Knack 2 PS4 PlayStation 4 1

In a world where we’re still waiting for a sequel to Puppeteer, it’s awkward to think that Knack 2 exists at all. Japan Studio’s launch title became a critical punch bag when it launched back on the PlayStation 4 in 2013, drawing ire from critics expecting something a little more exciting alongside a new piece of hardware. To be fair, our reviewer liked it, but even the most ardent fan would find it hard to argue that the original wasn’t without its issues.

And that’s where the sequel comes in. Legendary director – and PS4 architect – Mark Cerny has been demoing the new title ahead of E3 2017 this week, and a lifted embargo has revealed its intentions: to quell every complaint that was directed at the first instalment. “There was a desire for more variety and platforming,” he told Games Beat. “I hadn’t appreciated how much desire there was for that.” Hmmmm?

To be fair to Cerny, it sounds like Knack was a tough project: it was developed for a moving target with a fairly small team. Knack 2 has more employees attached to it, and it seems to understand where it went wrong. In fact, the game’s even eager to break the fourth wall, one character commenting on the first entry's shallow combat during a cut-scene: “It’s hard to believe you saved the world. All you know are three punches and a kick.”

Knack 2 PS4 PlayStation 4 2

This time around the plot’s been penned by BAFTA winner Marianne Krawczyk, who’s best known for her work on the God of War games, but Cerny admits that this isn’t necessarily a narrative-driven game, and it’s the gameplay improvements that take centre stage. Combat now has much more nuance to it – especially in co-op – and the platforming sections have been evolved.

Moreover, the entire game’s been built using a new engine which looks and feels that bit more modern, and can accommodate Knack’s fluctuating size – the primary gimmick of the original that wasn’t fully explored. Where the first game used the protagonist’s atom-like makeup as a visual trick, here the developer’s tried to investigate all of the gameplay elements that it can enable.

So it sounds like Knack 2 is everything that a sequel needs to be, but as the laughing stock of the PS4’s library, it’ll be interesting to see whether people are willing to take a punt on it – even if its improvements dramatically elevate it beyond the original game. More news will be announced at E3 2017, with a release locked for later this year.