Sackboy debuts as the absolute protagonist of a 3D platform in which Sumo Digital wastes imagination to say goodbye to PS4 and welcome PS5.
Platformers have plenty of reasons to jump for joy. We are experiencing a resurgence of the genre in which Mario, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot, among other icons of the jump, have given us great deliveries. It seems like yesterday that these pets dominated the consolation scene and their games decided who would win or lose the generation. The plumber defended Nintendo, the hedgehog for SEGA and the marsupial for Sony. They were good times, but a lot has changed since then. The only one of the three who remains faithful to a single company is good old Mario, while Sonic – whose company no longer produces consoles – and Crash have embraced the multiplatform format. In the shortlist between Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, only the first one boasts a platform mascot that defends its colors. At least, until now.
In the transition to the new generation, Sony has bet on a new idol of the jump: Sackboy. It is true that we already knew the cute rag doll from his adventures in the great Little Big Planet, but never has such an intense effort been made to give him prominence as in Sackboy: A Big Adventure. There is no longer any doubt of its status as a symbol, as a platform star in an imaginary as marked by action, the open world and hyper-realism as Sony’s. Not surprisingly, the great adventure of Sackboy is one of the main arguments of PS5 facing its launch. A declaration of intentions and love for the platform that invites optimism to fans of the genre: PS5 will fight. With the chest split by a zipper worthy of the best Nomura, Sony finally gives the alternative to this mountebank toy and gives it the responsibility of giving the biggest jackpot of all: the jump to the next-gen.
A world tailored to Sackboy
Sackboy’s prominence goes beyond grabbing the cover and naming the game. Everything from the level design to the overall aesthetics of the work orbits around it. Sumo Digital has conceived a world tailored to the weight, the rhythm and the certain clumsiness of his movements, more similar to those of Yoshi, who loses life with each jump, than to the surgical precision of Mario. The opposite is true of, for example, Kirby’s Dreamland. Sakurai prioritized the design of scenarios and enemies before that of the protagonist to guarantee the accessibility of the game, while Sackboy’s role in his great adventure is a pillar on which to build everything.
Starting the Reviews with this reflection is important because this was not always the case. Throughout his lovable life, Sackboy has served more as promotional material than as a proper video game character. It happened in Little Big Planet, where the priority of Media Molecule – and Sumo Digital by a certain carryover effect – was always the creation and dissemination of levels among users. Sackboy was the visible face, the protagonist of a story with tutorial delusions. Lovely and much more elaborate than any twenty minute explanation at the beginning of a title, but a tutorial nonetheless. A means to an end, but never the end itself. In Sackboy: A Big Adventure, that has changed. Freed from his status as an advertisement doll, the PlayStation mascot just has to focus on enjoying — and making us enjoy — his first great adventure.
The reinvention of Sackboy
Sackboy’s (re) debut comes with a double responsibility. In the plot, since the smiling puppet must save his friends from the clutches of Vex, a vaudeville villain who threatens the peace of Mundo Artesano. How? Through the Lifting Leg, a malevolent machine to impose its chaos and whose construction goes through enslaving all the sacks. Everyone except Sackboy, who escapes by rocket just in time. Mario made his debut rescuing a princess, Kirby recovering the food stolen by King Dedede and Sackboy saving the entire world from destruction and slavery. Not bad to start with. Although that responsibility, which is given by the history of the game, is nothing compared to what Sumo Digital had to face in a playable key.
The idea of a 3D platform starring Sackboy caught the author of these lines a bit upside down. He is a likeable character and Mundo Artesano’s imaginary exudes charisma since the first Little Big Planet. The jump, yes, has never been his strong suit. Too light and imprecise; never connected with the writer. Maybe he didn’t quite do it either with Sumo Digital, which inherited the franchise from Media Molecule and which continued to prioritize the creation of levels as the central axis of the saga. Now, after two installments and the experience of developments as diverse as Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, Crackdown 3 and Snake Pass in its history, Sumo Digital finally has the margin to take Sackboy to its territory. Something has changed so that, without reaching the levels of finesse of a certain plumber, the woolen doll gives us a more precise, agile and satisfactory platform. Sackboy jumps, rolls, punches, grabs, and swoops with praiseworthy grace. He already did a lot of those things, true, but never with such great rigor. Controlling it has never been so satisfying. And that change comes just in time for the most important appointment of her soft and warm life.
Better control is synonymous with accessibility; we all have a place on this platform. From the girl or the boy who takes a remote control for the first time to the adult skilled in a thousand jumps. Either through infinite lives – an option that can be activated from the menu – or with the 15 time trials of the Knights of the Stitch, there is room for everyone here. Maybe a bit narrower for expert players, but still hollow. As in all good three-dimensional platforms, the challenge lies in how exhaustive the search for collectibles is and how exquisite we are with the final score. One can walk through the mountains and jungles of the game without much complication, but you can also scrutinize and squeeze the title to add a certain degree of difficulty. Not at McMillenian levels, but enough to break any prejudice about the excess of kindness of a platformer who takes a little longer to show all his cards. Although Sumo Digital does not impose any requirement beyond reaching the goal, the truth is that its work well deserves an extra dedication.
Imagination in a big way
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is pure diversity and imagination for more than 10 hours. There is everything and everything is nice to see and play. Its five worlds do not lack underwater settings, bucolic meadows, snowy areas and other classics of the genre, although on few occasions we have enjoyed such precious environments. The combination of textures and the DIY look that comes with every Sackboy game looks prettier than ever here. You don’t even need to embark on the next-gen to enjoy a beautiful work. So much so that, despite the fact that we can only hold onto the spongy surfaces, we have tried to manipulate everything that populates the stage. Sumo Digital generates an irrepressible desire to touch every last object while accumulating orbs and bells, in-game currency with which to buy gestures and clothes to customize Sackboy to the fullest.
The best thing is that this waste of creativity also occurs in the playable. There is no level that does not introduce a new enemy or a new platform to interact with. In a similar way to what happens with Koeman’s Barça, here you never know what you will find after the initial whistle. Rolling yetis, plants that spit you out to teleport you, slimy concoctions to soak your feet in and climb up the walls… Sumo Digital never stops throwing up new ideas. None will revolutionize the genre, okay, but all of them are executed with great skill.
You will never get bored playing Sackboy: A Big Adventure. Instead of delving into the mechanics, enemies and obstacles associating a thousand and one uses as it does in Super Mario – the ones we brag so much about, with which we compare everything – the British study throws and discards all the ideas that come to mind . And we guarantee that there is not a single one that does not surprise and does not increase the desire to continue playing. If there is even a level to the rhythm of Bruno Mars! These musical levels may not be as great as those in Rayman Legends, but they are still very fun winks, with an incredible sound repertoire and an example of how crazy and varied this title can be. Especially as the levels pass and the relationship between creativity and challenge becomes balanced.
One leap from perfection
A but? And two too, if you like. Sackboy: An adventure in a big way is a very round video game, but not always as inspired. Enemy design is somewhat simplistic, the final bosses are too lax – if you lose, you pick up right where they beat you – and the levels designed for the most seasoned players fall a bit short in terms of difficulty. The delay of the online multiplayer does not help either, a shame considering that there are phases exclusively designed with at least two users in mind and that expressiveness in the form of – almost – infinite customization or Sackboy gestures is one of the main assets of the game. work. Not to mention how complicated – and sometimes irresponsible – it is to get several people together at home to enjoy the local cooperative. These are details that do not affect the whole experience, certainly satisfactory, but they do prevent it from being as complete as possible.
Nor is this a game that serves to define the new generation. No matter how beautiful its settings are or how good its cinematics look, showing off power will be the task of other IPs. While the performance improvements are welcome, Sackboy: A Big Adventure can be perfectly enjoyed on a PS4 without much ray-tracing. We haven’t missed reflective puddles on their cardboard worlds, if that’s what you’re wondering when reading this review. What we do guarantee is that it works great as an intergenerational title; it is a safe bet you buy it in the console you buy it.
Sackboy in New Generation
If you are considering buying Sackboy as part of the catalog of your brand new PS5, or you decide to play it on PS4 with the idea of testing it in the future on the new machine, the changes and evolutions of it will not go unnoticed. One of the specific advantages of this game is that the update to the PS5 version is automatic and free, so we can continue to enjoy it once we have crossed the bridge. When we do, we will appreciate that the game’s aesthetic peculiarity and strong visual identity makes the PS4 version not detract at all, although at the same time we will appreciate in certain areas the work that Sumo has done to give it that “next generation touch”. On a purely graphic level, there is a renewed work with lighting in general and a clear improvement in the quality of textures, more accurately reproducing the sensation of moving in a world made up of materials and fabrics familiar to our day to day. The DualSense, with its ability to reproduce sensations through its vibrations, will also be a powerful ally when it comes to immersing ourselves in the world and feeling closer to our Sackboy and his environment. It is not a groundbreaking evolution, but pronounced enough to appreciate.
Sackboy: a big adventure is a very round platform and a great title to say goodbye to PS4 and welcome PS5. Without reinventing the genre, Sumo Digital never ceases to contribute ideas and show off an immeasurable imagination in mechanics, obstacles and scenarios. It will delight the little ones in the house and will convince those who have already made a few jumps on other platforms, although we long for a little extra difficulty. Sackboy is a great addition for a genre that already has stars like Mario and Sonic, as well as for a Sony that gains diversity for the PS5 launch catalog. In the absence of the video games that will define this new generation, Sackboy: an adventure in a big way will brighten up – and much – your wait. Note: 8.
- Very solid platform; an inexhaustible source of mechanics and new ideas.
- Very squeezable, with countless additional phases and secret levels to discover.
- A charismatic and precious aesthetic that will delight those who play it.
- It proposes hundreds of ideas, but without delving into them to offer a greater challenge.
- The delay of online multiplayer, especially in times of pandemic.