Of all the games Sony could have chosen as the first ever PlayStation 4 title to be revealed to the world, few would have expected a game like Knack.
Considering the technological leaps that tend to define each new console generation, it was perhaps reasonable to expect Sony to showcase its PS4 with a game that carried jaw-dropping visual flamboyance that was categorically unattainable on ay other system. Knack, however, is a puzzle-focused action platformer that - as a concept - could feasibly be realised on the first PlayStation.
But look past knack's inability to dazzle, and the game's full potential becomes clearer. Knack is being developed by SCE Japan, perhaps the most eccentric of Sony's numerous worldwide development studios. For the house that built the likes of LocoRoco, Patapon and Echochrome, and having contributed to the development of Ico, Gravity Rush and Tokyo Jungle, SCE Japan's unconventional game CV suggests that Knack will be no ordinary action platformer.
If originality is likely, so too is its polish. Knack's game director Mark Cerny has a formidable CV that cites him as producer of iconic titles such as Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro, as well as the designer of Ratchet & Clank and cult Mega Drive favourite Kid Chameleon.
Cenry was also lead programmer on Jak & Daxter and a design consultant on Uncharted and Killzone. In short, while his name may not be immediately familiar as a Miyamoto or Kojima, his influence throughout the life of the PlayStation brand is irrefutable.
Knack tells the story of a small creature with a unique ability. When the game begins, mankind is under threat by an invading army of goblins. The world's greatest adventurers and military tacticians have been called upon to help save the human race, but a mysterious scientist named only the Doctor has another plan up his lab coat sleeve.
For years the Doctor has been studying ancient relics from a long-lost civilisation. These relics aren't your typical little wooden figurines and amulets, they actually hold a special power that, when activated, can do amazing things. After learning how to use them, the Doctor managed to bind some of the relics together, and by doing so turned them into a small creature capable of conscious thought. And it is this little three-foot creature made of ancient relics who is the game's titular hero, Knack, and the creature that the Doctor believes can save humankind.
When he first appears in the game, Knack doesn't seem too convincing. He looks about as powerful as a Jedward ballad. But this is where his secret ability comes into play.
Much like Knack was created by binding together ancient relics, if he comes across any more of these relics he can also join these to his body and gain their powers. In time, then, Knack will grow from his initially diminutive size to an enormous relic-made beast capable of massive destruction.
The resulting gameplay is, as Cerny himself explains, a cross between Crash Bandicoot and the Katamari Damacy games, as you wander around each level attacking enemies while also collecting more relic pieces and slowly growing all the time as you do so. Expect to eventually play in battles of the more epic variety by the time you reach the end of the game when Knack begins to rub shoulders with skyscrapers.