Out of all the great first-party titles being delivered by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PS5's launch, Sackboy: A Big Adventure was one of my most anticipated. The title, developed by Sumo Digital, looked to take the beloved Little Big Planet series in a new direction, re-laying the foundations of what the series is built upon. For the most part, this is done in an exceptional way, but there are occasions where I feel disconnected to the original brilliance that was Little Big Planet. But, before I get into the nitty-gritty, let's start with the storyline.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is set in the creative world of Craftworld, a land bursting with joy and passion, populated by strange creatures and many Sack people. The adventure starts when on a particularly tranquil day, a terrifying jester puppet known as Vex bursts out of a portal and begins to abduct the Sack folk, explaining how he intends to use them as a workforce to build the chaotic and frightening Topsy Turver machine. Sackboy, being the fearless hero he is, manages to escape the clutches of Vex, and sets off on a journey across the many unique realms of Craftworld to find and free his people from the villainous foe, learning along the way that he might just be made of the right material to become one of Craftworld's protectors, a Knitted Knight.
Unlike a regular Little Big Planet game, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is not 2.5D, this title is primarily a 3D platformer, built with platforming mechanics in mind in most cases. If you are expecting another title where you can sticker bomb levels or spend hours creating your own, this is not it. Sackboy actually more resembles a Mario platformer than it does Little Big Planet.
There are still a huge amount of similarities, for example, every location and character looks like it was built in a craft shop, with odd bits of materials used randomly. Whether you visit The Interstellar Junction or The Kingdom of Crablantis, everywhere still booms with the signature Little Big Planet charm that captured all our hearts over 12 years ago. This is an area Sumo Digital has exceeded expectations with because it is simply adorable, no matter where you go, or what you do.
On that note, a lot of what you will be asked to do revolves around interacting with the world and solving environmental puzzles. These are generally based around movement and will ask you to frequently be swift on your feet. This could be a series of jumping challenges, for example, or even a combat based encounter, but the days of solving a problem by placing a sticker over it are long gone.
Sackboy is still a very user-friendly game, as platforming and combat in this title is simple to grasp. The mechanics themselves are limited, in fact, other than jumping, grabbing, and slapping, there is very little else to master, aside from a few usable items such as a grappling hook or a three-pronged boomerang. Combat revolves around slapping enemies, where most will take two hits to defeat, and likewise you as Sackboy can only receive two hits before having to respawn at a checkpoint. Enemies, however, have predictable attacks and can be easily brought down provided you take your time with them.
Bosses are a little more challenging, mainly because they leave you much more open to damage, and require a lot of hits to bring down. I won't delve into the intricacies of each fight to prevent spoilers, but it is worth knowing that pretty much all boss encounters will introduce an entirely new set of mechanics to learn and adapt to.
Aside from just completing the regular storyline, Sackboy offers plenty of collectibles and side activities to search for within a level. Whether that means collecting all of the wearable items, going undying throughout a level, or even beating the score records for some new gear, there are a ton of ways to keep you entertained. The main issue is the gameplay loop quickly forms and you end up just looking for the same sort of items as you move across a level. It does become a little repetitive.
You can also unlock several side-levels that will provide extra challenges and more unlockable gear. They can be co-op only levels (which we are yet to check out due to pre-launch access) or Knitted Knight Trials that test your skills in a much more demanding platforming style. These levels are time trials where you will have to be very fast and agile to get a top score to earn maximum rewards and believe me, they are not for the faint-hearted.
Sackboy has two main sets of currency. One is the Orbs that you will find throughout levels and are required to unlock the boss encounter at the end of a world before you can jet off to another location. The second is Collectabells that you can use to buy new outfits, skin materials, or facial features from Zom-Zom's shop. All of the items in the game can be unlocked through playing, but should you want to change your appearance, you will have to visit Zom-Zom, as the iconic Little Big Planet inventory bubble is long gone.
Little Big Planet has always had great music accompanying its gameplay however, this title is something else, as some levels have unique tracks integrated in a way, whereas you move along a level so does the music. These levels aren't just lyric-less music either, they are well-known tracks, for example, Uptown Funk, or a David Bowie song, and the way they are incorporated makes you feel so much more alive and immersed.
On top of this, the DualSense once again proves its prowess with the use of haptic feedback and controller sounds. Admittedly, I didn't feel the impact of adaptive triggers, if at all, but the next-generation vibrations really do make Craftworld feel more alive than ever, which is bolstered by the fact that it looks stunning using the PS5's hardware running in 4K.
What I will say about Sackboy: A Big Adventure is that I spent a considerable amount of time with this title and whilst it never left me jaded, I was left feeling a little lost at times. The gameplay is tight, easy to understand, great for all audiences, and the storyline, soundtrack, and world design is fantastic, as you would expect from a Little Big Planet game. Are there areas I wish would return? Without a shadow of a doubt, but does this give me hope for a brilliant future with Sackboy at the helm? Yes. Yes, it does.