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E3 Hands-On Impressions: Knack
Knack was originally revealed back at Sony’s PS4 reveal in February. Long time industry veteran Mark Cerny announced his return to video game development with Knack as well. At E3 2013, Knack was playable at the show, and it looks to be a relatively simple and cute 3-D platformer.
The demo was broken up into 4 segments: an outdoors introductory sequence, an indoors stealth sequence, a snowy ice world, and a section where you play as a giant Knack. The initial sequence took place in the city streets teeming with various enemies, and it was a good way to get familiar with the controls. Knack can jump, double jump, throw a punch, and use an jumping attack that is very similar to Sonic’s air attack that locks on to enemies from the air.
There are crystals scattered throughout the level, and breaking these will fill up a meter that allows Knack to perform special, more powerful attacks. One particular effective move has Knack exploding so the tiny objects that make him up hurt every enemy nearby. Another has Knack locking on to surrounding foes and shooting Knack bits at everyone. All of these maneuvers are extremely useful in clearing out large clusters of enemies, and are best used for such moments.
The second part of the demo took place in an indoors facility, and it demonstrated off how all of the pieces comprising Knack can fall apart to make him become invisible. The corridors were filled with dangerous red lasers that regular sized Knack can’t get through. But with a press of the triangle button, Knack broke down and became a small invisible figure. With this, Knack can easily pass through the lasers, but quickly needed to reassemble himself to deal with the enemies.
The next section had Knack traversing an snowy cave. Knack himself was also made up of ice shards, and it seems that going to different environments will change the objects that make up Knack. Although there was a shift in the setting, it didn’t look like the icy theme gave Knack any different powers in the demo, and he still relied on basic punches to eliminate his adversaries. The final level of the demo had you controlling a giant-sized Knack to fight tanks and helicopters. One of the more fun things you could do was pick up cars and hurl them towards helicopters, making them spiral out of control.
Overall, the gameplay felt relatively straightforward. There was only one primary method of attack, and the flashier special moves required meter from breaking crystals. Hopefully, there will be a lot more interesting powers in the final game.
Knack also looked fantastic. The cartoony graphics were bright, sharp, and colorful, and the visuals were reminiscent of something like a Ratchet and Clank. The frame rate did seem to stutter at times, especially when Knack exploded every which way and a plethora of tiny objects flew across the screen.
Another tidbit about the Knack demo was it was my first time handling a PS4 controller. And it felt…just like a PS3 controller. The triggers did feel better than the PS3 however, as they weren’t as squishy as the Dualshock 3. The start and select buttons are replaced with an options and share button, and a touch pad is placed in the center. Although it may initially look like the touch pad may stretch out the controller too much, it felt extremely comfortable in my hands, and I had no problem with it whatsoever.
Knack comes out as a PS4 launch title this November.