When Knack was released as a PlayStation 4 launch title, it was good, but not great. For the sophomore effect, they refined many things. Here’s what makes Knack II a cut above the rest.
Knack II isn’t the very cool game. It’s the very fun game.
Yes, the debut of Knack four years ago needed work. But the refinements in Knack II make you understand what a joy experiencing Knack can be. The big guy who can turn into a little guy somehow is more fun with improved graphics. The small guy looks more determined, even when he searches in, say, a cave for one of over 100 treasures. And as a giant, he looks more powerful, more fearsome, tougher, like Marvel’s The Thing. But it’s more than Knack’s look. The platforming gameplay is challenging from the get-go. So don’t think you can play this on Very Hard mode simply because it looks like a kid’s game. I did, and failed in two minutes. And I kept failing. Learn from my mistake. Start on Normal then work your way up to a harder setting.
The movie-like scenes are nicely interactive.
The action scenes use camera angles that are so inventive, you’ll think you’re inside one of today’s better action movies. But that’s not the best of it. Instead of sitting back and watching some of the action scenes, you’re asked to make a quick push of, say, the square button, to get Knack to complete a big time task. Do it right, and he’ll whack some enemies with a wrecking ball or pull a giant statue from the muck. It’s exciting! Still, I wish there were more of these.
The power up tree makes you want to play more to get more.
The skill tree looks like an old museum tapestry. Something about the way it shows a kind of ancient world makes you want to acquire new skills as soon as you can and fill the tapestry up with power ups. How do you power up? As you move through each of 15 chapters, you’ll collect floating blue dots called relic energy. Get enough and you can choose a new skill.
What’s still an issue? Some of the writing.
I was told the narrative would be better in Knack II. The plot’s improved. The action, like Knack being pursued by Goblins, gets my blood pumping. But small things screw it up. I don’t care how old you are. You don’t need the constant reinforcement of “Good job” from your friendly game characters each time you eliminate a group of baddies. It’s repetitive. And it takes you out of the game. I’m not saying you can’t use optimistic dialog that helps game play. I’m just saying it’s overdone here. Less is more.
Overall, little things add up to a full experience.
And there are a lot of great, little things. Your controller’s speaker says something or makes a startling noise during an action scene and it comes exactly at the right time. Also, I don’t usually think that artwork makes for an enhanced experience. But the first game really needed improvement in some foreground art and immediate background art. In Knack II, these pop beautifully at 60 frames per second. (Stuff in the far background, especially modern buildings, still need work.) The music is exactly right. It’s not just beautiful. It hits the action points at just the right time – whether you’re running up to something, running away or whether you’re in the battle of your life. Finally, there’s a co-op experience you and a pal can enjoy. Overall, there’s a lot to enjoy in Knack II!
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