In April 2016, when the Ratchet and Clank series relaunched, my colleague Nikita Boguslavsky wrote in his review that this is the best game for your inner child. Then I also bought a new "Ratchet", played it and sharply disagreed with Nikita, deciding that this game was just that for children, and not for adults who wanted a "cartoon" platformer. And only now, having played Knack 2, I realized how wrong I was. Ratchet and Clank was fine, I forgot what a work of art is for children.
In books, films and theatrical productions aimed at a younger audience, everything is always as transparent as possible - from the actions of the characters to their characters and motivation. This evil one, this one - good, and that one - was bad, but repented. It works the same way in children's online games, because otherwise they won't work at all. The child knows very little about the world in which he lives, and is just beginning, with the help of teachers, parents and fables, to enter what allegories and metaphors are. Therefore, he will not be able to perceive them yet, or he will not do it in full force. In Knack 2, there is nothing of the kind - an ideal child's play with an easy, I would even say - sterile plot.
This is an adventure where the heroes never face obstacles that, at least at first glance, cannot be overcome. Knack rushes forward like a tank. He is not afraid of anything, boldly bursts into the crowd of enemies - as a rule, silently, but sometimes in the cutscene preceding the battle he can give out a stamped phrase, they say, now I will ask them. And he does. Don't expect intrigue.
There is not a single dramatic moment, and the only worthy joke for the whole game is self-irony on the topic of a primitive combat system.
The game is very drawn-out: until you realize that Nack can actually do more than two hits and a jump, you have time to turn off the console and forget everything like a bad dream. Imagine: here you play for a couple of hours, bored, content with two tricks and outdated QTEs from the ancient online games about Spider-Man, and then - bam! - there are three receptions. In another two hours there will definitely be four receptions, but where will you be at that moment? Most likely in some other game.
The only thing that can hold you back is a unique opportunity with one click of a button to turn the cutest protagonist, who looks like a toy from a puppet theater, into a mixture of a dog and a monkey, assembled from wooden, judging by the sounds, cubes for children and with the personality of a stern man in adulthood ...
No, really, it's very funny. Little Knack doesn't speak, but in some cutscenes he sighs and sighs touchingly. You press the button, and in a second there is an eternally gloomy spiky little image in front of you, scattering everyone "from the turntable". Amazing.
However, this is not a particular advantage of Knack 2, but a feature of the series - we already saw this in the first part 4 years ago. The same goes for all gameplay. The levels are new, but the pattern is easily recognizable: a fixed camera, closed arenas with packs of small enemies alternate with platforming elements, the behavior of opponents is also practically no different from the original.
An experienced player has nothing to do in Knack 2. It is worth launching it only if you are a big fan of good and, I repeat, sterile online games that do not evoke emotions, but only feed you more and more new levels. Beautiful - if you do not cling to some outdated graphics - and creative, but not challenging the player regardless of the difficulty level. If this is not the first time you have been holding a controller in your hands, then for the whole game, which lasts 15 hours, you will find no more than 3-4 locations that you cannot go through the first time.
The authors of the game are obsessed with gigantism, at times it even comes to the point of being funny. You play and think: "Well, this robot was really big." It turns out not. There is even more - so much so that you can climb into it and take control. And after that, when you already thought that you have seen everything in the world, you meet such a huge one that there is a whole location on its back.
At the same time, they do not give much time to control the giant Knack - 10-15 minutes at the end of each story chapter. And that, of course, is as frustrating as having the same looping storytelling pattern at every level.
At the beginning, Nack is no larger than a man and occasionally sheds all excess armor to squeeze into narrow openings, and then gradually grows until it becomes the size of a house. Then there is a transition to a new location, and each time, under different pretexts, Nack loses the accumulated "children's cubes" (in fact, these are some kind of ancient relics). And so 15 times.
I am glad that the sequel did not forget the main thing that was in the original - the original design of the puzzles. They are all primitive, but coolly implemented: Nack can attach to his unusual body not only relics, but also pieces of ice, thus acquiring the ability of chilling breath; metal filings and pure crystal, helping Nek to pass unnoticed by the laser fence.
Despite the fact that the puzzles are so simple that even calling them puzzles is uncomfortable, the game has a detailed hint system. Lost for a minute? You press up, and the game will show in detail what is required of you: and where to jump, and what to press, and where to move the box. The only thing that the game will not tell you about (at least for the first time) is the location of secret locations, of which there are a lot in the game, and you can only get to them with a little Knuck, which makes their search even more difficult. But there you can get spare parts from devices that help in the game - from frankly fraudulent teleportation to the ground, if you fell into the abyss, to additional mechanics. For example, the combo meter increases hit damage until the combo is interrupted.
My favorite platformer was and remains the series about Sly Cooper's raccoon, because even despite the cartoon characters and the "cartoon" setting, these games accompanied me for 10 years of my life and at every stage could offer me something worthwhile. Even the last part from third-party developers - Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time - I went through with great pleasure, because I saw in it references to modern culture that no child is able to grasp. For example, references to the movie "Back to the Future".
There is nothing like this in Knack 2. The developers have done everything to make your child have fun playing, and so that he can develop spatial reasoning and fine motor skills in a relaxed atmosphere. But no one thought about the parents and simply more mature and experienced fans of the genre.