Review by Alaisdair Leith
Living in a material world
Ah Sackboy, the mascot for the PS3 era and to a lot lesser extent PS4 (Sorry LBP3 you just couldn’t cut the mustard!) But with the launch of the PS5, the good news is that Sackboy is back front row and centre in a new platform set completely apart from the Little Big Planet games. The original creator Media Molecule are busy with their gaming simulator Dreams, the reigns are now taken over by UK’s Sumo Digital (Team Sonic Racing, Crackdown 3) who have delivered a colourful, creative and above all else fun platformer to welcome the Playstation 5.
The story is still set in Craftworld where the Sacklings live in different areas. Everything looks peaceful and fun when Vex (Richard E.Grant) enslaves the sackings to work on his Topsy Turver in an attempt to take over the entire universe. Our hero Sackboy escapes the attack and sets out on a mission to stop Vex with the help of his new mentor Scarlet (Dawn French). The story takes place over 5 different themed areas (and a couple more when you are finished) to save the world from Vex and free the Sacklings from his control.
The main focus of the game is platforming, jumping (well bouncing!), grabbing onto grips and using various gadgets to reach different areas, easily obliterate enemies that will test your patience. Everything though is a lot of fun and there is a focus on collecting as many orbs as you can (recognisable from the previous games in the series) as well as costumes, costume pieces and the new collectabells that allow you to purchase new items from Zom Zom’s store located in every hub world. There are 8-10 levels in every world along with a boss level and a level that requires 2 players to enter and complete. The kicker here is that it does have to be local co-op, online play is not available for this game at launch which is probably the biggest disappointment for the game. For me the only option I have with restrictions is for my non-gamer partner to help me play these levels and with questions like “What button is R1 again?”, the experience didn’t last for long. That being said these co-op levels are much more challenging than their single player counterparts and I look forward to further exploring these when online play opens up.
In addition to the main hub worlds, there are additional levels called the Knitted Knight Trials. This is where the main social aspect of the game kicks in. The aim of these is to get to the end of the level as quickly as possible. This then gets posted in your Game Hub and as your PSN friends do the same trials, you will get a notification of your ranking and can reattempt these to help gain back the lead. It is a fun and great social feature of the game and hope that this is something that future games utilise.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the DualSense controller. While it is not as intense as Astro’s Playroom, the constant rumbles, shocks and screams from the controller keeps you feeling you are part of the game. There are parts of the game that require you to pull a wire to access orbs and the resistance on the adaptive triggers really kick in here. In addition double jumping to reach higher platforms are echoed through the controller and vibrations are spectacular and really help immerse you into the game.
Visually the game is stunning. Craftworld is filled with different characters, critters and so much colour it can not help but be infectious. I did not stop smiling the entire time I was playing the game, this also goes hand in hand with the music. There is a TON of licensed music in the levels and this gets cranked up a notch, in each world there is a featured song across one level in which Sackboy and the inhabitants of the level move to the beat. These are the levels that shine and I found myself playing them over and over again to collect everything as they were so much fun.
Sumo Digital has resurrected Sackboy and delivered a solid platformer on par with games like Super Mario 3D and Yoshi’s Wooly World. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of previous Playstation platforms like Crash Bandicoot, it does a great job of showcasing the new features on the Playstation 5 and the DualSense controller. Hopefully the game does well and this idea of Sackboy as the PS5 mascot can develop and evolve into something great in future titles (let’s all be grateful it isn’t Knack this time around!) If you are looking for a platformer that utilises the best of the PS5 features and that will make you smile, this is the launch game you have been looking for.
Sackboy A Big Adventure is now available exclusively on Playstation 5.
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