With Christmas and the holidays right around the corner, I recently took some time to check out an area of Sackboy: A Big Adventure that I wasn't able to dive into during my review. Back in November, I covered this new Sumo Digital title and spoke about its adorable art style and how completely unique it is to the Little Big Planet experiences we have become accustomed to, but I never tested multiplayer due to the online being unavailable at launch and myself lacking a second DualSense controller to try locally. Today however, I have the equipment, so I recruited a partner and we headed off into the wonderful realm of Craftworld.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure uses drop-in / drop-out local co-op, meaning you can add or take away players whenever you want. That could be in the middle of a level or in the overworld, it really doesn't matter and doing so is as simple as just connecting another DualSense and then pressing X. When you're all in the game, the next stage is teaching your co-op partner the intricacies, which for Sackboy basically means how to run, jump, smack and grab.
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On the surface, this game really is exceptionally well designed as a co-op title. Between the simple mechanics and smaller yet detailed levels that eliminate the need for split-screen, you can easily throw someone of pretty much all gaming knowledge into the game, and they will probably be just fine. The reason for that is how the gameplay itself as a co-op experience is tailored around teamwork and puzzle solving, you won't be expected to do some crazy platforming or thrust into overwhelming combat - that's pretty much the Sackboy promise.
Considering Sackboy is built to be played as a solo title, bringing an extra player to a lot of the main story levels won't add all that much depth to the game. Sure, working as a duo, or more, will make it easier in reaching certain areas or doing certain things (an extra pair of hands always helps), but the levels made for cooperative play are the gems that make Sackboy's multiplayer all the more exciting.
In these, you will be expected to work as a unit at pretty much all times. That might be to progress to the next zone, or simply to acquire the collectible Orbs, either way teamwork is necessary to complete these levels. You might be thinking, can I cheese the levels as a solo to get the trophies and 100% the game? In theory, yes, but compared to the level of challenge Sackboy usually offers, attempting to solo these levels with two controllers will prove nigh on impossible at times. You will need a helping hand.
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To accentuate the cooperative experience, Sackboy multiplayer brings some new mechanics to play around with. You can pick up other Sackboys to throw them to unreachable heights or even backhand other players, to launch them a few feet and effectively stun them. You might be thinking, what's the point of that feature? Well, considering the points you collect toward the score are not exactly shared, you will be fighting over the points to be able to show your worth in the endgame screen, and to be able to hold the trophy in the picture stage at the end of a level.
I will say though, the lack of shared cosmetics between local accounts is one area of the cooperative Sackboy experience I'm not a huge fan of. Guests will join the game with absolutely no customisation options, even though you might be completely decked out. Seriously, what's the harm with allowing an account that will lose its save data after being logged out to share in some of your cosmetics.
This issue actually doesn't translate to earning Collectabells, as whatever is claimed will be shared meaning you can look forward to splashing out at Zom Zom's shop, but new players will have to clock in some serious hours to tally up a decent bank of wearable costumes.
For what it's worth and looking at the cooperative experience as a whole, I strongly believe this is the optimal way to play Sackboy: A Big Adventure. This is a title that from the ground up is designed to be easy to understand and quickly adapted to, making it ideal as a local multiplayer game. Then, on top of that, the actual game design itself, being less intense can often leave a little to be desired when playing solo, but having the opportunity to explore the entire game in multiplayer completely nullifies that.
Obviously, with this game being a PlayStation exclusive, one that actually requires multiple DualSense controllers to be played in local co-op on PS5, it might be challenging to experience the multiplayer version right now in new-gen. While I have not tried Sackboy on PS4, the multiplayer should theoretically work just as well, but should you manage the impossible of wrangling a PS5 from the ghastly grips of the scalper armies, somehow with an extra DualSense, then you'll undoubtedly have a whole lot of fun with what Sumo Digital has pulled together in this delightful cooperative experience for the new era of gaming.
9 / 10
Co-op is clearly one the primary focusses for this game. Cooperative levels add a new style of challenge. The way Sackboys interact with one another is adorable.
Will require two DualSenses to experience it locally. Cosmetics are not shared with guest accounts and other accounts will need to earn everything they wear.