Review | Sackboy: A Big Adventure
The LittleBigPlanet series has gone through a lot of genres, but most will always know it as a platformer. While the originals were focused on creation, Sumo Digital’s new Sackboy: A Big Adventure focuses on the platforming gameplay. It might not be the most original platformer, but it’s still a surprisingly good time.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure starts off when the evil Vex appears and abducts several of the citizens of Craftworld. Using them to build his Topsy Turver, he plans to recreate the world in his new vision. Fortunately, Sackboy manages to avoid Vex’s attack and recovers a map to follow his trail. With the mission to collect Dreamer Orbs, Sackboy must put a stop to Vex’s plans. On his journey, Sackboy will come across several new friends and face many perils as well. The story is simple, but it has a ton of heart in it thanks to full voice work and fun characters. I’ll admit that it didn’t pull me in at first, but roughly halfway through, I found myself invested to see things through.
The story will help to motivate you through dozens of stages across several worlds. Gameplay will feel reminiscent of Super Mario 3D World, though it still manages to find an identity of its own. You’ll run through stages collecting score orbs, Dreamer Orbs, costumes, and “Collectabells” as you make your way to the goal. Sackboy will have the ability to jump, roll, and even do a Yoshi-like flutter jump. He’ll also have a slap attack, a ground slam, and even the ability to grab objects and enemies. While these are enough to warrant your typical platforming adventure, Sackboy goes even further with special tools.
Over the course of the game, you’ll pick up various tools like the grappling hook-like Clawstring. This allows you to not only grapple and swing across bottomless pits, but it can also grab far away objects. The Whirltool is basically the Wingstick from the Rage series, able to take out foes from a distance. You can even use it to solve various puzzles. Finally, the Plasma Pumps basically turn Sackboy into Iron Man, allowing him to hover and shoot energy projectiles. All these tools add a ton of variety to the gameplay, and I applaud the developers for coming up with several creative ways to use them.
One thing that makes Sackboy: A Big Adventure great is the variety in the levels. Most levels feel pretty unique, utilizing special ideas or clever level design. One level, you might be herding sheep-like creatures while in another, you’ll be sliding down a perilous slide. While some ideas repeat, they still manage to differentiate themselves from each other. Perhaps some of the best stages are the music levels, taking chart topping songs and applying them to the rhythm of the level. Running through a stage to David Bowie, Bruno Mars, or even Britney Spears adds a surprising pep in your step.
As you collect Dreamer Orbs, you’ll find several ways for them to hide themselves in the various levels. Some will be in secret compartments while others might be split into fractions to collect. There’s even special doors to find in multiple levels that take you to puzzle rooms where you can earn a Dreamer Orb. Honestly, some are pretty well hidden and it’ll take some expert exploration to find them all. You’ll need to collect enough to make progress to the next world, so it’s not enough to just complete the levels.
Sackboy will also come across several challenges like large bosses, chase levels, and even Vex himself. Bosses range from incredibly easy to frustratingly difficult, but never to an extent where you’ll feel like they’re impossible. If you can manage to complete stages without dying, you’ll ace the level, marking it with your triumph. You’ll also unlock Knitted Knight stages, which are obstacle courses designed to test your skills. These stages grant Dreamer Orbs to those with the fastest times, and it offers some of the most fun platforming challenges in the game. Of course, that is until you unlock the final stage which combines all of them into one stage with no checkpoints.
For the presentation, the game offers a fun craft-like world, much like previous LittleBigPlanet titles. The graphics are fairly excellent too, easily being the best looking game in the franchise. Textures are highly detailed and the lighting is fantastic for most situations, though there are a handful of exceptions. Even the animation is a notable step up, with Vex especially being fun to watch for his diabolical expressions. As with previous LittleBigPlanet games, you’ll also be able to customize your Sackboy in fun costumes. Joining the fun licensed tracks is a great soundtrack of jazzy beats and catchy rhythms. The music also seems to be somewhat dynamic, only moving forward based on stage progress, which is a nice touch.
Finally, we can’t forget about the multiplayer. Sackboy: A Big Adventure offers up to four player platforming mayhem for every stage. While you can complete the game solo, there are stages that you can only play with at least one other player. These co-op stages utilize extra puzzles that require teamwork to progress. It’s unfortunate that solo players aren’t able to participate, but at leas the game now offers online multiplayer after a recent update. You can even play cross-platform between PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. If you’re familiar with the four player Mario platformers, then you’ll have a general idea of what to expect. It’s fun, but also pretty nuts.
While I didn’t have as great a time with Sackboy: A Big Adventure as I did Astro’s Playroom, this was still a fun time. It’s definitely a much longer platformer, and it offers a lot more challenge as well. It doesn’t take as much advantage of the DualSense controller on PlayStation 5, but this is likely due to the game being available on PlayStation 4 as well. Either way, Sackboy is still a strong platformer for friends and families to play together this holiday season. The levels are diverse, the music is catchy, and the charm is excellent.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10
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