I played Knack 2 and felt nothing

Not my sharona

Knack 2 feels like a fever dream. I missed the initial reports and I missed the Knack 2 announcement. I did notice it become something of a meme online. “Knack 2” people yelled, excitedly, a self-contained joke that might have already morphed into genuine affection for Sony’s latest attempt at a mascot platformer. It only ramped up leading up to E3. The Knack 2 tweets poured in. I didn’t know it was already real.

Then I found myself at a Sony event a couple hours before their E3 presentation. I ambled around the room with a small plate: a tiny hot dog in a pretzel bun and covered in jalapenos, fries but made out of mushrooms, some other fried dough filled with molten mac and cheese. I saw a TV set up. Above it a sign read “Knack 2.” It’s 2017 and jokes are real. 

There were two levels playable for Knack 2. One focused on combat. Watching a golem made out of seven thousand fidget spinners punching shirtless humans wielding sticks like Donatello is funny, I have to admit.

In a gladiatorial arena, a woman chides Knack, “All you know is three punches and a kick.” She explains the “relic energy” that binds him together and suggests he focus it. He learns how to do an Inspector Gadget extendo-arm punch. He’s like pointy Dhalsim. He beats up more Knack-like creatures with bright green eyes. They look like Bionicle.

The second level is more platforming heavy, as the Johnny Quest-knock off kid, scientist, and burly uncle quest into the forest in search of magic science. There’s drop-in, drop-out co-op (a blue Knack monster emerges from the red one’s body; he phases back in and disappears during cutscenes). It’s fine.

The enemy animation has some cute idiosyncrasies if you look closely, but a lot of the things I punched were tiny. The one wrinkle to the otherwise standard platform jumping was sometimes having to shed some of Knack’s bulk to become little Knack in order to walk along a narrow ledge or lip in the environment. Mitigating the frustration of co-op platforming, a single button press will teleport either player right behind the other. 

Maybe the story, which I didn’t get much of, is worthwhile this time around. Maybe more move unlocks will make the combat more exciting. I was able to parry an arrow with a well-time block, but it didn’t feel necessary. It’s probably a good game to play with your youngest children, but I’m still surprised Sony is even making a new Knack.

Steven Hansen