It’s LittleBigPlanet but not as we know it, as Sackboy: A Big Adventure ditches the creative tool shenanigans for pure classic platformer action. But is it all just a bit wild and woolly, or is it fully sack (m-a-a-a-ate!)?
The handmade, craft-infused world of its forebear remains, and with the added graphical oomph of the PS5, textures are simply gorgeous. It also heads into full 3D, rather than the 2.5D way of LBP. But all the prettiness in the world isn’t enough to excuse a duff game – and thankfully, despite some reservations, this isn’t a duff game.
As the titular Sackboy, you get to play dress-ups while on a mission to save your fellow Sackpeople from the evil, jester-like Vex. He’s got your fellow stuffed friends building a machine that he’s christened the Topsy-Turver, and the intended use for it is to transform Craftworld from its fun, inspirational vibe to something all dark and foreboding. Kind of like if Kylie joined the Sisters of Mercy.
Luckily, you’re a resourceful little being of fluff, with abilities including running, jumping, rolling, grabbing, hovering, diving and more. You venture across five distinct worlds, disposing of enemies in various ways – smacking, jumping upon, picking up and hurling while hunting myriad collectibles. These range from costume items to medals and, most importantly of all, Dreamer Orbs, which unlock stickers, as well as later levels. These can be very sneakily hidden, sometimes behind rather obtuse puzzles.
We have to take time out to mention the sound. A bunch of licensed tunes such as Uptown Funk, Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Jungle Boogie bump up against some often-fun instrumental covers – hello nautical take on Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough, and the Danny Elfman-esque go at Material Girl (heh). In some levels it isn’t just there to provide some audible companionship, as the levels themselves bounce along and dictate how the song progresses. It really is quite clever.
There’s also some killer voice acting at play in Sackboy: A Big Advcenture, not least of all from Richard E Grant as the aforementioned villain of the piece, Vex, and Dawn French as Scarlet, who’s basically the narrator of the game.
While marketed as being playable as a single-player game, that’s not strictly true. The majority of levels and side pursuits can be conquered solo, but there are many that require at least two players – of a possible four – in order to finish You won’t be completing this game solo, which could be an issue for some.
That’s just one frustrating issue. The inability to move the camera from the viewpoint provided leads to many cheap deaths. One time, a shiny doorway leads to advancement, while a similar looking piece of scenery down the track is a doorway to death! Also, while often quite inventive, boss battles can be very challenging – which is fine for adults, but this really is aimed more at the kiddie demographic and may induce tanties. Overall, the difficulty level ebbs and flows, and cheap deaths are commonplace and increasingly frustrating. Also, many levels require several playthroughs in order to achieve every bonus, as there are many points of no return, and nothing resets – if you stuff up something, say one of the “Whack-a-Mole’ like hidden games, you have to restart the level completely to reset that small part. It’s really annoying.
If you’re sticking to your PS4 for a while then there are many better platformers, with names such as Rayman, Ratchet & Clank and Yooka Laylee. However, if you’re after a platformer for your shiny new PS5 that looks the part, Sackboy: A Big Adventure delivers, and it offers many hours of play with all the charm of LittleBigPlanet shining through.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is available now on PS5 and PS4.