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Knack review round-up: Critics unimpressed with PS4 platformer

All the scores in one place

PlayStation 4 launch title Knack is developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's acclaimed Japan Studio and directed by PS4 system architect Mark Cerny.

In our Knack review we awarded the game 6 out of 10.

"From start to finish Knack feels like an overly-familiar platformer and, visuals aside, demonstrates little of the PlayStation 4's full potential," critic Andy Robinson concluded.

"There are fleeting moments when its campaign offers something unique, but these glimpses are imprisoned between unremarkable level design and mechanics which often creek with age."

Reviews for the next-gen platformer have started to appear online and we've collected them up for a round-up. Here's what critics think:

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  • Eurogamer: 4/10 - Perhaps time was a factor, or perhaps Mark Cerny - the PlayStation 4 visionary who also led development of this game - is a better programmer and system architect than he is a writer and creative director. Whatever the answer, Knack isn't the kind of game you'll want to take home with your PlayStation 4. I'm all in favour of games that transport us back to the good old days of vibrant originality, but Knack simply doesn't.
  • kotaku: Yes - Play it to enjoy the next-gen graphics moreso than the throwback PS2-style gameplay
  • Polygon: 6.0 - Knack has too little going on over its 12 hour length. The core concepts are strong - it's fun to watch Knack grow bigger and smash things. The incredible imagination promised by the dawn of new hardware is on display in Knack. But the moments of payoff come too infrequently to make plodding through another three dozen frustrating enemies any less tedious.
  • Destructoid: 7/10 - Knack is still a fun romp, and definitely worth a play. It's easy to pick up, a joy to look at, and and some of the boss battles are pretty great. My recommendation is that you take it in smaller doses, or try out the drop-in/drop-out cooperative play, which will definitely help when the going gets tough. It's not the next blockbuster platformer you'd want out of a launch title, but you need a break from shooters or want something with some personality, Knack is worth a look.
  • IGN: 5.9 - Playing Knack is like watching a dull movie on a plane - it's tolerable if all you want is a way to pass the time, but it's not something you'd seek out for its own sake. I finished in about 11 hours and, challenges, co-op, and secrets aside, there's just not much here worth recommending. Sure, some individual elements show potential, particularly when the scale of the encounters changes as Knack grows, but it never moves beyond playing it safe with the concepts or the characters.
  • Joystiq: 1.5/5 - Knack fails to capitalize on its own ideas and structure, and is successful only in acting as a reminder of the shallow, punishing platformers of a time when we really cared about how many bits there were on your console.
  • Game Informer: 8.25 - Though it's a launch game for a next-gen system, Knack is almost nostalgic; it's the kind of game they don't make that often anymore. As such, it's not the most innovative or the most visually dazzling game. This won't be the one you put in to show off your new console to your friends. However, when you're done with the prettied-up versions of the big franchises, you'll find yourself wanting to return to Knack. It's got charm and heart, and offers a whole lot of good gameplay. Ultimately, that's still what's important - no matter which generation we're in.
  • GamesRadar: 2.5/5 - There are certain times, when the camera is pulled in tight, that Knack looks like the next-gen showpiece you want it to be. In-engine cutscenes show off the detailed world and fantastic lighting, with wonderful shadows and imaginative characters. And there are moments where the gameplay lives up to expectations, feeling like a modern game with flashes of old-school nostalgia. Problem is, those times are interspersed between design flaws that feel two generations old, making for an uneven, unmemorable experience.
  • VentureBeat: 70/100 - Knack isn't going into the PlayStation 4 launch with a ridiculous amount of hype, but the end product seems like it'll be one of the better original titles to come out of the system's early exclusives. It hits enough checkboxes to warrant a look, but that $60 price should call for some thought before you buy in. At the very least, Knack is definitely worth renting. A bigger, better adventure is likely coming if the game gets a sequel, but if not, you're probably better off waiting for a sale or discount price.
  • GameSpot: 4/10 - Knack's downfall is that it focuses entirely on combat, but doesn't offer enough variety or depth within its system to compel you onward. Any early thoughts you may have that there must be more to the punch-punch-repeat action than meets the eye are banished once you plow through hours of the same basic sequences. And even Knack's few attempts at diversity are merely competent. The occasional platforming scenario lacks the joy of movement so necessary for jumping to be engaging, and the platform placement doesn't require any cleverness to surpass. There's not one element of Knack to rally around, to excite you. And without that special something, Knack crumbles just like its piecemeal protagonist.

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