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Why I Accidentally Liked Knack

Posted on November 23, 2013 AT 07:00am

When the PS4 launch game Knack had its review embargo lifted and it got hammered by many reviewers, my heart sank a little bit. To be honest, I really wanted the game to be decent. Once I got it my hands on it myself, I found that maybe my instincts were more on point than I thought. Why then, is the game receiving the low scores that it is? I have a theory that involves a mistake I made with the game that really turned out for the better.

 Thinking that it would be pretty amusing to play Knack on the hard setting during the gathering I had at launch, I started my game on this setting. What I found was  difficulty a bit more brutal than I was expecting. One, maybe two, hits and you’re dead. This isn’t typically a huge deal, checkpoints are relatively frequent, but it maybe wasn’t the right choice for that particular party.

Pulling up the iPhone app, which lets you transfer items you’ve earned to your game, emptied the fruits of my labor into my hard game. Booting up the game the following day, I had officially decided that hard wasn’t going to be the right choice for me. Thinking I might be able to change the difficulty of the current game save, I perused the menu for that option but found nothing. Okay, I’ll just start a new game, was my next thought, but upon doing so I had a horrid realization: my items don’t transfer between the games. It was at this point I had to simply accept that I was going to be playing the game through on hard.

You’re probably wondering at this point where I started to like the game. Well, that came about a play session or two later when I started to get the hang of the game. Being finished off in just a hit or two by most enemies really forces you to learn more about how the game is played. You can’t just rush into an encounter and punch things in the face and then move on, you have to dodge and strategically use your special abilities to make it through. This is where I actually started to get a better appreciation for the depth hidden behind the simplicity that Mark Cerny had been talking about with this game.

That’s when it clicked in my mind, why people had been hating on the game so much. If I had allowed myself to play on easy, or possibly even normal, like most sane reviewers had done, I would be bored out of my mind. Trying to figure out how to make it through an encounter by leveraging Knack’s abilities would turn into “walk forward, punch things, repeat.” I can certainly understand people’s frustration with the monotony that would create.

Aside from all of that, nothing about Knack has absolutely blown me away. The visuals look pretty nice and clean. The story is serviceable, if a little predictable and once you’re done, aside from playing through as the special kinds of Knack, you’re pretty much done. When all is said and done, I’ve enjoyed my time with the game and think that it’s worth not writing off completely. Give the poor little relic man a break, he has an awesome voice that makes me chuckle and game that could be worth your time if you play it on hard.

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