Developer: SIE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: September 05, 2017
ESRB: Everyone, PEGI 7
Players: 1-2 (Solo & Local Co-Op)
Available Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed on PS4 Pro)
Genre: Fighting, Platformer
My first playthrough of Knack 2 clocked in at 13 hours. It was on hard difficulty while collecting all 100 Treasure Chests along the way. Pretty decent campaign length for a $40 game!
Knack 2 is more of the old same. It’s a fighting game made with younger audiences in mind. Therefore it features a relatively simple moveset, so that kids can get through it easy enough. The 15 chapters are interlaced with many puzzles and platforming sections. It’s a constant ebb and flow of puzzles, fighting, and platforming. If you get stuck in an area for too long a hint will show you the way. It’s all quite easy to figure out, though.
I highly recommend that you start the first playthrough on hard difficulty if you have some fighting game experience. Easy and Normal are too slow paced and frankly boring. The enemies attack much faster on hard difficulty. Even then I still found it far too easy. Very Hard difficulty proves a fair challenge on the first run as the enemies are really aggressive, kill you in 2 hits, and can take more damage.
What I noticed right away was that many enemies from Knack 1 were being reused. This happens throughout the entire game. The enemies don’t change much, there are very few types and their attack patterns are as mundane as they can be. Most enemies can’t hit you in the air at all, or they are really bad at it. This invites players to use jump attacks all the time and puts the gameplay at an imbalance. Even most enemies with ranged weapons cannot shoot up.
Your own moveset is very limited as well. In the beginning all you can do is punch with and kick with . Later down the road you learn new moves, either through skill upgrades, or from your buddy-to-be, Ava. The new moves can change the flow of combat. For example, a boomerang lets you stun enemies. You also learn how to grab enemies and pull them towards you, or how to break shields with a powerful punch. All in all, there aren’t a lot of moves though. I counted only 9 unique moves plus some variations of pulling enemies towards you and dodge moves (excluding super moves which are only usable at certain parts of the game). Worst of all, there are no combos whatsoever. Well technically, you can press four times in a row for a series of punches, but that’s just pressing one single button and I wouldn’t call that a “combo”. The moveset is a simple as can be. It’s probably intentional given the target audience. Still, having any combos at all would have been nice.
Add the lack of combos, the repeated (and reused) enemies, plus primitive AI behavior and you got a pretty boring fighting game. One that drags on forever and doesn’t seem to want to end.
The game world is colorful and the the cutscenes look like an animated movie. The story is rather forgettable, though.
After the campaign there are lots of bonus challenges: New Game+, Coliseum Battles, Time Trials, and Knack Medals. The Knack Medals are little challenges that you can do in chapter replay. Each chapter has 3 of them (boss fights have 2). Some of them are for collectible related things, others are fun tasks like ringing the bell on a clock tower, and many are for beating combat scores or speedrunning the levels without dying. It adds a bit of replayability and variety. My favorite part was the Coliseum Challenges. I just wish there were more of them. Only 3 Coliseum Battles and 5 Time Trials weren’t enough. A few more Coliseum variants couldn’t have hurt, but the ones that are there are fun and it takes a few tries to earn 5 stars in them.
As with the first game, you can also unlock “Crystal Knacks” from Treasure Chests. They are improved colored versions of Knack with special abilities. There are four of them in the game. I like that the chest drops are not as random as in the first game. I still remember what a headache it was to get Diamond Knack back then. Now there are exactly 100 Chests and exactly 100 Gadget Parts / Relic Pieces. Opening every chest guarantees that you get every item. It’s no longer a game of luck and I appreciate the developers making this change.
Couch Co-Op is a nice addition. You can use a second controller to play local Co-Op. There is no online Co-Op, but at least you can see what items friends found in treasure chests. If someone on your friends list got a chest before you, you can pick the item that they found instead of the random one you are given (just how it was in the first game).
The trophy list is fairly standard. It consists mostly of combat trophies. Earning the platinum took me just 2 days (around 20 hours of playtime). With a Trophy Guide you can do it in 15 hours. It’s a 3.5/10 in difficulty. Hard Mode was unchallenging and the Time Attacks too forgiving. You don’t even need all the chests in the game, only enough to unlock every gadget and one of four Crystal Knacks. What ultimately kept me interested in the game, was the hunt to be first to platinum it. I think if it wasn’t for that I would’ve lost interest much quicker.
Knack 2 is great to introduce children to the world of fighting games and platformers. As a grown-up, you may find yourself unchallenged by the simplistic combat and puzzles.
*Overall Enjoyment Factor, Fascination with Game World, Level Design, Variety, Playability, User-Friendliness (Ease of Use / Readability / Controls / in-game Tutorials / Menus)
– Simplistic combat, very few enemy types that are often repeated throughout the game, underwhelming boss fights.
+ Improved Treasure Chest Drops from first game.
*Quality of the Singleplayer Story, Cutscenes and/or Multiplayer Modes (whichever is available). If a game has no Story or no Multiplayer it won’t be rated (thus no negative effect on score).
Story: 5/10 – forgettable story
Multiplayer: Not available (not rated)
*Graphics, Texture Quality, Character Details, Lighting, Weather Effects, Animations, Loading Times, Number of Loading Screens, does it run smoothly
Not much of an upgrade from the first game. It goes for a simplistic style and succeeds in that but nothing here cries PS4 exclusive powerhouse.
*Amount of Content, Production Quality, Replay Value, is there enough content to justify a purchase
Really fantastic value for $40, long campaign with lots of extra challenges
*Rates how much fun the Platinum / 1000 Gamerscore is to achieve: Are trophies fun to do? Do trophies restrict freedom of gameplay? Missable trophies? Multiple playthroughs required? Luck-based trophies? Pointless farming/grinding? Glitched Trophies? Are stats/trophies tracked correctly?
Enjoyed getting the platinum, good mix of things.
|Extraordinary Score Increase or Deduction
*Reserved for extraordinarily good or bad features that the other categories don’t cover (such as game-breaking bugs). This score is directly added/subtracted from the final score.
Knack 2 does little to improve from the first game. There are few combat moves, few enemy types and no combos at all. Even on the highest difficulty the AI is easily exploited. The cutscenes look nice though and it runs smoothly at 60fps with minimal loading times. The $40 price tag is more than fair given the long campaign and bonus challenges.
Played on PS4 Pro (Version 1.01) using EU Retail Version. Finished Game on Hard Difficulty, Found All 100 Treasure Chests, completed all coliseums and time challenges, became 1st in the world to earn the Platinum Trophy.
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