Reviews

Pure, childlike happiness – Sackboy: A Big Adventure review

For many, the LittleBigPlanet series was what a lot of players grew up on. For me, that’s quite the opposite. You see, I skipped the PS3 and chose the Xbox 360 as the console to introduce me to that generation of games. Just like PS3 players of the LittleBigPlanet series, I developed a lot of memories with my console and its respective games. So, stepping into Sackboy: A Big Adventure, I had no idea what I would experience, and I’m going to be straight to the point; it was incredible.

I definitely grew up on platformers on my PS1 and PS2. Games like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, the rather forgotten Monkey Magic; I played a ton of ‘em. They were a staple part of my gaming experience when I was a young kid, but now I’ve moved on from platformers and taken a strong liking to games such as the Call of Duty series, Splinter Cell series, and generally just first-person shooters and other stealth titles. In all honesty, to go from action-heavy games with gratuitous violence to a kid-friendly platformer was a jarring change.

But, for some reason, Sackboy reignited a fire I didn’t think could ever exist again — childhood happiness. Even though I never played the LBP series, Sackboy made me feel like I already did. Working through the levels, listening to the soundtrack, and squishing all these enemies, for some reason I felt like I went back to 2003 when I got a copy of Spyro the Dragon for the PS1 and was doing exactly the same thing. Sackboy, for some reason, is a childhood time machine…

… But, that’s enough of a nostalgia trip for a series I never played, let’s discuss the gameplay and what makes Sackboy so special. As we know, Sackboy is a platformer. Players will be given the chance to use everything that Sackboy has at his disposal to clear those platforms, including dodging mid-air, jumping, and fluttering (allowing Sackboy to hover for a few seconds). You can even chain these moves together to get twice or thrice the distance. Of course, you and Sackboy will encounter many types of enemies along the way. These enemies can be eliminated either by rolling attacks, nosediving, slapping, or just jumping on their head like you’re Mario.

Sackboy is so refreshing, and so fun!

The gameplay is very easy, and any experienced player will be able to complete those levels in minutes. That being said, the challenge lies in Sackboy not getting hit in his attempts to navigate to Vex (the villain here, but more on the story later), because he can only take 1 hit before any other damage will cause him to lose a life. Sackboy can replenish health at checkpoints, but only the ones that aren’t currently activated. Sackboy also only has 4 lives, but he can collect more when he destroys out any balloons or crates that house Bells.

As for the Bells, or Collectibells (nice play on words there, Sumo Digital), Sackboy can collect 2 kinds. The first kind, and the one that’s most abundant, are the silver Bells. Silver Bells can be found by eliminating Vex’s forces or destroying destructibles, and they’re effectively redeemed at the end of each level, where if you collect enough within a score bracket you’ll receive a bronze, silver, or golden prize (collecting any of the higher prizes will net you the others). Golden Bells can also be found in the levels, but are much harder to come by. They’ll come from destroying destructibles or doing special tasks like planting seeds in a pot. These can be redeemed at Zom Zom’s. Who’s Zom Zom you ask? Well, he’s the little Sackling that first appeared in LittleBigPlanet 3, and just like in LBP3 he runs a costume shop. Zom Zom has a variety of cosmetics and emotes that players can equip to Sackboy, letting them stand out amongst their friends in the co-op mode or just to look good in their solo playthrough.

Because of the low skill rating, it’s super duper easy to speedrun the levels

Speaking of playthroughs, let’s discuss the story. I won’t share spoilers, but, I will say that the story is rather forgettable. There wasn’t a lot that stood out to me, and it definitely doesn’t try anything new. If anything, it’s a rather predictable narrative right from the get-go. Of course, the game is designed for kids at the end of the day, so a weaker narrative is to be expected. The game begins by opening up into a cutscene showing Vex assaulting Craftworld, and taking all the Sacklings (bar Sackboy) along with him. His plan is to build a device called the Topsy Turver, which would grant him full control of Craftworld. Sackboy must thwart Vex at every turn, taking on both his minions and underlings (in the form of mini-bosses). Sackboy has a few friends to aid in his adventure as he tries to save his friends, and the world itself.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to test out the co-op mode since online co-op wasn’t active at launch. I would have tested out local co-op since the entire campaign (and a few extra co-op-only levels) can be played with 2-4 players, but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option (I didn’t have a spare DualSense controller available). But, it’s safe to say that the game would only benefit playing with friends. It’s definitely an option you should take up if you can, because who doesn’t love couch co-op? However, just like me, if you don’t have that option available, then playing solo is perfectly fine as well.

Loads and loads of cosmetics and emotes to unlock

There’s plenty of content in this game to keep you interested after completing the campaign. There’s more to unlock in each level besides Bells, and they come in the form of either cosmetics/emotes, orbs, or cubes. Cosmetics we already understand, so we don’t need to delve further into that. Orbs on the other hand are the main currency to get through each level. At the end of each level, Sackboy will deposit the required amount of orbs to complete it. This might be 20 orbs, or 60 orbs; regardless, make sure you’re making a habit to hunt them down in each level. They might be locked away in a secret area, or placed in plain sight. Collecting all the orbs in a level rewards you with a sticker for the sticker journal, and is a great way to track how many areas haven’t been 100% completed. The other thing to hunt for are cubes, and they provide even more content to the game. Cubes unlock Knitted Knight Trials, which are speedrun challenges designed to test your skill and understanding of the mechanics. Some are rather easy, while others may take a couple of hours to complete. I won’t spoil what the last challenge is, nor how to get it, as it will spoil the end of the campaign. But, I will leave you with this; make sure you get gold on all those Trials, because you’ll need that knowledge.

The game, of course, is mostly designed for children. I mean, why wouldn’t it be? LBP has always targeted the younger generation, so don’t expect that much of a challenge bypassing these levels. Of course, the speedrun challenges are there to stress test your skill, which means they are suited to a more skilled generation of players. But, ignoring that, this game is very, very easy. I really meant it when I said it only takes minutes to complete the levels and it doesn’t help with the amount of game mechanics designed to assist the player. You’ll eventually find these items in the form of, say, hovering boots and laser-firing gauntlets. While they are placed there to freshen up the gameplay and add a new dimension to the platforming, they also make it very easy to complete basic things like taking out Sackboy’s enemies and navigating through the general platforming sections. Thankfully, they’re only present for certain times within a level, so the player doesn’t just witness the skill ceiling drop immensely.

An example of a designated speedrun level

Speaking of levels and platforming, one of the best things this game has to offer is the level design. Each level is more unique than the last, and I don’t mean by the general aesthetic (by the way, the graphics — they’re INSANELY good). There’s so much to experience in the game, and they come by way of newly added ways of navigating the levels. They might be bubbles that you can hop into and between other bubbles, letting you ride them like an elevator. Or, they might be ways the player can interact with the world. Whatever it might be (and I’ll let you experience them on your own), all of them positively added to the gameplay. If it’s not added mechanics that enhance the levels, it’s the levels themselves. Every single one is fun in their own right, and they only get better. Seriously. I got even more hooked on the game because of how interesting the levels kept getting, and I never felt like I was experiencing the same thing twice.

Now I’ll add a bit of a spoiler warning here, as players may not want to read the next paragraph but experience this on their own for the first time. So, reader discretion is advised.

One of the coolest things this game has to offer (I know, another thing to praise) is that some levels have popular songs integrated into the experience. What do I mean by that? Well, one of the levels revolves around the song Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, and the gameplay is designed in a way to mimic the rhythm of the song. It’s incredible, and as someone who adores this sort of musical design choice, I applaud it immensely. It wasn’t cringey or weird to experience; it felt like I had a small playground designed specifically for me that plays in tune with a great song. It’s strange to experience, given that this game isn’t a rhythm game by any means, but it’s still something that made me giddy like a kid again.

One of the music levels, look at that lil flower vibe! (PS: Not a spoiler)

There’s not a lot of bugs to experience, and that’s something great to see in a launch title. The only thing I found that was a bit of an issue was when Sackboy is present in a cutscene, then when it cuts to the next scene with him in it you can see the hair physics bounce as if the hair is literally just getting rendered in. It sometimes took me out of the immersion, sometimes it was funny to look at. Otherwise, the game ran perfectly.

Sackboy: A Big Adventure is an amazing launch title for the PS5. It does come with a hefty price tag for a game designed for children, but there’s a lot of content to keep all kinds of players enthralled. Thankfully, for a launch title, there are no major bugs to address (just one minor hair glitch that doesn’t impact the gameplay), which is also a huge bonus. Sackboy has some of the best mechanics to keep players entertained as they navigate through platforming, boss fights, and speedrun challenges. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something to chill out on, or just to get that pang of nostalgia from the LittleBigPlanet series. All in all, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a game that I couldn’t recommend enough.

85

Great

Sackboy A Big Adventure

Review Guidelines

Sackboy is the perfect launch title to initiate young children into the next generation of games, as well as provide a rewarding and enjoyable experience for everyone else. Even though it launches with a hefty price tag, the amount of content this game has to offer more than covers its cost. Plus, you can either play this one with or without friends, and it will undoubtedly entertain all for hours. The mixture of fantastic level design, coupled with a great soundtrack, will reignite that lost feeling of childhood happiness.

With a deep interest in writing, Ben followed that into a Journalism degree. As an avid lover for gaming, he is constantly expanding his library with console, PC, and VR games. He's obsessed with stealth games and loves hunting down the smallest of details inserted by devs.
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