Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review – A Finely Crafted Adventure

After a six-year absence, PlayStation’s knitted icon returns in stunning form in one of the year's best platformers.

It doesn’t feel like that long ago everyone was talking about LittleBigPlanet on the PS3. But for Sackboy, an icon of that bygone era, it's been over six years since he's made a new appearance.

Though original developers Media Molecule have moved on to thecreative playground that is Dreams, Sackboy hasn't been forgotten. His legacy is now in Sumo Digital’s hands, and with the studio's latest effort, Sackboy is back  triumphantly so.

Rather than develop a brand new LBP game, Sumo Digital has brought fans Sackboy: A Big Adventure, a spin-off that ditches the main series' creative mode for a Super Mario 3D World-esque platforming experience.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review  A Finely Crafted Adventure

Sackboy begins with peaceful Craftworld under threat from the villainous Vex (played by the wonderful Richard E. Grant), a puppet-esque villain attempting to enslave Craftworld to create his “Topsy Turver,” a machine designed to turn this planet into a nightmarish hellscape.

Managing to escape this fiend, Sackboy sets out to stop him, aided by Scarlet (played by the equally wonderful Dawn French), a Knitted Knight who mentors our knitted friend into becoming a Knight himself and stopping Vex’s nightmare from coming to fruition.

A journey across five different worlds, which range from the underwater delights of Crablantis to the jungle-themed Colossal Canopy, Sackboy can be played just fine as a single-player game, but the biggest delights come from its co-operative mode, allowing four players to join in at once.

One thing you’ll immediately notice when entering these worlds is just how stunning this game is. Running at a smooth 60 frames per second, SABA makes effective use of the PS5 hardware to create a colorful aesthetic filled with cute designs and heartwarming creatures. It also retains those same visual quirks from LittleBigPlanet, so expect to see plenty of cardboard cut-outs and stickers as you progress.

Some stages are specifically co-op only, requiring you and a partner to put your heads together to solve certain puzzles and overcome obstacles. Unfortunately, Sackboy only features local co-op currently; online multiplayer was delayed until later this year. It’s hard not to feel disappointed by the feature's absence so close to launch, but at least it’s on the way soon.

Sackboy has a variety of different moves to help him through each level, letting you punch, roll, jump, and more. It’s not as simple as just defeating enemies and moving on, though: mechanics differ between levels, including climbing onto sticky surfaces or using the DualSense controller to move platforms.

Each world ends in a boss fight, which feels challenging but never infuriatingly so. They are more a matter of learning attack patterns and timing your strikes than anything else.

In terms of the core gameplay, SABA nails it. Levels are well designed and balanced, packed with imagination. You couldn’t ask for a better co-op game at the PS5's launch.

Each world is absolutely brimming with content and contains many hidden tidbits to discover, from secret rooms marked by zipped-up doors to disguised pathways leading to concealed goodies. Your primary objective in Sackboy is to collect Dreamer Orbs required to unlock more segments of the map. They often tie into these secret areas, which, alongside Knitted Knight time trial stages, adds a lot of replayability. 

At the end of each level, your performance is ranked based on how many score bubbles you collect across the stage, granting you a bronze, silver, or gold trophy. That, in turn, gives you golden collectibles, which act as your currency. These can be used to purchase new costumes, costume pieces, and emotes from Zom Zom, a French merchant with a love of collectibles, giving you a fantastic range of customization options. 

A remarkable soundtrack accompanies you on your journey, taking a cue from Rayman Legends where some levels revolve entirely around a set of licensed songs, ranging from Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk to Britney Spears’ Toxic. Though standard gameplay is really enjoyable, this is an undeniable highlight, and it’s hard to not find yourself singing along as you play.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Platforming is very precise
  • Excellent voice acting
  • Adorable aesthetic
  • Great fun in co-op mode
  • Strong replay value

Cons

  • Online multiplayer not available at launch
  • Sometimes a bit too easy

It’s difficult to say anything bad about Sackboy: A Big Adventure. No online multiplayer at launch is admittedly disappointed; combat is slightly basic but does what it needs to, never feeling too complicated; and levels can be rather easy.

But overall, there’s plenty of content here for veteran platforming fans, some of which will put their abilities to the test. Sure, SABA won’t revolutionize 3D platformers, but Sumo Digital has created a highly refined experience for Sackboy’s grand return, something that really drew me in.

With an A-list cast, superb visuals, and some strong co-op gameplay, Sackboy: A Big Adventure successfully proves that Sackboy can thrive without LittleBigPlanet’s creation mechanics, all while still paying homage to his roots. It’s genuinely wonderful to see this PS3 icon return once more, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.

Our Rating
9
After a six-year absence, PlayStation’s knitted icon returns in stunning form in one of the year's best platformers.
Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Published Dec. 3rd 2020

Cached - article_comments_article_67721
Related
More Sackboy: A Big Adventure Content