Hands-on at rAge: Knack

sony stand rage 2013

When I arrived at rAge early this morning, I made a beeline for the PS4 stand before the queues began (that’s right, that media badge holds no power when it comes to testing out next-gen gaming).

Another advantage was that I got to have a proper go at it, rather than feel hundreds of gamer eyes burning into the back of my skull, waiting impatiently for me to step aside and sighing at my lack of skill.

The game set-up and on-hand was Knack, one of the PS4 launch titles and a game I’ve been really curious about, so I was eager to give it a go. At first glance it seems like a 3D platformer isn’t really the best showcase for the next-gen hardware, but that perception was swiftly stomped once I actually started playing it.

The game is really, really fun. It’s very easy to just pick up and play, and it really doesn’t take long to figure out combat and how to move around. The character itself is essentially a floating mess of ancient relics; as you progress through the game you’ll find more which you can incorporate into yourself, making you bigger and more powerful.

The developers have gone with a slightly cartoony style, but it actually looks awesome. The graphics are sharp, with a ton of little details and effects which really make playing through it a pleasure. My go-to enemy-killing tactic was to jump into the air, curl up into a ball and cannon-ball them in the face. Every time you do this a little piece of armour falls off, and when you finally take them down they collapse in a shower of broken metal and their own weapons. They even kick up little puffs of dust when they land, and the physics really shine through here – it really feels like a big mass flopping to the ground. All these details make combat and killing enemies very satisfying.

I had to move that guy aside and show him how it's done.
I had to move that guy aside and show him how it’s done.

When it comes to platformers, it’s all about the controls – and Knack delivers. Everything was fluid and smooth, with the character moving almost intuitively with your input, just where you wanted him to be. The depth of the 3D was also fantastic, I found it very easy to move around the back of enemies exactly how I wanted, attacking them from all angles. Everything just felt really good, which is exactly what I want from this kind of game.

One unfortunate thing was that the controller’s feedback wasn’t working; disappointing as I really wanted to get a feel for how the game made use of the new hardware. As for the straight-aligned analog sticks everyone has made a fuss about, they felt fine to me (although granted I didn’t play for several hours).

From what I saw of Knack, I have no problem recommending it as a day one purchase if platformers are your thing. The controls are great, the graphics are phenomenal, the enemies are varied and the combat is a blast. This is the kind of game that makes me want to pre-order a PS4.

Let’s talk about game difficulty