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Knowledge is Power: Decades

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Casual
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: Nov. 13, 2018


PS4 Review - 'Knowledge is Power: Decades'

by Cody Medellin on May 16, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Knowledge is Power: Decades is a high-energy quiz game show set across the last four decades of entertainment.

Buy Knowledge is Power: Decades

It was only a year ago that Sony introduced the PlayLink series of games that use a mobile phone or tablet as the primary means of control. Among those titles, the most traditional was Knowledge is Power, a straightforward quiz game that had players using their phones to answer questions while also doling out power-ups to slow down their opponent's progress. While is wasn't an instant classic, it was fine enough for those looking for a casual trivia game. This time around, we get a sequel with Knowledge is Power: Decades. Well, "sequel" is a kind word, as this is more of an expansion pack with a few improvements — but the same price point as the original.

Just like the first game, Decades is a trivia title first and foremost. With up to six players competing against one another, your goal is to correctly answer as many questions as possible, amassing points along the way. Points are awarded for being the first to correctly answer a question, so being smart and being quick is the best route to success. Each game consists of 12 rounds, with most being relegated to one trivia question with up to four answers to choose from. There are a few rounds where you'll have to match items together or sort items under one of two categories, while the final round takes the basic multiple-choice question format and translates that into a pyramid climb, where quick correct answers let you move more steps up the pyramid.

The game's main difference comes from the abilities that you unleash between rounds. From round two onward, you have the chance to target an opponent and use one of three abilities on them so it's a little more difficult to answer questions. Freeze encases the answers in blocks of ice that need to be broken before the answer can be selected. Gloop does the same thing, but you'll wipe away the slime instead. Small creatures can be used to eat away at some of the letters of the answers, while bombs can fill the screen with a white flash for a few seconds. You'll start off using one power-up at a time, but your status in the game later on might give you the ability to use pre-made power-up combinations to further trip up your opponent. Aside from new abilities, like having to tap on padlocks or unzipping zippers to reach answers, there are now positive power-ups that help players by granting bonus points for answering questions right or eliminating half of the answers on the board so it's easier to choose the correct answer.

Decades begins with everyone picking up a pre-made character, and this time, the selection is different from before. You can choose someone with a really tall hi-top fade or a girl in a popcorn box costume or someone wearing a functioning arcade machine. Once the character is chosen, you can use your device's camera to snap a picture of yourself with that character's overlay — kind of like a Snapchat or Instagram filter. From there, after the host introduces the characters, everyone is taken to a room with four doors that represent different categories. The category with the most votes gets chosen as the question topic; in case of a tie, a random topic is chosen. However, once per game, a player can unleash a power-up to override everyone else's decision and have the game go with their desired category. From there, you're shown which power-ups people can use against one another, answer the question, see the results, and start the process anew on the next round.

One of the more interesting things you'll notice is how the topics and questions link to one another. For example, you can start off with movies and get asked a question about an adventure film. From there, you can choose between things like ancient artifacts or specific world history or geography that was somehow related to the previous question. The ties aren't always obvious, and there are times when they forgo the connections, but the effort is appreciated when so many other trivia games simply opt for a random selection of categories.

With that said, the questions are more limited than in the previous title. Despite having the theme of decades, there are only four decades to choose from: '80s, '90s, '00s, and '10s. Most of the time, Decades asks you a question dealing with entertainment with perhaps a smattering of news. Unlike the previous title, almost all of the questions are straightforward and tend to be on the easy side, so it'll take some real work to get a question wrong. Compared to its predecessor, this is a cakewalk of a game.

The limited question set makes you wonder why Decades wasn't made available as DLC for the original title. The decision to go that route would've also prevented the player from having to download an app for this iteration of the game, although this is something the PlayLink series is guilty of doing with every one of its title. Since this still functions in the same way as the first game, it's terrible to need to download yet another app.

There's one good thing in the title: the addition of more modes. Granted, the modes take what you have in the base game and make a modification or two to make it feel slightly different. You can choose to have trivia-only games or games that only feature challenge rounds. You can also ask for a shorter game overall, but the addition of the ability to turn off power-ups is probably the most welcome since their presence (although initially fun) slows down the game significantly.

Despite coming out one year after the original title, this iteration of the game somehow takes a step back in presentation. The backgrounds now include decade balloon numbers in the background, and they're done up in the style of the era. The eight characters you can choose from are all different, but their Laika and Aardman Animation looks remain present with some pleasant animation. It's in the audio where things go south, as the host is still boring to listen to and lines are repeated quite a few times in the same game session. The music overpowers the robotic voice announcing which power-ups have been used. Without any sound balancing options to fix this, you'd be forgiven for thinking that some voice clips simply don't exist.

As a stand-alone title, Knowledge is Power: Decades is fine. The mechanics taken from the first game still hold up well enough, and the small improvements give the game some more depth, such as the ability to remove power-ups and the new modes that remove trivia questions or challenge rounds. The easy and straightforward questions and the small selection of available decades make this feel like it should be DLC instead of a full-fledged game. Decades is a better purchase if you didn't pick up the first game, as owners of that are better off waiting for a big sale before adding this to the rotation.

Score: 6.0/10

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