Move Over Mario, There’s a New Sack in Town
I first saw Sackboy: A Big Adventure during the PS5 UI live stream and while I was, of course, very interested in seeing what the PS5 UI is like, I was also immediately charmed by the game. It’s cutesy crafted aesthetic is something we’ve seen before in Little Big Planet, but I never really got into LBP.
The platforming in Little Big Planet was decent but the main focus of the game was the level editor and the community sharing which didn’t really attract me at all, so I didn’t give the series much of my attention. Flash forward to 2020 and Sackboy is back, but the new developers taking charg have decided to do away with the level creator and focus on making the best possible Platforming title to see in the next gen.
Ultimately, it was a good move and they did an incredible job of making a platformer which, like many Mario games, is simple to play but has the capacity for more complex manoeuvres. Combine excellent gameplay mechanics with a charming crafted aesthetic and the PS5s power to render it all in stunning detail and you find yourself with yet another masterpiece to add to the PlayStation collection of exclusives.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review
The game begins with a happy view of Craftworld. Sack-people are everywhere, simply enjoying life in general. That is, until an old nemesis appears to ruin everything.
That’s right, Vex – Who I had no prior knowledge of whatsoever – has returned and intends on making everybody really ruddy miserable. Using his new secret weapon, the “Topsy Turver”, Vex intends to take all the dreams, imagination, and creativity in Craftworld and turn it into nightmares.
“Nightmares” seemingly translates directly into “Manual Labour” which isn’t too far off the mark. Of course, Sackboy can’t bear to see his friends being forced to do manual labour by a villain with no discernible motive other than general bad guy vibes, so he sets off to save the day, with the help of a knitted friend and guide; Scarlet, who conveniently exists to teach us the game.
Scarlet teaches us about the “Dreamer Orbs”; little capsules of imagination energy, powerful enough to overcome Vex’s nightmares if we can just collect enough of them. So, we have our motive, we have our goal, and we have two little woolly feet, so it’s time to go grab those Dreamer Orbs!
Along the way we meet an incredibly colourful cast of friends who all need our help in rescuing their home from Vex and his equally colourful cast of minions.
Everyone – except Sackboy – is voiced by a fantastic cast of British voice actors and the script contains plenty of british humour, which – as a brit myself – I am culturally obligated to find side-splittingly hilarious. No but really, it’s good, it’s all very charming and the characters are fantastically lovable.
Giving Mario a Run for His Money
The gameplay in Sackboy: A Big Adventure is very similar to what I remember it being in Little Big Planet. You’ll find various tools to help you get through some stages, but for the most part you’re just jumping, grabbing, and sliding your way through each stage.
The major difference – aside from the fact that they nixed the level-creator – is that they have also done away with the fixed side-scrolling nature of the stages and gone for a more dynamic experience, allowing for a full 3D platforming experience with a few side-scrolling portions and even some top-down stages.
This vastly opens up the possibilities, allowing them to implement more exciting visuals and gameplay elements. With this, the platforming mechanics have room to improve too, so the developers took that idea and developed a very technical system allowing the player to string together combos of rolls, jumps, “flutters”, and dives to reach greater distances and move faster.
With a complex system in place, the option is there for completionists and challenge-chasing players to really dig in and pull off some impressive feats. There are even some more challenging time trial stages called the Knitted Knight trials in which confident players can put their skills to the test against the clock.
Through these systems, Sackboy is approachable and likely completable for even children, but there’s capacity there to go a lot further, much like a Mario title.
I honestly think that this game tops Mario titles in a lot of ways. The movement and controls are snappy and clean, the visuals are more modern and exciting, the difficulty towards the end is more intense but there’s a very gradual buildup. It’s a fantastic title and I seriously hope that we see more Sackboy platformers in the future, it’s bound to be yet another hugely successful IP under the wing of PlayStation.
Of course, while the level editor is gone from this game, the creativity is not. Throughout each stage you’ll collect and earn cosmetic items with which you can customise your character. You’ll also earn “Collectabells”, the game’s currency, which you can use at Zom Zom’s shop to purchase full outfits or individual cosmetic items.
With various textures and colours available too, there are many ways to let your creativity loose in the game’s Wardrobe and make a Sackboy that suits you!
The Most Fun You Can Have Listening to Britney Spears
Another noteworthy feature of the game is the audio. The developers have put so much care and effort into the sound effects and the music – which all sound fantastic with the 3D Audio capabilities of the PS5 with the Pulse 3D headset.
Every sound effect is crisp and clear and helps you to time actions and prepare for hazards quickly as and when the need arises. With unique and easily identifiable sound effects for everything you might need to deal with, having the audio can really be a life-saver more times than you’d think.
The music in the game is all carefully selected to match the theme of the stage but is often actually a remix of popular catchy music, used in very appropriate ways, like a metal remix of the backing track from “House of Fun” by Madness being used in a crazy fairground stage, Madonna’s Material Girl being remixed for an underwater stage, or the many great Daft Punk Remixes. That’s not all there is, of course, the game still has a lot of original music which sounds incredible.
Surprisingly you’ll even find full licensed singles in the game, such as Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. The stages you’ll find tracks like these in are actually some of the best levels. Not only is the song used in a way that tells a story, but the whole level is timed to the audio, making for some fantastic on-rails fun.
I cannot express enough just how gorgeous this game is. The aesthetic, for a start, is endlessly charming. Everything from the foil sheets used to represent water, to the shag carpets used as grass is made from a repurposed real-world item. Large objects like fridges and washing machines are used as platforms for felt and card gauntlets.
Everything is so adorably small, made even more evident by the amazingly well-rendered depth of field macro effects. It’s so easy to get lost in this tiny world only to be reminded of its scale by a glimpse of a life-sized Camper Van through a crack in the wall, or the glancing realisation that the entire stage is built inside a garden shed.
Perhaps the greatest thing is that almost every prop in the game is modelled in such a way that you could probably make it yourself with a reasonable amount of skill and a trip to your local crafts store, you could probably build a whole sackboy stage in your living room.
Were I still a child I’d be in love with this fact. For children who love to buy the latest merchandise from their beloved game or TV series, to see a game where everything is made of items you can find in your own home is a dream. It also encourages craft and creativity which is great for any child to get into.
My Sackboy: A Big Adventure Trophy Experience
When I first loaded up Sackboy, it was with MrZhangetsu at my side, ready to take on the couch co-op experience with me. As a priority while we played, as he wouldn’t be here the entire time, we focused on the Multiplayer trophies we would need to get.
Sadly, this game does have a lot of multiplayer trophies, and anyone wanting to plat the game should take that into consideration. There are a good number of these you can get solo with little more than a second controller, but there are stages called “Teamwork” stages, which are incredibly difficult to complete alone so you’ll really want a friend with you for that.
At first, we also assumed we would need to do everything, so that is what we were doing. For the entirety of the first world, “Soaring Summit”, we played and replayed levels until we had achieved a gold rating, found all collectables, and completed the stage without dying.
As it turns out, this isn’t necessary, but there are trophies for completing a certain number of levels without dying and for earning gold ratings on 50 stages too, so I’m glad we took the time to get such a head-start on those.
By the time we reached the second world, MrZhangetsu had to leave and I was left to complete the rest of the game solo. The remaining multiplayer trophies – like completing the final boss fight in multiplayer – I ended up having to collect alone, and did so without too much trouble. Being the good friend I am, I also took the time to ensure I earned those trophies on both of our accounts.
I spent another couple of days playing through the story solo until I eventually reached the end of the game, unlocking a bonus area which I would need to complete at a later stage once I had more Dreamer Orbs.
By this time I had most, if not all of the miscellaneous trophies for killing enemies in certain ways and completing certain actions. So far, I hadn’t had to do anything too difficult and things were looking good!
I still needed orbs, costumes, currency, and more however, so I looked to replay some previously-completed stages and earn better scores and rewards.
During this phase of my journey, I played through pretty much every stage again, multiple times. I managed to get every gift and gold rating in the first three worlds of the game, but the rest were beginning to prove too difficult for me and I started to pick and choose which stages I thought I’d be able to complete.
I also took the time to ensure I collected all Knightly Energy cubes (more on that later), found all secret weapons, located all of Gerald’s “Secret Spots”, and grabbed every easily-reached cosmetic item I could for what would ultimately be the final trophy I earned.
This was by far the hardest part of my trophy journey. Throughout the game you can find items called “Knightly Energy” within a few select levels. These individually unlock 15 Knitted Knight Trials, which are high-speed races against the clock in some particularly tricky stages. The individual trials aren’t too hard once you hit them hard with enough practice runs. However, beating all 15 trials unlocks a 16th and final trial.
There is a trophy tied to this final trial called “String it Together” and it was the bane of my existence for about 10 hours. Spread over two days in stints of about 3 hours at a time, I played and replayed this trial until my thumb got bruised and blistered. The only thing that kept me going was knowing my annual leave would soon be up and I’d have to go back to work having not finished this insane trial.
Knowing I’d never find time in the day again to attempt this trial, I only stopped to sleep and then kept going at it again the very next morning.
I had to complete all 15 trials back-to-back in 10 minutes or less, but the hard part wasn’t the timer at all, it was actually reaching the end. I only reached the end once, and I did it in 8 minutes 27 seconds. Which at the time was 49th on the global leaderboards… Not bad if I do say so myself.
Words can’t describe how brutal this trial was and I think you should know what you’re in for if you decide to take on this game’s platinum trophy, so I’ve included the footage of my final run below:
I’m not exaggerating when I say my thumb was bruised from this. I had to build a desk the next day too, that was a struggle…
The Last Orbs & Outfits
With the majority of the game, the multiplayer trophies, and the Knitted Knight hell all wrapped up with a little bow, I looked to my trophy list to see what was left.
I still needed to complete the final stage in the bonus world, for which I needed 275 Dreamer Orbs. By this point, and after earning every possible Knitted Knight orb, I needed just 9 more orbs, which I collected from the other bonus stages and a couple of easier stages from earlier in the game.
The final bonus stage was a heart-warming medley of every other stage, complete with a medley soundtrack to really round off the experience. While it was certainly fun and I enjoyed the playable summary to my adventure, it was also quite a challenge. Nothing that I couldn’t handle after that Knitted Knight trial, though.
With that done, all that remained was to get a few more cosmetic items for the Walk-In Wardrobe trophy. 49 of them in-fact. This took me so long to do… I tried farming Collectabells, I replayed levels in the first 3 worlds until I had all possible outfits from every solo stage, I even replayed bos stages over and over for the mere 50 bells they would get me.
After several hours of working at this non-stop I’d finally whittled it down to 24 remaining items for the trophy. With MrZhangetsu no longer here to help me, I couldn’t play the two-player “Teamwork” stages to collect the items held in there, but I knew that if I could just complete them I’d be able to get about 3-4 cosmetic items per stage as well as a hefty pocketful of Collectabells.
So, I enlisted my girlfriend, who came to the rescue. She helped me to not only clear all of the Teamwork stages, but we got gold ratings and an enormous number of bells from doing so, allowing me to purchase the last few cosmetics from Zom Zom and finally earn the platinum trophy.
Hard Difficulty Playthrough
Novice Difficulty Playthrough
Sackboy: A Big Adventure Trophy Guide
Sackboy is an excellent candidate for being one of your first PlayStation 5 Platinum Trophies. With Gameplay similar to Astro’s Playroom, it’ll be simple to transition from one to the other! Consider using our Trophy Guide below to help you through:
That concludes my Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!
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