Sackboy is back. To say I love this cute knitted knight is an understatement. Little Big Planet was an amazing franchise, and I have very fond memories of losing hours upon hours jumping from level to level. My small peanut brain could never compute the logic of creating a level, so I always chose to play everyone’s wonderful creations, if anything I would’ve preferred if Media Molecule focused more on creating levels rather than a tool to create levels. Well, my prayers have been answered, not by Media Molecule, instead Sumo Digital are at the helm. Sackboy: A Big Adventure is as fun as it is charming, running at a buttery smooth 60 FPS on the PlayStation 5.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is available to purchase on PS5 and PS4.
Story – The path to knitted knighthood
Vex has come to Craftworld to enslave all the Sackfolk and force them to build the Topsy Turver. You set out as Sackboy to fulfill the prophecy of the Knitted Knights to stop Vex and save all your friends. You meet a few interesting characters along the way. Scarlet is the only remaining Knitted Knight and acts as his mentor and my favourite, King Bogoff, a crustacean who only aims in life is to get as much treasure as possible.
It’s a kid’s 3D platformer, so you can’t really expect much here. Characters are all acted well, and the story takes you to a variety of locations. There are some very endearing moments between Sackboy and Scarlett, but you’ll have to play the game to see them.
Gameplay – A little big leap for Sackboy
Sackboy controls really well. In Little Big Planet, Sackboy felt quite floaty, and it made for some frustrating platforming at times. However, I was amazed at the amount of control I had when playing the Knitted Knight. You have a jump, and a hover jump similar to Yoshi, a roll to dodge enemies and to give you a small bit extra range if you mess up a jump, a punch, and a slam to destroy any enemy in your path and a grab. There are combinations of all these moves too. If you roll and press attack directly after you go into a Crash Bandicoot like spin attack, or if you attack directly after a jump, you do a jump punch. What I’m trying to get at here is that there are so many options at your disposal, so the gameplay felt fresh the whole way through.
Speaking of variety, Sumo Digital made sure that each level is distinct from the last. There are a whole host of objectives; in one level, you have to find five different keys to open up a door to the next area, or another could be a quick dash to the end while the camera quickly follows behind you. My favourites are the music levels. Surprisingly there are a few licensed songs in the game, and I was both happy and confused as to why Sackboy was running through a level with Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk playing in the background. There is also a litigiously close rendition of the Futurama theme song in a level that just so happens to be set in a futuristic city where the platforms are flying cars. When these levels are in full swing, they remind me of Rayman: Origins, and I can’t think of a better compliment than that.
Each level has the same objectives. Littered across each on are collectible orbs that are similar to the large coins in Super Mario 3D Land; on top of this, there are also costume pieces in each world, and you have to collect a certain amount of bubbles to get either a bronze, silver, or gold ranking at the end of each level as well as a reward for not dying in a level. For a completionist, there is plenty of content here. The Knitted Knight trials are where the majority of the challenge comes from. These are the game’s version of time trials, they’re not the most challenging things in the world, but I’m not looking for too much of a challenge from this game.
Now Sackboy wouldn’t be complete without a wide array of costumes to wear, and this game doesn’t disappoint. You can dress him in everything from the renaissance era clothing to a hammerhead shark. I mean, it’s not really a measurable scale, but you can guess the kind of costumes you can dress him up in. My favourite was the aforementioned hammerhead shark, with the red-eyed tree frog coming in at number two. You can choose different bits from each costume to make some very interesting combinations.
Where the game falters are the boss fights. The unique bosses at the end of some worlds and the mini-bosses are pretty fun, so are the fights against Vex, but the Vex fight is re-used multiple times. Now I know other 3D platformers are guilty of this *cough* Mario *cough*, but I would still like to see more variety in the boss fights.
Graphics and Audio – A Beautiful showcase for PS5
It’s no surprise that this game looks great. Being a cross-gen game, I was afraid that the PS4 would hold it back slightly from a visual standpoint. I’m happy to report that Sackboy: A Big Adventure looks absolutely phenomenal on the brand spanking new PS5. The colours are vibrant, character and enemy designs work so well with the arts and crafts aesthetic, and it runs so smoothly. The game oozes charm, so much so that I would say it’s on the level of charm that is on show in all of Nintendo’s platformers. Parts of levels are made up of random items like egg cartons and suitcases. It’s the little (big) things that make the levels feel alive. Even the character models, you can see the little threads hanging off Sackboy’s face when the light shines behind him. All this beauty running at 60 FPS, and don’t forget the super-fast loading speeds. I honestly don’t know what the loading symbol looks like for this game because it loads that quickly. It takes mere seconds to jump into a level from the PS5 dashboard.
How Sumo Digital uses audio in this game is brilliant. I already mentioned the levels with licensed songs, but the original tracks are just as good, especially when the levels are synced up to the music. From an audiovisual standpoint, Sackboy: A Big Adventure smashes it out of the park.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure was reviewed on PS5.