With the LittleBigPlanet creative construction kit, developer Media Molecule gave PlayStation a new mascot back on the PS3. Two generations on, the cuddly cloth man celebrates his first solo-game debut on the PlayStation 5. After playing the game, it appears that in Sackboy: A Big Adventure, he’s still got a lot of yarn left.
Media Molecule has always been bursting with creativity, as the LittleBigPlanet titles, or more recently the PS4 game-creation epic Dreams, prove. In their latest outing, the British developers put their eponymous mascot in the care of their colleagues from Sumo Digital. After spending a lot of time in the game, the PS5 launch title proves that Sackboy is made of the right stuff even without a level editor.
Sackboy is BACK!
Sackboy made his first video game debut back in 2008, and since then, has become a PlayStation mascot with a number of spin-offs, handheld appearances, and three outstanding LittleBigPlanet offshoots. However, the PS5 launch title Sackboy: A Big Adventure (which is also available on PS4) lacks the most important and unique selling point of the series: the level editor.
Instead, for this entry, the cloth man presents himself instead as a classic 3D platformer in the tradition of Nintendo’s cult plumber, or ex-mascot Crash Bandicoot. But does it also penetrate into similar regions of fun? After playing the game, we can confirm that it absolutely DOES!
In Sackboy: A Big Adventure, the charming toy character faces off against Vex, a villain who wants to suppress artistic freedom and plunge the world of cloth into disaster. Of course, as brave cloth stretcher, we must immediately rush to the rescue.
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Creative Gameplay in Sackboy: A Big Adventure
To put Vex in his place, you must collect all the blue dreamer balls and thus get closer to the creep. On a colorful, hand-drawn world map we switch between the different levels. They are divided into five large areas, each differing from one another both visually and playfully. There’s definitely plenty of variety!
Sackboy: A Big Adventure starts slow, with the developers starting our adventure off with some initially very simple introduction levels that are perhaps a bit of a put-off. Don’t let them stop you: whilst the first few levels don’t present us with much of a challenge, which will change very soon!
Sackboy has a lot of new moves after his last appearance and was obviously in training with Mr. Miyagi during his absence. With a nimble slap we fight off the Vex’s henchmen with initial ease. There are turning attacks or stomping attacks present that even Super Mario couldn’t pull off.
This is all accompanied (on the PS5) by the successful use of haptic feedback on the DualSense controller, while the built-in speaker acoustically stages our attacks.
But Sackboy: A Big Adventure also has a lot to offer away from the fighting. For example, the title convinces with enormously creative and varied platforming levels. The brave pike reel makes this even more fun, allowing us to reach the next platform in style!
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Grip Like a Sackboy!
Once again, grabbing plays a decisive role in the varied levels. While Sackboy: A Big Adventure differs from its predecessor in terms of gameplay, the game world shows some parallels to the LBP games.
With the push of a button, Sacky holds on to lines or grabs sponges to overcome deep abysses. All of this is not really new, but with the PS5’s huge improvements to movement and action precision, it has been made even better than ever before.
This is especially evident when reaching the second world, where the platformer unfolds its full potential. Here it scores with detailed and enormously creative environments that skillfully showcase the possibilities of the new DualSense controller.
The DualSense new adaptive triggers allow a pleasant resistance to be felt when climbing in the PS5 edition of Sackboy: A Big Adventure. This has a hugely positive effect on the gaming experience, allowing for more precision and generally a more enjoyable platforming experience. Sumo Digital also make skillful use of the DualSense motion control in some areas.
The game’s optional co-op mode is particularly fun, as up to four players go hunting for Vex together on one console. In addition to the possibility of completing the entire storyline cooperatively, there is also a selection of co-op designed levels, optimal for teamwork! They all have one thing in common: they are all a lot of fun!
Note: An online co-op mode including crossplay between PS5 and PS4 will follow towards the end of 2020, as a free update.
Bouncy Music and Gorgeous Cloth Men
Some of the most playful highlights in Sackboy: A Big Adventure, however, are the music levels in which remind us of Rayman Legends (even if the implementation in the Ubisoft adventure was more coherent). Here, we are jumping around to match the beat of licensed songs like ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears or ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie.
We regularly catch ourselves humming along with a broad grin stretched across our faces, or more realistically (because we are focused too intensely on the screen), grunting along with the music. Simple and touching: great fun for the whole family, where only the rigid camera perspective and the slightly too low difficulty level give cause for criticism.
From a graphical standpoint, Sackboy: A Big Adventure also convinces with a picturesque, brightly colored cloth look. It is quite similar in its aesthetic to Yoshi’s Crafted World and also Sackboy’s previous solo outings.
The PlayStation 5 version is also technically cleaner, and runs more smoothly. It scores points with additional details and outrageously short loading times. Even if the graphics don’t set off any fireworks, Sackboy: A Big Adventure convinces with its charming and harmonious look every time.
Our Verdict on Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Those who appreciate cuddly jump-and-run platformers in the style of Super Mario Odyssey or Yoshi’s Crafted World will get their money’s worth with the PlayStation exclusive Sackboy: A Big Adventure. In fact, the title impressively proves that the gameplay loop of LittleBigPlanet is a lot of fun even without an extensive editor.
The platformer makes for good humor with its creative ideas, innovative features and excellent music levels. Especially when we add chaos in the Sack Kingdom in co-op mode.
The PS5 launch title doesn’t take any real missteps, which is why we can recommend Sackboy: A Big Adventure whole-heartedly! If you’re looking for a beautiful and charming adventure next to Spider-Man or Demon’s Souls, you shouldn’t miss the cloth man’s latest adventure!
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Originally reviewed by Philipp Briel.