We all make mistakes. What matters is what you do next. That’s a quote from Knack 2, the new action platformer from Sony for the PlayStation 4. I made a mistake with Cuphead, of course, and I moved on to Knack 2 and finished playing the game yesterday. It wasn’t a bad way to spend my time, as I needed some good old-fashioned gameplay to bone up on my much-maligned skills. Playing a game is always a redemptive activity when you’ve got to move on from a mistake, like I had with Cuphead.
Editor’s note: This story and its video have story spoilers. Our full review of Knack 2 is on this link.
It took a lot longer to finish the game than I expected, as it has a full 15 chapters of action, with cinematic trailers that deliver the story. Overall, it was a good game, as it took us all by surprise. But I do think it went on a little too long. At least, however, the longer ending introduced more types of gameplay, and that made it more challenging and fun.
The original Knack debuted as a launch title on the PS4 in 2013. Mark Cerny’s game had a lot of potential, but it was clearly rushed. The game scored a weak 54 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic. Yet Cerny, who was the leader on the making of the PS4, had the clout to marshal Sony’s Japan Studio for another try. They spent time on the design and took feedback into account, Cerny said in an interview in May. Among the things the new Knack can do: punch, kick, lasso, whip, punch hard through a shield, unleash a flurry of punches, body slam, and evade.
Cerny wrote the story for the original Knack, but he beefed up the writing team this time. Knack 2 was written by Marianne Krawczyk, who wrote the story for the God of War games and won a BAFTA game award for best story and character for God of War II. In this case, Krawczyk’s story skills gave us more reasons to keep on fighting.
Knack 2 starts out in New Haven, with Lucas and the game’s star character, Knack, who is a collection of polygons that can be shaped either as a tiny creature or a giant one. New Haven is under attack by giant robots. Lucas says he can’t help but feel it’s all his fault, because of a terrible mistake. Knack tells him what matters is what he does next. And they proceed to knock the robots out of the city.
Then we flash back to six months earlier for the second chapter. I finally caught up with the bad guy, and I thought the boss fight with a couple of big robots was a little too easy.
Then the story takes a twist. Just when I thought it was over, I found out there was more work to do to defeat the bad guys. This was a little hard to swallow since the good guys — Lucas and Knack — just let the bad guy walk out the door with the world’s most important artifact. Rather than try to stop him, they are paralyzed by a moment of inaction — probably the first real inaction of the game — and allow him to escape unchallenged.
After the story twist that extended the length, the game called for some different skills. I had to learn to do some nasty double-jump dashes. Around chapter 11, I thought I was just about done. I had an awful time getting through one part when I was fighting as little Knack against some very routine enemies. But then I figured out how to get out of that jam. That turned out to be my most difficult battle, only because I didn’t realize what to do. In my opinion, these new gameplay introductions helped redeem the extended ending, as a lack of gameplay variety is what made people complain about the first title.
I finally returned to the scene of New Haven, having gone through the six-month flashback. Then I got into a nasty boss fight yet again, and I thought I beat it a little too easily. So yes, once again, it wasn’t the final boss fight. Then I proceeded to go back into battle, fighting enemies and solving puzzles, until it was time to save the day again. As for the final battle, It wasn’t all that difficult, but it sure took a long time to get to it and to finish it.
The multiple boss battles stretch the ending out for hours beyond what I originally thought would be the ending. For a $40 game, it’s not a bad value, particularly if you don’t want the story and game to end. You can also go back and play it all over again with your beefed up powers. This 12-minute video shows my final battle with the boss. I played it through just once, and died and came back to life. Most of the skill required was simply evading big blows and then closing in to pound the boss. Finally, I beat the boss, and watched the closing cinematic. Check it out.