Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review | ‘Competence doesn’t equal a classic’

Jason Faulkner
Sackboy: A Big Adventure Info

genre

  • Platformer

players

  • 1 - 4

Publisher

  • Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developer

  • Sumo Digital

Release Date

  • 11/12/2020
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS4
  • PS5

rating

It seems like a rule that every console needs a platformer as a launch title, and the PS5 has Sackboy: A Big Adventure. For this game, Sackboy moves up to 3D, and the world is pre-created. It’s a cute, run-of-the-mill 3D platformer that makes for a family-friendly intro to the PS5, and there’s even a PS4 version for those who aren’t ready (or aren’t able due to supply issues) to move up to Sony’s latest console yet.

Crafted for you

Sackboy A Big Adventure Review 02

Unlike the series Sackboy originated in, Little Big Planet, there’s no user-created content for Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Instead, players are introduced to Craftworld and the citizens of Loom Village, who are promptly kidnapped by the antagonist, Vex. Vex plans to use the sack people as slave labor to build his Topsy Turver machine, which will suck up all the imagination in Craftworld. Fortunately, Sackboy is able to make it to his rocketship and blast off before Vex can capture him.

Like many platformers, the story in Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a minor part of the game. There are no big ethical quandaries to examine here. Vex pops up from time to time to serve as a boss, and each world has some interesting characters, but Sackboy: A Big Adventure is very much a gameplay-focused experience.

Familiar territory

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To defeat Vex, Sackboy must venture across five themed worlds, which are all split into levels. To complete a world, Sackboy must progress to the end of the world and unlock the boss fight using a certain number of Dreamer Orbs. Dreamer Orbs can be thought of like Mario’s Stars (or Moons), and various amounts are hidden in each level. So, it’s very possible for a player to jet through levels and lack the amount of Dreamer Orbs to progress when they reach the end of a world. However, since the number of each Dreamer Orbs is given to the player before each level starts, those who keep an eye out will rarely need to grind more orbs.

The controls are tight, and levels are varied. Sackboy’s repertoire of actions is more expansive than we get with most 3D platformers, and players will pull, punch, jump, slam, and roll their way through Vex’s allies. However, the game never reaches a crescendo of difficulty, and even later worlds aren’t terribly challenging. The relatively low difficulty and bright, colorful subject matter make Sackboy: A Big Adventure the most child-friendly of the PS5’s launch titles, and local co-op multiplayer allows up to 4 parents or siblings to play together.

Stylistically, Sackboy: A Big Adventure does little to distinguish itself. It’s not an unattractive game, and both textures and effects look great on PS5. However, the craft aesthetic and the gameplay itself comes off as a bit generic. Sackboy does get a (somewhat) creepy toddler-like voice to grunt and yell in, but the lack of characterization prevents him from having the impact that Mario or even Astro Bot does.

Don’t stop the beat

Sackboy A Big Adventure Review 01

This generic feel extends to Craftworld itself. The themes for each world are very by-the-numbers. There’s a jungle world, a mountain/snow world, a space world, a water world, all mainstays of platformers since the genre was invented.

Somewhat jarringly, sometimes players will come across a level that uses licensed music as a motif. It threw me for a loop when I came across Treble in Paradise, and pretty much everything in the level was dancing to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. Sometimes the licensed music is more subtle, though. The very next level, Have You Heard, is backed by an instrumental of Junior Senior’s “Move Your Feet.”

It’s not that I disliked the use of licensed music in the game. In fact, I wish Sackboy: A Big Adventure had adopted it as a motif for each level. It would have given the design some much-needed focus. As it’s implemented now, though, I just have to wonder why one level is built around Britney Spears’ Toxic while another will feature an original, subdued backing track.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review | The Final Verdict

Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a competent platformer with tight controls. However, the generic craft theme and lack of memorable characters prevent it from being outstanding. The 3D platforming genre is filled to the brim with classics, and to stand out, a game has to do more than just be playable. There are plenty of costumes to collect and bits and baubles to pick up throughout levels, but Sackboy lacks that hook that’ll keep gamers coming back.

As a launch title, though, Sackboy: A Big Adventure succeeds in finding its niche. It’s kid-friendly, features local co-op (with online co-op coming in a future patch), and allows playing the brand new PS5 to be a family activity.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4
Rating
Box art - Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Controls are tight and Sackboy has a wide variety of movement.
Level design is varied.
Plenty of collectibles.
Generic character and environmental design lack the spark to be memorable.