GSY REVIEW | PS4 Tuesday, September 5, 2017 | 9:01 AM

We reviewed Knack 2

We reviewed Knack 2

After a first episode which did not manage to convince many people at the time of the PS4 launch, Knack is back in a sequel quite simply entitled Knack 2. We completed the game in about 13 hours and we can now share our verdict in case you're interested. As usual, you'll also find a good amount of gameplay footage, including FPS analysis videos.
Note: All videos were captured on PS4 Pro.




Verdict


Knack 2 is clearly more generous and polished than its predecessor, both in terms of graphics and gameplay mechanics, but it hasn't radically changed and remains faithful to its roots. As a result, the game still does not compare well with Sony's other exclusives, which are clearly in another league. Still, this sequel remains pleasant to play, with a co-op mode that may not be a game changer, but will allow you to share the experience with your kids. It is very unlikely you'll find Knack 2 a lot more convincing if you didn't enjoy the previous game, but those who had fun the first time most certainly will again, especially since platforming sequences are much more present now. Not a must-have by any means, but an entertaining ride that will keep you busy for a little while. We'll see if the third episode hinted at at the end of the game will manage to be a little more surprising, but for that to happen, this second episode will have to prove its worth to the public and Sony's officials.

On the plus side


+ Looks better overall
+ Nice sense of scale
+ Relatively engaging story and mostly engaging characters
+ Good length for the genre
+ Co-op and child-friendly
+ No more frustrating difficulty peaks in normal mode
+ Exploration is rewarded
+ Additional game modes (time trial and arena)
+ New Game + and replayable chapters for completionists
+ New Game + finally allows to change the difficulty setting
+ 2 graphics modes (resolution and framerate)


On the downside


- The artstyle hasn't changed a bit
- Envrionments can look a bit boxy
- Combat appears a bit less technical
- Completing the game with many skills and gadgets still locked
- Quick time events come back a little bit too often
- The last part could have used some more chapters
- Too few time trial and arena challenges (5+3)
- HDR could have been more convincing


About the captured videos

● The single player video showing the opening of the game was recorded in 1080p with the game running in resolution mode. The game was locked at 30 fps when capturing.
● The 2 high resolution vidéos show the main character with all the skills we unlocked in our first playthrough. Knack has access to attacks he would not normally have in the sequences shown here. Again, framerate was locked at 30 fps when we recorded them.
● The Challenges video also feature a highly skilled Knack. We set the game on framerate mode to record the video.
● Both co-op videos were played by Davton and his 9-year-old son. We've also played co-op with a less experienced 6-year-old boy and it all went fine in easy mode. The possibility to press R2 to catch up with the better player is a good idea when playing with kids.

Prologue
Co-op #1
Co-op #2
Resolution mode #1
Resolution mode #2
Challenges in Framerate mode
FPS analysis (Resolution mode)
FPS analysis (Framerate mode)

All comments

Commented on 2017-09-05 09:44:50
Hooray! thanks for the review. I enjoyed the first, and will be playing this one.
Commented on 2017-09-05 10:33:01
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Commented on 2017-09-05 11:01:40
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Commented on 2017-09-05 12:37:35
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Commented on 2017-09-05 13:17:27
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Commented on 2017-09-05 13:48:35
Boulet time for everybody.
Commented on 2017-09-05 14:53:52
Mines on the way. ^_^ Great price point too just like Everybody's Golf. It definitely sounds like it isn't as hard as the first game, even on Hard difficulty.

Do the collectible relics return in the game where you have to try and gather specific diamond relics and such? And if so, does your friend list improve the chances of getting the rarer ones like in the first game?
Commented on 2017-09-05 14:59:45 In reply to andrewsqual
Yeah, gadget parts and what I would call skins for Knack (rubis for example). There are also more community focused things you can exchange if I'm not mistaken. As for the rare ones, I don't know.
Commented on 2017-09-05 16:58:58
Framerate mode runs with wich resolution?
Commented on 2017-09-05 17:56:13 In reply to Voland44
1080p.
Commented on 2017-09-05 18:39:18 In reply to Driftwood
Thanks a lot for the very detailed review.

Seems like a good sequel and great game to play with children, specially younger ones. Which is always welcome and as unbelievable as it sounds, there's not that many AAA or even AA 3-7 year old child-friendly games - outside of Nintendo and mobile games.

I have 5 nephews - 3 boys and 2 girls - and sometimes is really hard finding games that they can understand and play efficiently, specially co-op games. There are many games that are great for co-op, but most are too violent, scary or complicated for young children to understand or play.

I hope there's a Knack 3, as much as I would love that the resources were spent on a new Syphon Filter, there's need to be more child-friendly games as more and more gamers are having children.

Interesting facts about Gaming from the "2017 Essential Facts" report by the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) - the organization responsible for E3, ESRB (games' rating) and other regulations:

- Most parents (71%) say video games are a positive part of their child’s life. Most parents (67%) also play video games with their child at least once weekly and 94% say they pay attention to the video games played by their child.

- The average gamer is 35 years old and 72% are age 18 or older. Women age 18 and older represent a significantly greater portion of the video game-playing population (31%) than boys under age 18 (18%).

- More than 150 million Americans play video games, and 65% of American households are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly, or at least 3 hours per week.

Source: The Entertainment Software Association - Industry Facts:
http://www.theesa.com/about-esa/industry-facts/
Commented on 2017-09-05 20:09:23 In reply to Driftwood
Cool, thanks Driftwood. Avoiding all the videos you see just like with The Lost Legacy. :)

@Sdarts Hmm, I want a new Syphon Filter too but since the studio that made it are still around, Sony Bend who are making Day's Gone, I'd still prefer if they made it. Maybe a Syphon Filter reboot is the game they were apparently working on before it got shelved and they started work on Day's Gone instead. And maybe they will go back to that one day.

But then I'm also disappointed they are making Day's Gone on Unreal engine 4, when in all this time they should have made their own game engine from the ground up for PS4. OR they should have used Naughty Dog's engine since they had previous experience with it making Uncharted Golden Abyss. Or even Guerilla's engine would be awesome. :)
Commented on 2017-09-05 20:31:29
lol, i bet dev houses know there is more to engine requirements and needs, than just shouting drivel like they are a bunch of elderly doing friday's bingo.
Commented on 2017-09-05 20:33:19
After playing the Destiny 2 beta, I'm convinced that fewer studios should be producing their own engine tech. Unreal is just better than what most people can do on their own, and the tools are incredibly flexible. It just seems like a waste of time and resources if you can't do it better than what is cheap middleware.
Commented on 2017-09-05 21:14:58
Hated the first one, but this looks pretty good. A decent, well implimented co-op (unlike last time) and its cheap asking price may have just won me over.
Commented on 2017-09-05 22:19:42 In reply to andrewsqual
Posted by andrewsqual
But then I'm also disappointed they are making Day's Gone on Unreal engine 4, when in all this time they should have made their own game engine from the ground up for PS4. OR they should have used Naughty Dog's engine since they had previous experience with it making Uncharted Golden Abyss. Or even Guerilla's engine would be awesome. :)
I agree with Grift, Unreal Engine 4 is very user friendly and easy to learn. Either UE4 or Unity, but Unity has a lot of problems that the creators still haven't fixed after 3 iterations, so I it's not the best, even less for AAA games, specially large scale open world games.

Sony Bend Studio's Director, Christopher Reese, on Unreal Engine 4:

"More interestingly, we also learn that the game uses Unreal Engine 4- a modified variant of the game, but still. Apparently, the engine was a big help to Sony Bend during development, because Reese explains that it helped the studio during the prototyping phase to try out lots of things with minimal resources expended, until they found the direction for the game that they wanted. The engine also allows the team to iterate easily, allowing them a lot of flexibility in generating assets of the desired quality, and translating them in game.

It’s a ringing endorsement of Epic’s engine- then again, we already knew that it’s a pretty damn powerful piece of code."

Source: Gaming Bolt - Days Gone Uses A Modified Unreal Engine 4, Features A ‘Very Strong Narrative’:
http://gamingbolt.com/days-gone-uses-a-modified-un...

As for not using Naughty Dog's engine, I believe it's because it's not made for open world games. I know it's capable of creating very big levels, but they are still self-contained and not truly open world. You can think of those large areas like Tomb Raider's Hub areas, or "semi open world" as many people call it.

I know that Bend Studio could adapt the engine for an open-world game, but that would take a lot of money and time that the studio could spend on the game. Usually when you make a game engine is so it can develop several games, not just one. Not even just a franchise.

This is why companies like EA, Ubisoft, Konami and many others keep using the same engine for most of their games, no matter the franchise or the genre. They invested a lot of money and time on their engines and have evolved them over a number of iterations and all the developers in the different studios know how to work with them.

This makes it much easier to allocate personel from one studio to another since they don't need to learn how to use a new engine - which can be very, very hard in some cases, but most importantly, already have experience working with it.

This is very important because they know what the engine is and isn't capable of, and have an estimation - on average - of how much time it would take to develop a certain system or mechanic in said engine. I cannot stress enough how important this is, having someone who has experience with a very complex software development tool vs someone who needs to learn many things from scratch and how much different they are from other tools they're used to is hard, sometimes it's very, very hard. Saying the most obvious thing ever, but "experience matters".

Bend Studio's best bet, outside of Unreal Engine 4, would be the Decima engine made by Guerrilla Games, like you mentioned. The Decima engine was used to develop Killzone: Shadow Fall, Until Dawn, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (VR game), RIGS: Mechanized Combat League (VR game), Horizon: Zero Dawn (open-world) and Death Stranding by Kojima Productions.

It's a very versatile and proven engine for both normal and VR games, plus it's also capable of great looking games like Killzone: Shadow Fall when it launched and Horizon: Zero Dawn, one of best looking games even on PS4 Base/regular. It's easy of use, tool set and open world creation tools are the reasons why Hideo Kojima chose it as Death Stranding's engine. In Kojima's own words about the Decima engine: "very appropriate for work on open worlds".

Source: IGN - PSX 2016: Death Stranding Will Run on Guerrilla Games' Decima Engine:
http://www.ign.com/articles/2016/12/03/death-stran...
Commented on 2017-09-05 22:20:03 In reply to andrewsqual
Still, if you are curious to learn a bit more about how hard it can be to learn to develop on an engine, even if it's a very well known one like the DICE's Frostbite engine, Kotaku's excellent "The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda's Troubled Five-Year Development" article is great.

Kotaku - The Story Behind Mass Effect: Andromeda's Troubled Five-Year Development:
http://kotaku.com/the-story-behind-mass-effect-and...

You don't need to read the whole article, just search for the word "engine", the first result is the first paragraph on the subject, there's 7 paragraphs in total, but they describe how much of a difficulty the BioWare Montreal developers had in even adapting the Frostbite engine to make a RPG.

One of the reasons Mass Effect: Andromeda had a very difficult development was because the new BioWare Montreal team was having a very hard time working with the Frostbite engine for a very long time.

And guess what? Animation is one of the biggest problems the BioWare Monreal team had with the Frostbite engine - quotes from one of the developers below:

" “But one of the key things that makes it really difficult to use is anything related to animation. Because out of the box, it doesn’t have an animation system.” (Frostbite was later attached to an animation system called ANT, that source said, but it was full of “duct-taped issues.”) "

Developing games is hard, developing open world and/or RPG games is even harder since these games need to be massive in scale and have many more features, and in much more quantity than most other games. Unreal Engine 4 is great for that, as it's easier to use, very versatile and very powerful as well.

Unreal Engine 4 is great for Days Gone, it or the Decima engine. The fact that Bend Studio had experience with Naughty Dog's engine and still chose to go with Unreal Engine 4 gives me the impression that Naugthy Dog's engine, while great at many things, might not be the best for open world games. Just my impression.
Commented on 2017-09-05 22:56:23
When did bend use naughty dogs engine? Did they test it prior to days gone? Because as far as I'm aware, golden abyss didn't use it.
Commented on 2017-09-05 23:13:44 In reply to Sdarts
Dear Newton, you have too much time on your hands ;-)
Commented on 2017-09-06 03:08:07 In reply to KORNdog
TL;DR: Bend Studio most likely used Naughty Dog's Uncharted engine and adapted it with a new rendering engine made by themselves.

I decided to give you a very short summary instead of a long explanation - not technical as that would take several pages, but still long - because I know you hate my long "walls of text".

However, if you still want to know how I came to that conclusion, I will explain in detail. If not, just know that the TL;DR is true as far as I know. I only put "most likely" because without having worked on the game myself or having an official confirmation or denial, nothing is certain.
Commented on 2017-09-06 03:10:13 In reply to droezelke
I love reading and when I spend too much time without reading, it builds up and then I read/write a lot. Will try to keep to a minimum from now on. But I will also expect you guys to not question things too much, at least not more than what can be explained with 1 or 2 paragraphs. :)
Commented on 2017-09-06 10:33:35
Got this for free last night thanks to Sony! The greatness just keeps going!
Commented on 2017-09-07 03:57:17
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keep clicking, maybe it will work.
Commented on 2017-09-07 05:38:08 In reply to GunsnSwords
Posted by GunsnSwords
This message is in "Boulet Time" (TM), If you still *really* want to see it, click here

keep clicking, maybe it will work.
wtf it's not working...

I still think it's funny that gamers think that someone needs to "ask for it". Entitled crybabies, we are.

About the game


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    rayy Cosmetic lootboxes on overwatch doesnt affect the gameplay at all, and if you play the game enough you get those stuff for free anyways. You really dont have to grind that much tbh. (5 Hours ago)
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    rayy Say welcome to seasson passes, split comunity, having to pay more than $60 for the game to get all the maps or heroes I want, so yeah I will take lootboxes on Overwatch over having to buy a season pas (5 Hours ago)
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  • MrWhite
    MrWhite @KORNdog: Agreed. They're in on it too, so fuck em. (6 Hours ago)
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