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Knack 2

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SCEE (EU), SCEA (US)
Developer: Sony Japan
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2017


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PS4 Preview - 'Knack 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 15, 2017 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Knack 2 is a fun, pick-up-and-play adventure with a diverse set of combat, platforming and puzzle gameplay mechanics.

Pre-order Knack 2

Knack was a game whose primary defining feature was that it was an exclusive title at the launch of the PS4. It had a laundry list of nags and flaws that made it seem like it would end up as a trivia question, not an ongoing franchise. That's why Knack 2 is a nice surprise. Sony seems willing to give the little-franchise-that-could a second go at proving it can stand with the big boys.

The basic gameplay in Knack 2 is an evolution of the gameplay from the first title. It's a combination 3D platformer and beat-'em-up. Knack can punch and kick, and you can perform these moves while jumping or charging them, which changes how they work. He's more durable than he was in the original game, and he can take a few more hits without dying. He also has access to special moves, such as a floating double-jump and the ability to create a rotating shield of bits that can reflect projectiles back at its targets.

Knack 2 also adds on-demand size change into play. What we saw in our demo was simple but had some real potential. At the press of a button, Knack can shrink to half his size, transforming from his human-sized combat form into a tinier and more portable form. We saw a few examples of how this could be useful. The smaller form can slide under attacks or obstacles that the large form can't. This includes platforming challenges such as swinging gates, which can't be conquered without swapping forms. It's hard to get a feel for how this will play into the final game, but it has a lot of potential.

The cool feature about what we saw of Knack 2 was the emphasis on co-op. While the title can be played single-player (and the plot clearly assumes there's only one Knack), that doesn't mean much when it comes to gameplay. The coolest bit of co-op involves cooperative special moves. For example, Knack can unleash a series of rapid-fire punches, but if used on a friendly co-op partner, Knack can literally punch the parts out of them and send them flying like bullets across the screen. This doesn't harm your pal, so no worries there. Likewise, the powerful Heavy Punch can target your friend in addition to foes.

The only real downside (and for fans of old-school beat-'em-ups, that might not even really be a downside) is that this makes it difficult to not lose control. Once we unlocked the Heavy Punch ability, fights became as much about figuring out who could send their friend flying at Mach 5 speed into the enemy as it was about actually defeating the enemies. It was utterly hilarious in action, but it's easy to imagine it quickly becoming annoying if two people just aren't on the same wavelength.

What we played of Knack 2 was a big improvement over the original. It feels like the developer took many of the complaints and concerns about the launch title into account and have solidified what they're going for. It's still a simple beat-'em-up and platformer, but the ability to swap sizes and bash off body parts really feels like playing as a bundle of parts is necessary as opposed to a convenient side effect. When the final version releases later this year, here's hoping that it can live up to the improvements shown off in the demo.

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