Sackboy: A Big Adventure was first released a couple of years ago for the PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles to a somewhat underwhelming reception. It acts as a spinoff to the LittleBigPlanet series. Unlike those titles, though, this one makes the jump to full 3D as a collectathon platformer.
With the series' traditional level creation aspect stripped out, developer Sumo Digital has opted for a finely handcrafted single-player experience. Commendable given how the 3D platformer genre is not as popular these days. Now that PC players are able to experience it for the first time ever with the latest port, is this worth a pickup?
Sackboy: A Big Adventure brings joyful platformer action to PC
Sackboy: A Big Adventure takes players to Craftworld, where everything is based off of real-life stationary items and objects. An evil threat called Vex has appeared and kidnapped Sackboy's friends to enslave them for his Topsy Turver contraption so he can turn Craftworld into an endless nightmare. As such, the titular hero must embark on a journey to save them. As expected, the story honestly comes in last place to everything else.
This sees players traverse handcrafted levels and collect Dreamer Orbs that are required to unlock new worlds. Each world is themed, like a jungle world or an underwater one. Levels feature various platformer staples, like moving platforms, hazards to avoid, and even auto-scrolling segments. While there are tons of standard orbs scattered around for players to collect, the key collectibles involve the previously mentioned Dreamer Orbs for progression and cosmetics.
There will also be varied enemies to defeat, from easy mobs to bigger brutes. Each has a different attacking pattern that players must learn and use Sackboy's moveset to defeat. But coming back to gameplay, Dreamer Orbs won't be easy to collect as many of them are often in hard-to-reach places, including hidden bonus areas that have small puzzles or platformer challenges to solve. The absolute highlight is the musical level, which also includes versions of popular pop songs such as Britney Spears' Toxic.
Jumping and rolling to victory
Completionists will want to pay attention to the criteria needed to 100% a level. For one, each level will have three ranks pertaining to the number of orbs collected during the run. So for example, this may be 1000 for bronze, 2000 for silver and 3000 for gold. Then there's the obvious Dreamer Orbs, with most levels ranging from 3-5 of them. Besides those, there will be a gift box icon which indicates the status of cosmetics collected at that level as well as an ace icon which will be highlighted if players manage to beat the level without dying.
Occasionally, there will be a cube icon, indicating another rare collectible that unlocks a brand new Knitted Knight's challenge level. These timed trials test the player's platforming skills, with faster clear times offering better rewards. All this information is viewable via the pause menu while within a level or highlighting the level on the world map. Yes, the game features a traversable, 3D world map where players can select stages to enter.
Other points of interest on the world map include transitional points to go to other worlds, a cosmetics shop, the Knited Knight trial selection menu and an occasional bonus level. The latter throws more collectibles at the player than they can shake their knitted fist at. But what about Sackboy's own traversal options? Solid movement is key to any good 3D platformer, and thankfully Sackboy: A Big Adventure delivers to an extent.
Most of your time will be spent jumping and rolling (as there is no sprint mechanic) and attacking foes with a simple punch. Players can view the Action Almanac to check out slightly more advanced movesets, like an attack immediately followed by a jump and a nosedive, acting similar to a stomp. Sometimes, players will also get weapons at certain levels to make combat more engaging, including a boomerang.
While the controls are well-done, Sackboy can feel somewhat odd to control at first thanks to being weighty. I don't know if it is just me but his jumps and attacking range seem a bit short - coupled with the clumsy feel, this is likely a design choice. But this does throw off more advanced maneuvers like nosediving since the added animation delay could cause players to miss the mark. Surprisingly though, the boss fights that these levels eventually lead to offer some of the best crafted moments of Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
Your imagination, your Sackboy
Personalization has always been the focus of LittleBigPlanet and that mantra is seen here as well despite Sackboy: A Big Adventure's linearity. There are many preset costumes to pick from before entering a level (many of which are based on PlayStation properties, like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn and Deacon from Days Gone).
However, players can also buy new accessories to dress their own Sackboy, outside of cosmetics gained for free while exploring levels. The cosmetics shop will be owned by an NPC called ZomZom and players can turn in collectibles to purchase new customization options. These range from headwear, torso and handwear items, to even skin textures and emotes.
A family-friendly experience
Speaking of challenges, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is clearly aimed at younger audiences. So, expect to be able to clear most levels without much effort. However, do expect the Knitted Knight trials and endgame levels to pose more challenges than usual, which is always welcome.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure also includes a co-op mode for up to four players, making it a great bonding experience for parents with their kids, coupled with the low skill ceiling. There are also dedicated two-player co-op levels which cannot be played without another partner. However, there are more pressing issues to look at here.
Graphics, sound and performance
Let's address the elephant in the room first. This Unreal Engine 4 platformer suffers from shader compilation stutter on PC. This means that every time a new on-screen graphical element is rendered (such as objects, effects, and so on) it will cause a brief drop in framerate. This results in a noticeable stutter, which means the first playthrough is going to leave a bad taste in players' mouths. This is a problem regardless of the target system's specifications.
On that note, the game was reviewed in custom settings which offered a solid 60 FPS (compilation stutter aside). Sackboy: A Big Adventure offers a range of options to tailor performance and visual metrics to your PC. Which brings us to the things the port does well: increased visual fidelity over even the PlayStation 5. High-end PC owners can enjoy the graphics boost thanks to ray-tracing. Support for Nvidia DLSS image reconstruction techniques also ensures lower end rigs can catch up. As for sound, the music is absolutely stellar with varied tracks for each level.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a mostly solid port of an underrated PlayStation game. It does not reinvent the wheel by any means, rather it offers a very safe 3D platformer experience that fans of the genre might have different reactions to. These may range from disappointment towards its lack of challenge and forgettable cast, to indifference at its many familiar levels of design mechanics.
Plus, the PC port is not perfect either, with shader compilation stutter bogging down the gameplay. However, it is undeniable that Sackboy: A Big Adventure still manages to impress. This is in part thanks to its beautiful visuals, great soundtrack, mostly-tight platfoming and charming set pieces.
It's not going to blow your socks away, especially given there are far more ambitious games in the genre out there. PlayStation players will not find much worth revisiting here for as most of its upgrades are technical. But what's here as a game, is most definitely bound to plaster a smile on your face from start to finish.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Reviewed on: PC (Review Code provided by PlayStation PC LLC)
Developer(s): Sumo Digital
Publishers(s): PlayStation PC LLC
Release date: October 21, 2022