PlayStation 4 Launch Titles: Review Round Up - Knack

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Nov 15, 2013 12:34 PM EST
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With the PlayStation 4 ready to go stateside, it's time to look at what the console's launch library has to offer, and what better place to start than with one of its exclusives? Game Director Mark Cerny describes Knack's gameplay as "a little bit like Crash Bandicoot and Katamari Damacy with a touch of God of War," but the critics have a far different opinion. Read on below...

Joystiq, 3/10 - "Knack's pleasant wrapping is deceptive, and sadly indicative of how far its good intentions diverge from the execution...There's a danger of these complaints being interpreted as an adverse reaction to Knack's simplicity, style of graphics or wildly oscillating challenge – as a case of "it's just not for you." That, however, would mean that some people are content with slogging through a monotonous, charmless game just because it's pitched at their level. Knack fails to capitalize on its own ideas and structure, and is successful only as a reminder of the shallow, punishing platformers from a time when we really cared about how many bits there were on your console."

 Gamespot, 4/10 - "There are 13 chapters in Knack, and every one of them plays out in the same tired manner...Knack's downfall is that it focuses entirely on combat, but doesn't offer enough variety or depth within its system to compel you onward. Any early thoughts you may have that there must be more to the punch-punch-repeat action than meets the eye are banished once you plow through hours of the same basic sequences. And even Knack's few attempts at diversity are merely competent. The occasional platforming scenario lacks the joy of movement so necessary for jumping to be engaging, and the platform placement doesn't require any cleverness to surpass. There's not one element of Knack to rally around, to excite you. And without that special something, Knack crumbles just like its piecemeal protagonist."

 Game Trailers, 5/10 - "Knack seems much longer than it actually is. As you fight the same enemies again and again, you’ll beg for Knack to excite you in some way, in any way, but it never does. You’ll want the levels to open up, you’ll want the action to get more involved, and you’ll want the secrets to stop being so obvious, and yet the game remains the same. As a flagship title for a new console, Knack is surprisingly mediocre...With the way it looks and how simple it is, it’s easy to think Knack is a game for kids. And while that may be the intent, it doesn’t make Knack any less dull. Whether you’re five or 25, Knack is boring throughout its 10-hour duration. If you’re looking for something to introduce you to the PlayStation 4, there are far better options than Knack."

 CVG, 6/10 - "In the past Cerny has described Knack as Crash Bandicoot meets Katamari Damacy, but in truth it features gameplay more conventional than that tantalising partnership would suggest...It's a defiantly antiquated design, and the obsession for the class of '97 extends to Knack's difficulty level, which is, in a word, nails...as great as it looks, Knack's central concept of physical construction is ultimately never used to its fullest potential - and feels more cosmetic than it needs to."

 Destructoid, 7/10 - "Knack is a good-looking game, though there are some inconsistencies that pop up from time to time to remind you that you’re looking at a launch title. Watching Knack command the thousands of individual relics that make up his body is like watching the PS4 flexing its graphical muscle -- he’s a walking special effect. Bright colors, high-resolution textures, and highly-detailed enemies make Knack look like an animated CG film in places. At times, all of this combines with lovely backdrops and impressive lighting to make for some of the best visuals I've ever witnessed coming from a videogame console. Knack is still a fun romp, and definitely worth a play. It’s easy to pick up, a joy to look at, and and some of the boss battles are pretty great. My recommendation is that you take it in smaller doses, or try out the drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, which will definitely help when the going gets tough. It’s not the next blockbuster platformer you'd want out of a launch title, but you need a break from shooters or want something with some personality, Knack is worth a look."

Kotaku, Yes - "Next gen visuals. Old-fashioned gameplay. The PlayStation 4 action-adventure Knack looks better than most video games you've played, but there's a good chance you've played a game like Knack before...I can't help but marvel at Knack's look. What I can do with Knack is less of a marvel. I can punch. I can jump. I can dodge. Knack the game is straightforward character action, a brawler with a tiny bit of platform jumping...I can't be mad at a game like Knack. It's pretty. It's mostly traditional. It also could be something much better...Knack is not a game to buy a PS4 for, but it's a game to use on the PS4, one that'll dazzle you with crisp visuals and excite you with its detailed main character. Get it as a showpiece for now if you're getting a PS4. Just don't expect to love it in a year."

As you can see, scores are mixed to say the least. Sony Worldwide Studios President has already seen a number of the reviews, and shared his thoughts on them with GI.biz.

"The game wasn't designed [to meet specific] review scores - I was hoping Knack could score in the mid 70s and last I checked it's around 59-60, so I'm hoping it goes up. The game uses only three buttons to play, so it's not the type of game reviewers would score high for the launch of a next-gen system. The game was targeted as what we call a second purchase; you know, people may purchase PS4 for Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed or Killzone, but if they also buy Knack, this is a game that you can play with your family or your significant other."

"It's a message that as a platform we are not just trying to cater only to the hardcore, shooter audience - we are looking at all kinds of gamers - but Knack is a great game for core gamers as well because when you up the difficulty level it becomes a really tight, tense action brawler."

"But the goal was to design it to be played by anyone, even someone who's never played before. So it wasn't aimed at high review scores, even though higher would be appreciated!"

At the moment, Knack currently carries a score of 59 from aggregate site Metacritic.

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