PC and Xbox gamers have plenty to look forward to throughout September, and PlayStation owners are not being left out in the cold either. From AAA shooters to unique indie games, the platform is sure to supply something for everyone this month.
In the lead-up to the PlayStation 4’s release, Knack was marketed as a flagship game for the device: a new character platformer harking back to the glory days of the PlayStation 2. Unfortunately, critics were harsh on the title, with gameplay and story being major points of contention.
This lacklustre response made the unanticipated announcement of a sequel at last year’s PlayStation Experience event all the more surprising. Lead developer Mark Cerny and his team have taken more time to developer Knack II, aiming to flesh out both gameplay and story to avoid the pitfalls so prominent in the previous game.
The fundamental gameplay elements of action-platformers remain a key aspect of the title, while the abilities to change Knack’s size or alter his physical make-up to modify his skillset also return. These core talents are supported by a skill tree system that allows players to customise the character’s combat moves for a much more dynamic and satisfying experience than was found in the earlier game. Furthermore, the inclusion of co-op and the existence of tag-team attacks helps to set Knack II apart in a world where co-operative play has largely fallen by the wayside.
Another area where the developers are trying to improve is in the story, with the team having drafted God of War writer Marianne Krawczyk to help craft the narrative, which has the protagonist fighting off a new goblin threat.
With the game releasing today, reviews have already begun to emerge, and the main takeaway at present is that Knack II improves on its predecessor in some vital ways, but again fails to capture the magic that made Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, and Ratchet and Clank so beloved. Nevertheless, as a title that dares to do things differently when AAA gaming is looking towards ever more “mature” experiences, Knack II deserves more attention than it has received thus far.
Knack II releases today in the U.S. and tomorrow in PAL territories, exclusively for PlayStation 4.
Three years after Bungie introduced gamers to the shared-world shooter, the team returns with a sequel, bringing a raft of gameplay changes and the promise of a more involved narrative. While Destiny 2 will be just as multiplayer-oriented as its predecessor, solo players should find much more to sink their teeth into thanks to the attention paid to the story.
The game begins with the destruction of The Last City in an attack led by antagonist Dominus Ghaul, forcing the Guardians to flee and setting in motion players’ attempts to recapture the final outpost of humanity. With the Guardians stripped of their abilities, the journey will be long, taking players to new planets and environments heretofore unexplored.
Contrary to comments made by the developers following the original game’s release, character progression will not carry across to Destiny 2, although long-time players will be rewarded with a range of unlockables, including emblems. A part of the reason behind the decision to not carry progression forward stems from changes being made to the game’s three major classes: Titans, Hunters, and Warlocks. Although all three character archetypes will return for the sequel, each will have a new subclass that promises to drastically alter playstyle.
Further changes to the game’s structure include an expanded focus on exploration and the presence of NPCs offering sidequests, more in line with RPGs than traditional shooters. While these modifications do not make Destiny 2 into a purely single-player experience, they should provide a wealth of additional content that lone wolves should appreciate.
Destiny 2 is scheduled to launch on September 6 for PS4 and Xbox One, while PC players will have to wait until the end of August to leap into Bungie’s mythic sci-fi universe.
With Knack II and Destiny 2 both launching at the beginning of September, the end of the month is reserved for an intriguing new indie IP. ECHO is the debut effort from Ultra Ultra, a Danish studio made up of former members of Hitman developer IO Interactive.
Announced last year, ECHO is a stealth game that challenges players to evade clones of themselves, whose abilities are determined by player actions. The title is set in an ancient building known as The Palace, a relic of a lost civilisation populated by the robotic figures that give the game its name. Enemy cycles run on a loop, with new actions and behaviours being allotted during the in-game night.
Because of this process of learning and adaptation, ECHO is designed to nudge users towards a pacifist playstyle, as acting aggressively will result in the Echoes being hostile.
Few details about the story of the project are known, though players will step into the shoes of a traveller named En who seeks to “bring back a life that should not have been lost.”
The developers have built an aura of mystery around ECHO, which should make it all the more appealing when it finally releases on September 19 for PS4 and PC.
From our earlier round-ups for September, the PlayStation 4 is also receiving Project CARS 2, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Meanwhile, both PS4 and PSVita users have a plethora of Japanese games heading their way this month, with Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth out today; Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana on September 12; and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash, and The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III all available in the last week of the month.