Archives by Day

February 2023

Sackboy: A Big Adventure

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Sumo Digital
Release Date: Oct. 27, 2022


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Review - 'Sackboy: A Big Adventure'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 30, 2022 @ 1:00 a.m. PST

Iconic PlayStation hero Sackboy returns in an all-new 3D adventure with a deeply immersive and expressive control scheme.

Buy Sackboy: A Big Adventure

The PS3 era introduced players to LittleBigPlanet. For some, the creativity was the main attraction. The ability to make full-blown games garnered plenty of attention, and the chance to put stickers and other things in the main campaign was a very novel idea, even nowadays. For those who didn't want to create stuff, the platforming gave the game some appeal, as the mechanics were solid and the presentation was a stunning example of what the PS3 could do in the right hands. For the debut of the PS5, Sony went with a spin-off rather than a full-blown sequel, and under Sumo Digital's guidance, Sackboy: A Big Adventure received much praise. Two years later, as part of Sony's push toward the PC, the game has made its way to the PC in fine form.

The story takes place in Craftworld, home of the sack people that are well versed in creating joy for all those in the world of imagination and beyond. That peace is broken when a giant evil being named Vex forces the sack people to build his Topsy Turver machine, which spreads his evil and introduces nightmares. Thanks to some luck and ingenuity, Sackboy escapes and must find a way to save his people and stop Vex's plot.

The core gameplay is still a platformer, but unlike the previous numbered games before it, Sackboy trades 2D side-scrolling for a more open 3D setting. For the most part, the game focuses on collecting and solving puzzles to get even more stuff. Orbs of all types become important as currency to buy new outfits, and they are also keys to access new levels and worlds. There are multiple pathways that tempt you with more orbs, and while some of the early puzzles have you bringing up platforms or pulling strings to make more orbs appear, some orbs can hide behind some real brainteasers.

Combat has always been part of the series, and it's greatly expanded in Sackboy. You can still jump on enemies, but you can perform a stomp with your face instead of your feet. You have a punch combo at your disposal and a spinning lariat that would make Zangief smile. For defense, you have a double-jump and the ability to grab objects to get yourself out of harm's way, but you also have a dodge-roll and a jump that gets boosted when you perform a slap first. If you need a good comparison for how upgraded your arsenal is, you can put it in the same league as what Mario experienced in Super Mario 64 when he made the transition to his first 3D game.

Aside from the litany of new moves, Sackboy provides a few opportunities to get and use some fun new tools. The grappling hook makes a return, and swinging through levels is infinitely entertaining. You have a few places to defend yourself with a laser gun and fly around with jet-powered boots. There's also a boomerang that can be used for teleporting if you hit the correct blocks, and it can also grab items from afar, similar to the grappling hook. They're fun to use, and they're complementary to the base mechanics, so they don't transform the game into another genre.

All of these things are put to good use in the various worlds. Many of them sport expected platforming locales, including underwater worlds, jungle-themed areas, and a space-themed level. Aside from the aforementioned multiple pathways, a number of stages hold rewarding secrets for those willing to explore. Perhaps the more impressive part of the stages is how varied they can be. Some are free-roaming ones, while others can be on rails. You might get to walk on walls for one stage and then ride a deep-sea diving platform in another. Some challenge your platforming dexterity and have challenging boss fights, while others go for a bit of fun, like the stages where a big pop song is playing, like "Toxic" or "Uptown Funk" while everything moves to the beat. There's enough variety to keep things enjoyable without cheap blind jumps, unreadable boss tactics, or obscured dangers.

The campaign runs between 10-12 hours, which is much longer than the ones present in the previous mainline games. For platforming fans, the good news becomes even better because the game contains enough secrets to lengthen the playtime substantially if you go for a 100% completion rate. In addition to the campaign, you have time trials, which end up being much tougher than the main campaign since they require skill to defeat those times. In short, it's packed for a modern platformer.

Just like the previous mainline games, Sackboy features multiplayer for up to four players either locally or online, the latter being something that was patched into the PS5 version shortly after it was released. While the previous experience with multiplayer in those other games was a chaotic mess unless you had a group that was in sync, the 3D nature of the game gives multiple players room to roam without getting in the way of others or inadvertently sending them to their doom. Multiple areas in the game are specifically designed for co-op play, and their designs give you a big reason to find people to play with, so you don't miss out on the enjoyment. Online play works just as well as local play, so there's no fear of lag when you have a full crew romping around.

One thing that people may complain about is the inability to design things, which is one of the core tenets of the LittleBigPlanet series. You can outfit your sack person with various costume pieces, but that's about it. Full-on game creation would be a bit much, especially on a platform that has no shortage of ways for people to create their own titles, but it would've been nice to have the sticker mechanic that was used in previous titles for puzzle-solving. It doesn't change the game, but some players will miss it.

The audio has always been a highlight of the series, and this entry is no different. The voice work isn't exactly plentiful, as only a few characters actually speak, but the refined British accents are in line with the previous titles. The real highlight is the soundtrack, which features plenty of tunes from different genres that can outdo some of the aforementioned pop songs. From vocal hip-hop to classical, there's something for everyone, and the one thing they have in common is an infectious desire to keep everything lighthearted and fun.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The various worlds comprised of regular household items, cardboard, and wacky stickers are still present and just as charming as they were in the original series. There's something charming about going to a level and seeing cartoon yeti images dancing around on sticks. Enemies share that aesthetic enough that even foes that are supposed to look menacing still look adorable. Part of that comes down to the level of detail, which is amplified to the point that you can see individual fibers on your sack person if you view it up close. For the PC version, the game sports native 4K resolution, but it has Nvidia's DLSS to do some upscaling if your card can't do the job on its own. The frame rate hits 120fps, and ray tracing is added to a litany of objects to make them pop even more. Those with ultra-widescreen displays will enjoy the fact that Sony is still supporting a 21:9 screen ratio like it did with its other PC ports. Despite being two years old, the game's underlying art does a fantastic job of looking as impressive, if not more so, when compared to other recent releases.

Steam Deck owners will be happy to know that this is already playable, even if it lacks the official badge. Running at 1280x720, the game defaults to a high graphical preset, which almost hits a constant 60fps — once you get the shaders compiled. The drawback is that the game runs for about 90 minutes on a full charge. Players have seen the battery life jump to almost two hours by dropping settings and making some other tweaks on the Deck, and the result doesn't significantly hurt the presentation. For those who miss having the PSP entries, this is a better-than-expected substitute.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure is just as good now as it was during the release of the PS5. Stunning presentation aside, the platforming mechanics remain absolutely solid, and the transition from 2D to 3D is rather painless. The campaign runs at the right length with the right level of difficulty, and unlike past series entries, the multiplayer feels good instead of chaotic. The creative aspects of the original series are missed, but the game remains a solid entry in any platforming fan's game library.

Score: 8.5/10

More articles about Sackboy: A Big Adventure
blog comments powered by Disqus