A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Knack is a 3-D action/adventure game with plenty of platformer-style running and jumping thrown in. Frequent fighting has the titular hero growing from a wee thing to a towering creature who uses his fists to pummel opposing humans, goblins, bugs, birds, and robots, many of which try to attack him with guns and rockets. It's all quite cartoonish, but the violence is sustained and definitely the focus of play most of the time. It's pretty much the only way Knack knows how to solve any of the problems he comes up against. There is no foul language and only very light romance that doesn't even involve any kissing.
What's it about?
KNACK gives players control of a curious creature composed of floating, energized relics mined from the ruins of an ancient and unknown culture. He can grow in size by gathering more relics from around the environment, going from a little fellow no bigger than a dog to, at the end of the game, a towering behemoth that can smash through rocky debris and punch holes in mountains. Created by a human inventor, his job is to fight the goblin armies that are attacking cities, generally by punching them or using super moves -- like a giant ground pound -- that are fuelled by sun crystals players find scattered around the environment. He also has to contend with a rival scientist eager to exploit the power contained within relics in potentially dangerous ways. A cooperative mode allows a second player to join in on the action, controlling a metallic clone of Knack. Bonus modes unlocked after your first play-through include time-trial stages and an arena battle challenge.
Is it any good?
Knack is an entertaining action game for tweens with compelling combat mechanics that drive the experience forward and make it hard to put down the controller. Just tap one button to punch and press another to start a super move, and then jump and dodge as necessary to avoid incoming attacks. It's a simple but at times satisfyingly challenging formula. Plus, the colorful environments look lovely on the PS4 and are filled with plenty of hidden rooms and passages containing relics and technological treasures that let Knack build gadgets to power up his abilities.
But, although what's here is good, it feels like the developers could and should have created more. Knack's growth ability is cool, but it takes an awfully long time for him to increase to the size most players want him to be. Also, whereas he has the ability to incorporate objects other than relics (wood, glass shards, metal, and icicles) into his growth, he doesn't use this ability very often.
The co-op mode, meanwhile, feels tacked on. It favors a shared display over a split screen, which causes the second player's avatar to disappear and respawn whenever he or she gets left behind (which happens a lot). Kids and parents will still have a fair bit of fun, but we expect even more from the inevitable sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Did you get riled up while playing Knack? Do you think that the game's makers could or should have included some puzzles to serve as a break from all the fighting?
Families also can discuss the idea of capturing, streaming, and otherwise sharing video and screenshots of their games with friends. What kinds of fun activities might this new ability enable?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Subjects: Hobbies: building, collecting
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Tech Skills: digital creation
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: November 15, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and fantasy
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.