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Knack Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
SCE Japan Studio
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
November 15, 2013

There are times when you’re convinced the developers just stopped coming up with ideas about halfway through the creative process. You see a solid foundation, you appreciate decent mechanics, and you’re excited about the premise’s potential. But then, it’s like staring at a construction site with inert cranes, placed morosely before a partially completed structure that begs to be finished. Fancy analogy aside, let’s just say I wish they had finished Knack . It’s not a matter of incomplete individual elements; it’s an incomplete vision.

The game doesn’t particularly impress in terms of visual excellence. While the environmental design is an obvious highlight, and some of the special effects might indeed qualify as “special,” there’s a decided lack of spit polish. Don’t get me wrong; the theme and style is charming and appealing. However, despite the game’s length, the graphics almost imply a project that suffered from a lack of resources. Here’s the biggest problem— I see no reason why this couldn’t have been done on the PS3. We are supposed to be holding next-gen titles to a higher standard, yes? So, while Knack is cute – and the animations are nice and smooth – it fails the up-close next-gen test.

The sound is only a little better, as we’re treated to a variety of rewarding crunches and smacks throughout this admittedly repetitive adventure. The combat effects are what you’ll hear most; you’ll spend most of your time bashing foes and trying to stay alive. Those are good and the soundtrack isn’t bad, either. It’s just that, much like the graphics, there’s nothing about the audio that represents a clear step forward. The balancing isn’t perfect, the acting is merely average and in general, the level of achievement simply isn’t high enough for a new era of interactive entertainment. Which isn’t to say the array of technical aspects is disappointing; it’s just underwhelming.

The story is a twist on the clichéd oppression and tolerance theme. The goblins have been forced out of their homeland by the invading humans, and after many years of strife and toil, those goblins are ready for revenge. This leads to two potentially interesting narrative components: First, there’s the ever-popular “one people mindlessly attacking another people” plot (ala Europeans vs. Native Americans). Second, as the main character was created via scientific experimentation, he wonders if he’s considered the equal of his peers. Is he just a weapon and nothing more? And if so, should he be risking his neck on a daily basis?