Knack was the poster-child for the typical launch game: a decent showcase of the PS4’s technical capabilities while just being serviceable as an entertaining video game. While I feel Knack receives more vitriol than it probably deserves, the throwback-style platformer also didn’t light my world on fire enough to have me salivating over a sequel. But that’s what we’re getting, and after playing Knack 2 at E3 2017, I'm not convinced that there's much there to sufficiently separate itself from its predecessor.
Knack 2’s primary hook is the addition of two-player co-op. Players can romp through the colorful world together, whether from the outset or during single play thanks to a drop-in/drop-out feature. Platforming makes my soul smile, so I coerced my fellow attendee into choosing the traversal-focused opening segment (the other available level was an action-heavy combat showcase). Knack 2’s mechanics and design are identical to the first game save for a new shield Knack can conjure to repel attacks, adding a wrinkle of depth to the beat-em-up-style combat.
The cooperative gameplay design featured in this slice was nothing remarkable. Seesaw platforms, ziplines across gaps, floors that dip in and out of walls. It sounds like I’m skipping details, but I really can’t think of anything mechanics worth discussing in-depth. Knack 2’s challenge mainly derived from my less-than-skilled partner struggling to keep up with me (not his fault. I’m quite adept at platformers). Thankfully, hitting the right trigger lets players instantly warp alongside their companions, which helped keep our adventure rolling along. A team-up attack is also present, although there weren't any enemies worth using it on. We did, however, gang up on some unsuspecting crystals and crates.
As we hopped about and pummeled anything that wasn’t made out of metallic Toblerones, I couldn’t help feeling I’d had my fill of the game once the demo wrapped up. Everything felt like an extended déjà vu sequence guest starring a stranger, and nothing presented in my particular demo (I never got around to the combat scenario) compelled me to want to play another Knack game. Co-op worked well enough and should be welcome addition for fans, though that’s primarily because most games are inherently more fun with someone else and not because anything Knack 2 did with the feature. We’ll see how everything comes together when Knack 2 launches September 5. But unless you’re a diehard Knack enthusiast or feel deprived of 3D platformers and will take anything, I wouldn’t expect much to get you on board if you weren’t keen on the first title.