When looking at the PS5 launch lineup, Sackboy: A Big Adventure was not at the top of my hype list. Sure, it’s Sackboy, one of the most iconic PlayStation mascots since LittleBigPlanet’s release on PS3, but having been underwhelmed with the just okay LittleBigPlanet 3, seeing Sackboy’s smiling knitted face didn’t spark much excitement, especially up against the more obvious heavy hitters like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Demon’s Souls. Sackboy ended up being one of the best PS5 launch experiences, a creatively detailed adventure full of heart that embraces the magic of classic platformers while showing off the prowess of Sony’s new console.
There’s an unavoidable mental tax on how woven into the campaign levels LBPs “create” aspects are. Untethered from the “create” side of LittleBigPlanet, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is allowed the freedom to be more of its own game and less a huge tutorial or ramp for creating your own levels. LittleBigPlanet campaign levels, while exceptionally creative and cute, always felt limited by the fact that they were made by the same tools players would use in the create mode. Collecting things in LBP is just building up a library of stuff to use in creating your own levels, whether you actually do that or not.
Instead, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is in many ways akin to Tearaway. Sumo Digital took the property they had been handed by Media Molecule and asked themselves “what if we just made this a 3D platformer?” While that may seem to limit the nearly unlimited creative freedom present in the LittleBigPlanet series, it actually gives Sackboy a lot more leeway to have its own character and story without the looming “create” mode hovering over the whole experience.
Sackboy A Big Adventure Review – A Crafted World
Level by level, Sackboy: A Big Adventure offers an impressive amount of variety and detail, the crafted worlds looking especially stunning on the PS5. There were a number of times I just stopped and took in the creativity of the environments while appreciating the gamut of platforming mechanics and variety of things to do in each level. Sackboy never feels like you are just doing the same thing in a new environment, or even the same thing in the same environment. A random assortment of objects and materials that make up a level may be common household items, on closer examination. There are plenty of hidden details that players can easily miss, but they bring each environment to life in absolutely magical ways.
Mechanically, the new elements that persistently popped up regularly had me exclaiming out loud “Oh, that’s neat!” or something along those lines. There’s not really anything here at a base level that you haven’t experienced in other 3D platformers, but it’s all packaged together with such an incredible amount of heart and charm that I couldn’t help but grin ear to ear anytime I was playing it. Gadgets in certain levels will be familiar to LBP players and give even more creative mechanics throughout.
And that’s even before considering certain specific levels that are really something special. I don’t want to spoil them here, as they are best experienced with delight and surprise when you come upon them yourself, but if you’re a fan of music, these ones should really get you smiling and moving. These, erm, “groovy” levels alone are well worth the entire package, and yet they feel like a pleasant surprise and a great bonus when you reach them. Even beyond these musical treats, the entire Sackboy soundtrack is a standout affair; a melodic treat for the ears that wraps every single level in trappings of happiness, again, evoking smiles and verbal comments about its wonder throughout the entire playthrough.
Similarly, boss encounters are creative and a lot of fun, with tasks that are classic platforming boss mechanics, but somehow feel wholly fresh and new when presented in Sackboy. Every character in Sackboy comes to life in big ways, from the main heroes and villains down to the lowliest fodder you’ll be stomping on and thwapping with your knitted arms. The PS5 is a visual treat, letting you even see the fuzziness of the yarn that makes up Sackboy’s knitted body in fidelity I never thought I’d see the character in.
Sackboy A Big Adventure Review – A Tale For Two
It wouldn’t be a Sackboy (and Sackgirl) adventure without multiplayer, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure lets up to four Sackpeople play together. Right now multiplayer is couch co-op only, but online multiplayer will be added eventually. I’ve been playing through Sackboy with my wife—a nice throwback to playing through LBP early in our relationship. This time, however, we were able to more fully enjoy the game without the looming “create mode” trappings. Occasionally, frantic combat areas would result in accidentally slapping each other, sometimes leading to an untimely tumble into the void, but we were able to laugh most of these off.
To differentiate our characters (or even just allow a little bit of that creative customization), Sackboy’s collectibles are centered around costume pieces. You can make your Sackperson just about anything you want, and mixing-and-matching the various costume pieces makes for some fascinating and hilarious combinations, especially when seen in cutscenes. Every few levels, we’d head back to the costume shop to buy new pieces and reconfigure our wardrobes with new things we’d found in our adventure. Some of the more flowy costume pieces have physics glitches, like the lucha cape swirling in circles around my neck as I’d run. These were all visual in nature, never impacting gameplay, however.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure also has a few co-op specific levels that require at least two people to get through. This involves mechanics such as throwing the other person and usually required a bit of a shift in thought. Areas tended to seem impassable until we remembered that we were playing a co-op level (these are clearly marked on the world map, so you can accidentally stumble into them). The co-op levels only ever require two players, so you’ll never need to get a full team of four Sackpeople. As long as you can find one other person, you can make your way through these levels.
In terms of PS5 launch titles, Sackboy: A Big Adventure didn’t make headlines as a highly anticipated game, but it manages to be one of the most charming and fun PS5 games so far. Its heart was an unexpected delight, with a level of detail and polish that made it an absolute joy to play. Snipped free of the level creation side of LBP, Sackboy manages to swingamajig his way to platforming heights that the character never has before, in more detail than ever on PS5.
Sackboy A Big Adventure review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS5. For more information, please read our Review Policy.