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First Impressions: Stomping Around with Knack on PS4

Posted by Andy Robertson

Hands-on gameplay reveals PS4 processing power

With the number of games slated for the PS4 launch Knack may have slipped under the radar somewhat. However, PS4 System Architect Mark Cerny saw fit to take on the role of game designer and we think for good reason.

The main character in the game is a Robot that attracts and controls a variety of relic items. Magically each of these thousands of pieces are brought to life with real time physics. It’s here that we start to see why the PS4 graphical and processing horsepower was needed to pull this off.

As you progress a variety of super moves are provided via various button combinations. However, Knack steers clear of using too many of the PS4’s novel controller features — there's no use of the light or touch pad here. While some may criticise this more restrained approach, it means that the game escapes having to crow-bar in every last interaction just because they are possible.

In addition to the variety of attacks, Knack can also transform into different forms. This is used in a combination of puzzle challenges and to access different attacks. It also changes how he can interact with the environment. In many ways Knack picks up on gameplay and combat we’ve seen in titles like Skylanders Swap Force. This combines linear exploration, brawling combat with puzzle elements. Knack nudges this towards more intelligent combat with the various attacks and combos – something that will surely stand it in good stead with more mature gamers.

Interestingly, European Producer Daniel Brook explained how the title is being developed by Sony Japan and has the lead background artist of Shadow of the Colossus working on the game. This alone is testament to the deep pockets Sony has when it comes to development talent.

As the level plays on you start to get a sense of scale of the game. The more artefacts you add to Knack the bigger and more powerful he becomes. This sense of size — which seems to reference the likes of Godzilla — moves us from exploring a city to striding over it.

Perhaps the only tension here is the duration. With Knack taking around ten hours to complete, it will important for the game to leverage significant reasons to replay. The hidden areas and secret items we saw in our demo level seemed to suggest this shouldn’t be an issue. Also, reading between the lines, it sounded like there would be some local multiplayer modes of some sort — perhaps a two player battle mode?

Knack is slated to be a PlayStation 4 launch title later this year.

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User Comments (14)

MadchesterManc

#1

MadchesterManc said:

Is it just me or deos Knack look as good as a Pixar animated movie? Maybe its just the art style but it I think it looks fabulous. I probably won't be picking up Knack on day one tho, but it deos intrigue me enough to warrant a purchase after the inital week of the Ps4

Volmun

#2

Volmun said:

one of the 3 games id like a PS4 for tbh ( Knack Deep Down and White Chapil) the rest iv seen im not too interested in tbh (mabe the witness but id like to see more on that)

rjejr

#3

rjejr said:

I dont think this shows off the power at all. I was really excited for this game until I eatched that walkthru last week. Blech. It has a fixed camera. A fixed camera is the defintion of a lack of oower to me. Sure God of War and Castlevania looked great, fixed camera and linear progression, thats a PS1 throwback. Ild much rather have an open world game like Darksiders, may not look as good, but it gives you control and freedom. And yes, I also compared it to Skylanders, which is a cute fun kids game that I played with my wife, but the fact that Knack is comparable just makes this game seem like a step backeards to me, not forwards,
Ill still play it some day, but I've lost all enthusiasm.

Ginkgo

#4

Ginkgo said:

Yeah, I don't know why, but I really don't like the art direction for Knack and agree that it does nothing to showcase the PS4 and its power.

Squiggle55

#5

Squiggle55 said:

I think the cutscenes and textures on things like water and the environment and the detail of Knack might look impressive when you see them in front of your face on your tv. Maybe it'll have quick loading times and that sort of stuff from the power. But the story and gameplay are the important things, right?

Cirno

#6

Cirno said:

Of course a cartoony game would not fully showcase the PS4's power.

But to be honest I would rather embrace this as this might be a relic of actual graphical creativity in western games as eventually I bet more and more developers will be forced to create games that showcase "Pretty" (But really think something like Call Of Duty rather than Dust: An Elysean Tail, X and any other game that actually wants to create nice looking areas to be in.) graphics by the typical gamers of nowadays that want nothing more than those medicore "flavour of the month" games.

Ginkgo

#8

Ginkgo said:

@Squiggle55 Ahh the looks vs personality debate. Well of course personality wins in the end, but if you aren't initially attracted, then you are unlikely to ever discover it.

Itachi

#9

Itachi said:

I still don't know what to think about knack. It just looks like a weird game, and the character himself is very hard to connect with unlike Crash, Spyro, etc.

B_Boss

#10

B_Boss said:

@MadchesterManc

I swear its so strange you said this. I believe someone else....on another website (IGN maybe? can't remember) but said almost the exact same thing, saying that it looked like a Pixar quality film. I then responded the way I will to you lol:
The interesting aspect of your (and the other commentator's) comment is that Cerny, when on Fallon's Late Night show, said that he was inspired by or wanted a "Pixar-like" approach to the game lol. Its amazing and can't wait to pick it up come launch day.

Kage_88

#11

Kage_88 said:

This looks very unimpressive, honesty. It looks incredibly generic - both in terms of gameplay and art-style. According to Digital Foundry, it doesn't even run all that smoothly either...

DarthDiggler

#12

DarthDiggler said:

"it means that he game escapes having to crow-bar in every last interaction just because they are possible."

I think you mean shoe-horn. :P

Lukos

#13

Lukos said:

@Ginkgo
With no disrespect intended, I feel like you and many others are missing the point of this game and these new consoles.

Nowadays, everyone seems to feel like if it doesn't have sparkly, beyond-realistic graphics, it's not using enough processing power. Everyone also seems to feel like if you aren't shooting something, driving something, or shooting something AND driving something, it's not a game worth playing.

Knack uses quite a bit of processing power. Knack (the character) is made up of all these different polygons that are able to act independently based on what happens to them in the game. That's huge processing power, especially considering how big he gets. Bigger Knack = more polygons, each individual one able to move and act based upon what happens to it.

Is it going to be everyone's cup of tea? No, but neither is Watch_Dogs or Killzone: Shadow Fall, as pretty as they are. Either way, I think this is going to be a great game, and I look forward to playing it sometime during PS4's year one.

Ginkgo

#14

Ginkgo said:

@Lukos : Don't worry no disrespect taken. Quite happy for you to disagree with me and I am glad that you like the game. I hope many other people do too and that it sells well.

I know a lot of people share your concerns about games having to aim for photo-realism or people think that they aren't worth playing. I even read an article that said games like Beyond : Two Soul were ruining the industry. Though I am excited about Beyond, quite honestly, that is not what I meant. I don't believe that all games should go for a photo-realistic approach. Though admittedly as a mature gamer, I personally tend toward games that have mature themes, and I love entire worlds that I can get lost in, which often leads towards those types of games.

My comment was way more subjective, that I don't like the art-style, the environments and particularly of the robot dude himself. I find him ugly and not at all endearing. The people are the only part that I think works artistically.The Unfinished swan, Ni No Kuni, Journey, would be just a couple of games that aren't trying for photo realism, that I think have a great art style.

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