Hands-on with Knack on PS4: Delightfully Deceptive

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Hands-on with Knack on PS4: Delightfully Deceptive

Knack, 02

Just after the titular hero, Knack, punched a goblin clear off the screen, knocking his armor into a nearby river, it hit me: Knack, a PS4 launch title, looks stellar. It runs as smooth as silk, and brims with details both big and small. With a family-friendly atmosphere and a charming lead character, Knack seems like a great experience for young — or just newer — gamers. But gaming veterans take note: Knack will surprise you.

It was a delightful surprise, of course, softened only by Game Director Mark Cerny’s presentation just minutes before our hands-on session, in which he mentioned how tough Knack can be on higher difficulty levels. Cerny and his team want Knack to be enjoyable for all sorts of gamers, including those who expect a fierce challenge in their platformers.

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Getting a feel for Knack (And its hero, Knack!) takes minutes, at most. Knack can run, jump, attack, and use super-powered moves fueled by sun stones. Gamers of all skill levels can pick up these controls without a problem. But overcoming the challenges hurled at our hero is a totally different story.

During the latest Knack demonstration, Knack infiltrated a goblin fortress, after the goblins within invaded a human settlement. The goblin resistance was fierce, and — strangely enough — armed with high-tech tanks and weapons unusual for goblin soldiers. Very soon, Knack was faced with more aggressive enemies than one might expect.

This aggression comes in various forms. Goblins will often attack on two fronts, with one soldier rushing towards Knack with melee weapon swinging, while another hangs back with a bow to fire off bolts from afar. Handling these battles requires a deft response. Knack can dodge in any direction with a flick of the right stick, which — in my short time playing — seems critical to success. Knack has to dodge a few sword attacks, beat down one enemy, and then move onto the next.

Knack, 01

And these are just run-of-the-mill goblins! The campaign will hurl bigger and badder opponents at players during the game, which will call for even more delicate tactics and lightning-fast reflexes. This became clear during the brand new boss batle showed off after Cerny’s presentation. The goblin chief jumped into a giant, mechanized war machine, threatening Knack and his friends. The ensuing battle took place over several “stages,” tasking players with maneuvering close enough to the chief to land a blow.

I should note that the chief unleashed a one-hit kill attack during this battle, which blew Knack to pieces. This attack never felt unfair, though; the chief broadcasted it beforehand, giving me ample time to respond.

Knack looks beautiful, feels great, and features drop-in/drop-out cooperative play. It will definitely surprise gamers that underestimate what a family-friendly game can offer, and it launches alongside PS4 on November 15th.

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6 Author Replies

  • Just like other great PlayStation games that go under the radar, while I doubt this game will be amazing goty material, I think it will surprise those who actually pick it up and play it. It’s my one guaranteed launch game for the PS4.

    Hopefully more gamers give it a try instead of passing it off as some “kiddy” game with no substance.

    Looking forward to November 15th!

  • Hey, Ryan. So several PS4 launch games (including BF4, ACIV, Ghosts,) are launching on November 12 for PS4. Will Knack launch November 12? Will it be held by retailers until the 15th? Will there even be a street date?

  • I’m actually kind of glad that Watch Dogs got pushed back. It’s gotten me to look more closely at other titles, I may have missed out on. Knack is definitely on my list of games coming home with me on day one.

  • It’s always so shocking to hear the negative attitude towards Knack. How many times has this same community begged and pleaded with Sony to give them Crash Bandicoot?!?! I know Knack isn’t Crash Bandicoot, but it’s in the exact same vein.

    Look, what we have here is a traditional Sony platformer, with what looks to be excellent characters, story, enemies, level design, platforming, collectibles, hidden secrets, discovery……what more could you ask for?!!! Just because they game doesn’t feature a set of hands holding a gun, doesn’t make it a crap-game. This is actually the ONLY game I have reserved for the PS4 thus far, and I’m really excited to play it, both alone, and with my children. Thanks Sony/Mark Cerny.

  • Funny – I had no idea there was coop. Excellent!

  • Knack will be the first game i’ll play on my ps4.

  • This is a Sony first party title right? If so, why is it still priced at $59.99 for the digital psn version. That seems incredibly overpriced, especially considering Mark Cerny himself admitted that this game was more of a ‘second purchase’ for gamers on ps4.

    I’ll try it if it has a demo, but i can’t imagine buying it unless it ends up having a substantial ps plus discount.

  • If I can afford it, I will definitely buy it (after Killzone and Battlefield 4, still very sad that Watch Dogs was delayed). I think this will turn out to be a really fun game. I was personally hoping for a $49.99 price point, but if the campaign is lengthy enough I will be pleased.

  • I recall reading there won’t be a Knack demo at launch, so my question is: if I want to see the game in action after I pick up my PS4, can I somehow use the PS4’s Share button to pull up footage of someone else playing it?

  • Really enjoying your hands on previews Ryan!

  • I love this and cannot wait for this game. I appreciate the effort being put forth into this game! I am not sure if this has been told but what frame rate and resolution is this running at?

  • sucks i had to cancel my ps4 knack bundle because of financial reasons, hopefully I’l get ps4 by jan/feb. still look forward to playing knack in the future.

  • This game looks genuinely good, I’m definitely getting it as soon as I get a PS4 next year, I don’t know why people seem to underestimate it so much, considering it’s from Mark Cerny and the incredible pedigree of Japan Studios which includes people who worked on Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of the Dragoon, Wild Arms and Gravity Rush, by the way Ryan, is the combat gameplay similar to God of War or only tints of it?

    • Hm, interesting comparison. I would say the Knack combat is really all about dodging and closing in to land hits on enemies. ^_^

  • This is the only game I pre-ordered along with my PS4. Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just tired of shooting things. Maybe I just need to play a game that reminds me what made me fall in love with video games in the first place. I want to punch a goblin in the mouth and yell “Not on my watch!”
    Knack is a game that I want to play, but also one that I can play with my daughter as well. It looks like Crash Bandicoot crossed with God of War, which is like crossing peanut butter with chocolate. Separately they’re great, but together? Wow.

  • I haven’t read a word or seen anything to suggest you do more in Knack than just fighting. Where’s the platforming? Are all areas so enclosed? Is there any verticality to some of the levels? What’s there to chance the pace of just going through the motions of fighting, pick up stone, cutscene, fighting, pick up secret treasure, fighting?

  • 1st. Cant wait to pick this up, especially since it looks like ill be getting it for free kinda (looking to get $80 back from the promo I think)

    2nd. posting this in hopes of the blog team noticing, but I think there is a issue with the digital version of Enslaved, I cant get past the “press start screen” and ived tried it with 5 controllers (two PS3 DS3, and 3 fightsticks) and waited almost 10 minutes at the screen after pressing start.

  • drop in/drop out co-op, very nice. will it feature online co-op though?

  • This will be the second game i pick up for my PS4; of course after Killzone Shadow Fall.

  • I’d like to reiterate what @The_Cowboy_Poet said. I’ve really enjoyed your posts Ryan. Not that I don’t enjoy what the other PlayStation.blog team members have to say, but you seem to have a flair for painting a picture with words. I’ll definitely have to put Knack on my radar for day 1, even if my daughter is likely now too old to play it with me. :(

  • With Watch_Dogs and Drive Club being non-starters for launch, Knack might benefit in my opinion. Great preview!

  • Long time PlayStation supporter, but due to financial issues wont be able to purchase a PS4 by launch. Does this mean I will miss out on PS+ games or will I be able to add them to my cart and download them once I purchase my system? I cant miss out on Resogun, I just cant.

  • This is my one and only retail game pre-ordered with my PS4. It may be a “second purchase” for some, but I’m a gamer primarily into platformers and RPGs. It’s a shame there’s no major RPGs ready at launch.

    I’m getting a Kameo vibe with this game (anyone remembr that one?). I’m sure it will be great, and that I’ll love it, but the general PS4 consumer base will ignore it over the shooter offerings. In Kameo’s case, the launch game was ignored and Rare never made a followup or any game like it again. I hope that doesn’t discourage Sony or third-party devs from making more games like Knack in the future.

  • 1st thing One Piece Avatars, needed badly!
    2nd thing can we get some gameplay with coop?

  • I pre-ordered Knack when Watch Dogs got delayed. Hope it’s a worthy replacement.

  • @4, this isn’t that comparable to Crash, Also still waiting for PSOne crash’s to work on vita smh. I’m interested in this but realistically, this isn’t Crash, this looks like a fun game but more along the lines of GoW gameplay.

  • Any confirmation on 1080p native rendering, 3D support, and HD audio assets? Would be awesome to see Knack’s pieces swirling in and out of my TV in 3D, with each piece swirling in my surround speakers with bluray-quality audio.

    Does the game have diverse (non-white or LGBT) characters? All the trailers just show rather bland supporting characters :/

    Any second screen support via the Vita?

    Thanks for giving answers!

  • Is there any point of time where we get more than three or four enemies on the screen at once? more than 10 or 20 at a time?

    I can’t help but compare this game to Kameo for the Xbox 360, which was one of my favorite games last generation. Though, that was the whole thing with that game… Is that at any given time you could have 50 or more enemies at once coming at you… Any animation was jaw-dropping.


  • The game looks gorgeous to me, my only complain is the way enemies disappear. When the looks this good this g like that really stands out. I kind of wish it was like how enemies suddenly turned in to bunch of bolt in Ratchet & Clank.

  • I am super pumped for this game, so I was told about a co-op mode still a bit lost on that. I can’t wait to play this!!

  • This a cool game indeed & I might get this instead since nba live is getting a lot of negative feedback. PS4 day 1 shipping I’m out

  • Day 1 with Killzone.

  • @ ryumoron

    “seems incredibly overpriced”

    Compared to what standard? Actually, you know what… forget that. The main reason this question you keep repeating is so pointless is because if a game’s price is ever higher than you’re willing to pay at the moment, you can always just wait until the price drops to whatever you’re willing to pay, as it inevitably will, and just buy it then. There’s never been a need for your endless whining about what things cost. And there isn’t anyone who runs a business that likes a cheapskate. You’re not going to convince Sony to change their pricing structure with your silly whining so give it up already.

    So until the price drops, do something else. Quit poking around every blog post with all your petty cheapskate crap, and let the real fans of this game enjoy a discussion about it without having to witness your negativity trying to spoil the fun for everyone. It got old a LONG TIME AGO.

    Aren’t you like… 26 years old? How do you not know how the general public marketplace operates by now?

  • @ plaztiksyck

    Heterophobe! (And apparently a caucasianphobe too…) Intolerant bigot! H8 is not a family value!

    Heh heh… :)

    Giving the characters more pigment or making them queer won’t make than any less bland, Einstein. Skin color and sexual orientation mean absolutely nothing. There’s nothing special about any of that. It’s the spirit within that matters. God, you’re shallow.

    And for the millionth time, please, keep your inane agenda out of game blogs. You’re not going to turn the video game industry into rainbow-land no matter how hard you try, I promise.

  • “won’t make THEM any less bland”, is what I meant to say of course… don’t know how that happened…

  • Wow wait, coincidence call or am I getting confused, Ryan Clements who was at ign playstation?! If that is you, I miss your game reviews and comments!

    If it isn’t sorry for the confusion lol. Excellent hands on impression of the game. Pre ordered the game today (want a family friendly game to play with siblings, plus I miss not having Driveclub as a launch title).

  • I’m looking forward to playing this game day 1. I miss having a good platform game. And it also bring balance to my game collection that has mostly shooters in it.

  • It sucks, because this looks fun and I’d be willing to buy it at a different price point. $60 is too much for this, in my personal opinion. It should be prices cheaper, around $40-ish like how Sly and Ratchet were also priced cheaper on PS3. I’d buy it day 1 at that price. Otherwise I’ll wait for price drops unfortunately

  • 3D or Move support?

    Maybe Sixaxis?

    Anyone know where to find this information?

    How cool would same screen co-op 3D be! It would be awesome.

    I need 3D games on PS4, so far AC4 is a must buy because of this, Knack having co-op puts it above Killzone on my list now, but 3D would put it above AC4.

    Make it so number 1.

  • Really looking forward to this. I hope it turns out great cause I’d love a good couch co-op game to play with the Mrs. at launch. Super excited for launch day!

  • How would you actually choose how to change in to different elements?

  • I’m now even more excited for Knack!

  • Knack looks good. I am glad it is challenging.

  • This helped sell me the game. Since WatchDogs got delayed I was thinking about what other game to get (besides Injustice Ultimate), and since I’m not a fan of FPS I was drawn to Knack. It seems like it could be quirky and fun. I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s a PS exclusive, so it’s at least going to be better than most of the stuff coming out anyway ;-)

  • The first time I saw this I didn’t think twice about it. Now it’s one of the three games I have coming with my console next friday. :D

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