Saturday, October 28, 2017

Knack 2 Review : Higher Quality!



Knack, the name of this one, is not exactly phenomenal. Sony's attempt to blend a platformer game with characters that could lead to an "icon" for the Playstation 4 at the start of the release led to failure. Despite his ability to give a little idea about what this one machine was doing about 4 years ago, Knack is not exactly offering a platformer experience worthy of being recorded and remembered. Flat with bland characters and gameplay mechanics that are not special, many gamers are speculating that Sony will "bury" this one franchise just like that. Moreover, he was also accompanied by super spicy criticism thrown by so many gaming media giant.

But Sony did not give up. In the PlayStation Experience 2016 event, they surprisingly announced and showed the sequel series - Knack 2. Still carrying the same protagonist character but of course, with conflict and different stories, Sony also promised some new features for it.

Admittedly, the announcement of this sequel series was greeted with a strong skepticism. Many gamers feel that Knack does not deserve a second chance after what happened with his first series. But Sony continues to push this sequel series, albeit simultaneously, not to make it as a highlight in the middle of the brunt of exclusive AAA games that actually dominate the other main stage. Now the opportunity to try it directly finally arrived. Knack 2 finally released into the market.

So, what is actually offered by this Knack 2? Why do we call it a higher quality game? This review will discuss it more deeply for you!


Plot

Knack 2, like its first series, still makes Knack as the main protagonist character. It is a technology of the past that succeeded in "living" by combining the various relics around it, allowing it to enlarge itself if it successfully combines the number of relics in a given capacity. Assisted by Lucas and Dr. Vargas, Knack is one of the reasons why humans can survive amidst the Goblin threat in their first series.

And the threat, unfortunately does not stop. Categorized Goblins as nothing more than a race that lives with low intelligence in the forest, away from human civilization, Knack and Lucas discover a new threat coming from different races. Relying on machines that had been used as a weapon of war in the past called "Crystal War", Knack found that there is another race called "High Goblin" which turned out to have had a more sophisticated and fantastic civilization than humans though. Race that had been mistaken for hundreds of years it turned out to rise, along with the existing war machines.

Like trying to get revenge for the victory of humans who successfully washed victory in the past through limited weaponry, the High Goblin began to prepare a mature plan to restore the Goblin's domination as a race. And like any other heroic cliché story, Knack and Lucas are called to prevent it. But this time not alone, they are also assisted by an association of martial arts experts who are the organization of human heroes at Crystal War - Marius. The journey that will bring Knack around the world.

So, who is the real "actor" behind the rise of the engine and the High Goblin? Can Knack prevent the catastrophe from happening? You must of course play this game, to get a definite answer.


Advantages and Disadvantages of the Same Presentation

Knack was positioned as one of the technical demos for the Playstation 4 at the start of the release. Although visually it does not pursue realistic qualities, but fragmented and broken pieces of particles at the time become clear evidence of the Playstation 4's ability, a similar attraction offered by RESOGUN. The visual approach of the Disney cartoon-style movies creates a friendlier atmosphere for a fantasy platformer game which, too, is not filled with "heavy" content. Knack 2 itself comes with a similar approach, but now, comes with a better environment variant.

Of course there are improvements. Although not significant, but in terms of presentation, Knack 2 offers you a variant environment much more diverse than the first series. That you will now explore so many places and types of environments, from the jungle, the snow, to the ancient architecture full of puzzle pieces, to the top of the giant robot. But it must be admitted, broadly, with the cartoon approach that still covers it, you will still find a similar visual appeal. There are some minimal improvements like the lighting effects, but they will not be enough to fascinate you. He still carries the identity of a CGI movie from Pixar or Disney, but now in an interactive format. Approach that may be disliked by some types of gamers, but make other types of gamers fall in love.

But unfortunately, with the Pixar-style presentation that stays back and we categorize as "excess", Knack 2 turned out not much what had complained gamers as one of the fatal weakness of the first series. That's right, character. The bland character for Knack is back here. As if only involved in important talks, Knack seems to be nothing more than the weapons you muster to tear apart the civilization of the Goblins without any significance in the story itself. Giving a limited response, coming up with a funny joke, and not showing any unique personality trends, Knack feels so flat. The bad news? It also happens with Lucas and a variety of other supporting human characters, who like the first Knack, are experiencing the same thing.

There is no compulsion that Knack or Knack 2 should be able to offer Chloe's strong character on Uncharted: The Lost Legacy or Ellie in The Last of Us, for example. But if you look closely at the Pixar-style presentation approach that is potential to be explored further, this is certainly a blow apart. Creating a more emotional conflict that provokes deeper reactions to each of these characters will certainly create a quality elevation for Knack 2. Unfortunately, it ends up becoming a cliché "superhero" game with super safe plots and characters. For something that has been complained about in the first series, it is quite sad to see this happening again in Knack 2.


Better Gameplay!

But at least, the fatal weakness of the still unattractive and bland character does not occur in the gameplay offered by Knack 2. One of the most significant complaints of the first series is the fact that Knack's ability to change the dominant shapes and elements that make up his body, into something scripted - alias locked as part of the story, and nothing more. In fact, it has the potential to be adapted to be part of the gameplay elements, which can be "transformed" to make the game more exciting and complex. The good news, the criticism is finally implemented by Sony to Knack 2.

For those of you who are not too familiar with Knack, you can call it an action game that resembles God of War, but of course with content that is more "safe" for all ages. Using a locked camera, the essence of the game will be colored by two activities: fighting against a group of enemies with varying abilities and movements and fighting difficult bosses at some point or completing a puzzle that will lock you from the progress of the story. For the latter, the puzzle offered by Knack 2 will not get to the point to frustrate you. Slightly twisting the brain, looking for the relationship between the clue presented quite clearly, you will usually already understand what to do with just a few minutes of thinking.

Improvements arise from the side of the action offered. The size that is indeed the most important part of Knack is now implemented as part of the gameplay, and is no longer just part of the story. Now Knack can change his shape to small and large at will with just one button, to solve the puzzle or fight. Smaller forms that are vulnerable to attack can be used to access narrow paths or super small doors to the next area. For the rest of his relic's body in the open area, Knack can now enlarge himself when needed. Larger bodies mean extra protection on damage, and of course, the chance to throw punches and kicks with greater damage to existing enemies.

Here, the improvement is increasingly felt. Through a variety of small relic pieces that he can find when surfing at a certain level, Knack can now enlarge his body by collecting it, without having to always relate to the existing story. You will now also get clearer information about how high Knack is today. The larger body means better body resistance to the damage, because it is closely related to the length of the HP bar that it has. But the more essential is the chance to bring greater damage to the enemy. It is unlikely that an enemy that usually takes 3-4 strokes or kicks before death, now you can "get rid of" with only 1-2 strokes if you reach a certain size.

And like action games with fixed cameras ala God of War anyway, Knack is armed with various types of attacks to subdue any existing enemies. Along with the progress of the story, this ability is also increasingly diverse. Beginning with just the ability to hit and kick and combine it, you will be able to throw strokes instantly, striking hard to destroy enemy armors, drawing them closer to a certain strategic advantage. Not only weapons, enemies also have different characteristics that sometimes, it takes a particular attack sequence to be subdued. Enemies with armor for example, will not catch you before you destroy the clothes that protect their bodies.

One of the better executions when compared to the previous first series was the implementation of the elemental crystal system for Knack itself. Able to integrate materials such as metal, ice, even transparent glass, he now plays a more important role in gameplay. Each of the different elements that are now incorporated in Knack's body will have different effects of attack, such as metal that allows you to use a whip or ice that allows you to freeze the enemy's legs to minimize their mobility, for example.

But the interesting thing is the decision to make it an "option" rather than a "must". That the materials with these elements are now positioned with an HP bar that makes it feel like an armor and extra ability that is at risk for missing, rather than something that is indeed scripted to fit the story. The fact that you are faced with the risk of losing this ability if not able to "guard" Knack from attack damage would make it feel more valuable, especially with the range of different abilities, damage, and size increases that he offers. In fact, some puzzle elements also require you to be reinforced with these extra materials.

The design of the world is offered now also have more interesting secrets to be pursued. No longer just the extra "costumes" that you can just enjoy after finishing it like in the first series, exploration can end up with you finding pieces for gadgets that have to be rearranged to help Knack's journey itself. Gadgets that the pieces you successfully collect and perfect will provide a separate permanent buff for Knack. There are gadgets that help him see the enemy's HP, there is a gadget that allows him to do a soft restart from the nearest point if it falls while doing platforming, until that is able to convert gold crystal to extra armor into exp. point if it is on full threshold. Absolutely, there are exp points here.

You can also strengthen Knack with exp points that you can gather from exploring or killing existing enemies. But unfortunately, the system level and skill point is back to be one of the elements that we categorize as "weakness" Knack 2 this. What is article? Because the developer does not seem to understand that the essence of Skill Tree implementation in a game is to provide choice and more space for gamers to determine for themselves what kind of skills he thinks are important or not important. But in Knack 2, the implementation of Exp Points and Skill Tree systems is over linear. Instead of providing an opportunity to choose directly from the existing 4 branches, you are required to take and open the skill from one branch to be able to open the next branch. The result? The choice here ends up no more than an illusion. Because in the end, to strengthen Knack, you will inevitably have to pick up and strengthen a certain skill tree before it can move on to the next.

But despite the lack there, Knack 2 gameplay is ending much better and solid compared to the first series. Not perfect indeed, but at least he started to adopt elements such as size and elements as part of the gameplay. Bringing action games and platformer with a more friendly puzzle, but now, is also more fun.


Now with Co-Op

One of the features that Sony is touting for Knack 2 is the offline cooperative mode that you can taste using two DualShock 4, of course. That you no longer have to fight and solve it yourself, you can now invite one other gamer to adventure together for a story that can take up to a dozen hours. Interesting again? Not just a fight together, Knack 2 also put different mechanics in this co-op mode.

Although all the story and level content you get is the same, Knack 2 injects different mechanics for the existing cooperative mode. That to strengthen the cooperation that can be done, the two gamers can use each other Knack's body to issue a different attack animation or its own advantages. From you can hit your "friends" to make it like a missile, using a punch to his body to produce a sporadic out-of-project impact, to steal their Relic temporarily to enlarge the Knack body you use. There are elements of extra strategy there, which can lead to make the game feel more refreshing. Sony even designed this system to allow only one person who needed to achieve the required goals, while others could use Warp's capabilities instantly to that location.

Although we ourselves did not try this mode intensively, but the decision to present the co-op mode is a very rational step for Sony and Playstation 4. Why? Because inevitably it must be admitted, that of all the "exclusive" games available for Sony today, Knack 2 is an all age game that all family members can enjoy. No adult, naughty, or brutal content here, just an action game with CGI Pixar-style movie approach. With this approach, it is not impossible that Knack 2 will be the most "right" game to play by children, or even, parents with their children. The level of difficulty that may occur due to platforming systems that need dexterity and difficult to be taken by children for example, can be overcome with warp systems and the like.

On the other hand, it meets the expectations of gamers for a light and fun cooperative game that you can sample together in the living room without needing an internet connection at all. There is no necessity to taste this one mode, but it is a fantastic option for some existing social scenarios.

Conclusion

Having once become a meme and continues to be colored by the skepticism that exists, Knack 2 comes as a refinement of its first series, a sequel series that has one clear message - that it offers a better quality. Although it still has many shortcomings that deserve to be recorded, but Sony clearly take and adopt the various feedback they get from the first series to be presented in this second series, resulting in a more pleasant and solid gameplay sensation. The presence of co-op mode also makes this game interesting to taste in a variety of scenarios, especially with different mechanical implementations that can be taken.

However, it is difficult to deny that Knack 2 itself is still not perfect. There are some things that keep ending unattractive like bland characters, for example. Instead of coming with Pixar's ability to blend a character that has a certain emotional depth, Knack, Lucas, and all the characters you find in this game, even the protagonist or antagonist, end up cliché and just fill the trope you've often found in so many media another. If only, Sony dare to take risks with the side of the story.

But despite these flaws, Knack 2 is a compelling game for you looking for a "friendly" and adorable platformer / action game. Something you can enjoy and finish without being haunted by so much emotion and frustration. There is no need to taste this game as fast as you can, you always have room to wait for a more affordable price for your domp in the future. Not too special to be pursued and hunted, but offers a more solid experience than the first series.

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