Knack 2 (PS4)

Knack commandeers a tank partway through Knack 2. He steals it when rummaging through an important archaeological dig site. A tank is counter-intuitive to the importance of the dig, the explosive shells in particular. The little bundle of triangles blasts away from the driver’s seat, knocking over scaffolding, sheds, equipment, and more. Knack is a destructive little (sometimes large) thing, barreling through in order to rid the area of goblins. In his tank-fueled rage, Knack clearly forgot to preserve history.

Like Kirby, Nintendo’s unstoppable pink puffy creature, Knack’s mere existence is that of an end-times beast. Where Kirby can impossibly inhale trees, Knack’s ability to grow by harnessing artifacts means, theoretically, he’s invincible. Unlike Kirby’s fluffy Dreamland setting though, Knack 2 has a pseudo-serious tonality, a kid’s game yes, but not without some motivating drama. Knack’s human compatriots engage each other with internal politics regarding how best to stem the goblin invasion. Knack just points to a map and goes; a punch solves everything.

Strangely, Knack 2 is an alluringly violent videogame. It’s not gore, but impact. Knack’s rocky fisticuffs unrelentingly use power to make their point. Imagine being hit with a bundle of brick triangles and with the force of truck – that’s Knack’s offense. As much as Knack 2 is a platformer and platform puzzler, it’s combative and vicious too. For the kids, you see.

Knack himself holds back the series though. It’s likely too late to rewrite Knack’s character. His bevy of dry one-liners neither hold personality or wit. He says whatever the next screen writing cliche demands. In fact, Knack holds more personality when he doesn’t speak, in his tiniest form. Maybe the adorable quota helps – Knack is teddy bear-like in shrunken form – but the little head bobs and curious looks better the ape-like titan when at full growth.

Not that Knack 2 offers much in the way of lore to expand on things; Knack’s grumpy dialog suddenly turning cuddly/friendly couldn’t fix the Saturday morning scuffle between human and goblins. In that sense, Knack 2 is far too long. These stories work best as half-hour TV episodes, or 90-minute movies. The climax of Knack 2 comes halfway through, but then it continues and loses its momentum. The first Knack had similar issues, but both eek out their existence through satisfying and destructive play. Playing Knack 2 is equivalent to to proverbial bull in a china shop. Forget the rest; break everything, including goblin maws.


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