Roughly two and a half years after it’s release as a PS4 launch title, Knack is easily the most criminally underrated Sony exclusive.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that Knack is a perfect ten. We all know that’s not the case. However, Knack is currently sitting at a 54 on Metacritic, which is an atrocious and unacceptable misrepresentation of this fine Studio Japan title. Having just completed my first play-through on Hard difficulty, I am simply astounded at the critical panning this game received. Knack deserves better.
The game suffered the most by being available on Day One, as a launch title on the PS4. The most common sentiment one finds in early reviews of Knack is that it’s a disappointing, unremarkable and unsatisfactory game, as reviewers and gamers (myself included) expected to be blown away by exceptional “next-gen” experiences, right out of the gate. Two and a half years later, with the knowledge of what this console generation truly is, we need to cut Knack a little slack! In mid-2016, we can seperate Knack from its launch-day context, and see that it truly is a quality Sony gaming experience.
First and foremost, Knack is stunning, even when compared to the latest releases. The outdoor environments look great (though the indoor counterparts are sometimes a bit bland). The game runs smoothly, especially if your TV is optimized to minimize input lag, with only rare frame-rate drops when occasionally using super moves. More than anything, however, the particle physics continued to impress me throughout the campaign. Watching Knack grow as he absorbs shards of ice into his being is a treat, and seeing Knack shatter into a thousand little relics after getting punched square in the chest by a giant mech — an inevitable result we’d like to avoid as much as possible — is pure eye candy.
On the subject of chest punching, the combat in Knack is virtually flawless. Many critics called it bland, with some even calling it unfair, leading frequently to cheap deaths. Nothing could be further from the truth. The combat in Knack is incredibly fair, and often brutally difficult. The enemies have a limited number of attacks, and they are governed by very strict rules — though difficult, one only dies in Knack because he or she has not yet learned how to overcome the challenge of that particular encounter. Never once did I feel cheated. In this respect, I found it somewhat Souls-esque, and I felt a tangible sense of achievement upon defeating a room of enemies who had destroyed me the previous ten attempts. Watching Knack slow-mo punch a baddie square in the jaw as you finally complete a challenging room is incredibly satisfying.
Another area where Knack was found lacking is in its story. Now, it’s obviously no Last of Us, but Knack’s story is anything by bad. It’s light-hearted, fun, and makes sense. As a family-friendly title, there really is nothing to complain about story-wise, as Knack easily stands along side Sony’s lineage of family-friendly games, like Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter. As a means of moving me from one beautiful environment to the next, Knack’s story was more than satisfactory. (Not to mention Knack, as a character, is actually an absolute badass!)
Overall, we need to rethink where Knack stands in the library of Sony exclusives on the PS4. We should not think of Knack as a weak launch title, but as a solid, early piece of Sony’s exclusive library, complimenting well games like Killzone: Shadowfall, Infamous: Second Son, Driveclub, The Order: 1886, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4, and others.
Is Knack a 5.4/10? Absolutely not. I give it, two and a half years later, a very, very solid 8/10.
What do you think? Do you agree that Knack is the most underrated PS4 exclusive, or do you think Knack is absolute garbage? Tweet @Shasdam and let me know in the comments.
Until next time, have fun poppin’ trophs!
Adam James is a MA student of the Comparative History of Central, Southeastern and Eastern Europe. He lives in Budapest, Hungary, and doubles as a freelance writer and private English-language tutor for businesses and individuals. He can be contacted via Twitter @Shasdam.