Sackboy finally has a game that calls himself. LittleBigPlanet’s smiley mascots, and sometimes the PlayStation brand, have always been treated as icons rather than characters. This is a cute tabula rasa that can do everything related to video games. Sackboy: In A Big Adventure, his range is much more traditional. He’s a Jumpman, a traditional platformer for Mario, Sonic, Crash, and all the other mascots that came before him. Both the character and the game, Sackboy stands up to take over the mascot platformer’s cloak in many ways. Its aesthetic often feels bland, but its solid platform poses a valuable challenge.
Like many platformers, the story isn’t Sackboy’s strong suit. You’re flying around Craftverse, the world of LittleBigPlanet, saving it from a malicious clown doll called Vex. You get a fairly stable stream of updates that reminds you of Vex’s evil presence, but you don’t need to know much. The story is a waste of Sackboy’s amazingly fascinating cuteness. Sackboy’s cuteness, on the other hand, can be argued to maintain an interest in the game without a compelling story.
Sackboy regularly evokes the visual aesthetics of LittleBigPlanet’s arts and crafts. Sometimes the motif works well. Many levels have visual details such as animal cutouts in the background and platforms made from piles of books. This means that the level was installed in the child’s bedroom. But in many cases it leads to a general “imaginary world” design. Most of the enemies are colorful animals and blocks with cute but angry eyes. And even with those clever details, all the basic level settings (space, jungle, underwater) feel vague.
The visual design is generally uninspired, but the art itself shows off the impressive technical capabilities of the PlayStation 5. A bright and colorful level full of rotating platforms, lasers, and moving parts of all kinds creates a visual feast in 4K. The gracefully weaving of the camera is very smooth. The ruby’s armored crab-like laser and metal surface are shining. It may not give Craftworld a strong sense of place, but art looks adorable.
It also helps the game have a great soundtrack to keep you moving. The catchy and bright tracks at each level feel good for jumping. Some of them feature riffs based on pop hits and classic scores that you may recognize. I rarely stop and listen to game music, but I’ve always wanted to include these tracks because they’re songs I’ve recognized or just bounced my head.
The platform, which is Sackboy’s core competence, is extremely powerful. Every movement of Sackboy’s core arsenal (secondary flutter, punch, jump with roll) feels responsive and accurate. Similar to LittleBigPlanet games, Sackboy’s jumps pop up a bit when you press the button all the way down, but the flutter feature gives you more control over when and how you land. Despite the appearance of the storybook, Sackboy has a sequence that presents some important challenges, especially if you’re trying to collect all the items along the way. However, the levels are built around Sackboy’s specific jumps, and the game’s requirements are based on that.
But the multifaceted level of Sackboy is a real star. Every part of each level offers new challenges and feels like keeping things fresh. Some areas are simple and encourage you to stitch the jumps together as if you were running an obstacle course. Other areas are more self-contained. At some levels, you need to search a wider area for hidden key sets to proceed. Some are built around items found at the beginning of each level, such as boomerangs that can attack enemies and collect items from a distance, and anti-gravity boots that can float for long periods of time at jump height. Temporal. There is incredible variety within and from level to level.
However, not all concept levels work. Each world has its own musical level, and every element of the world, including enemies, platforms, and background objects, moves with pop songs and lyrics like “Uptown Funk” being played. This is an interesting concept, but it’s ultimately jarring. Tracking could be difficult as elements of different levels move with different parts of the song. There is a moment of recognition at the beginning of each level, which is pretty neat, but it quickly disappears. After all, the lyrics are distracting and it can be difficult to keep track of everything that’s happening. Obviously, this is in stark contrast to the impressive standard soundtrack with or without pop connections.
Sackboy is a hoarding platformer. All levels are packed with things to pick up. Score bubble, LittleBigPlanet holdover. Collectibel used to buy costumes between levels. Dreamer Orbs that need to be collected to unlock the final level of each world. And costume parts. Always get items, scrutinize the levels and look for more items, limiting each level. To find everything, you need to be aware of alternative paths, extra space, and hidden rooms that house self-contained mini-games and puzzles. At the end of each level, trophies will be awarded based on the number of score bubbles earned. (Take a picture of a sackboy with a trophy. It’s cute.) Technically you can complete a level in just a little bit, but try to find most, if not all, levels. Is expected.
And lowering your score is the main form of punishment. Each level starts with 5 lives. Life is lost by being attacked by enemies or falling into the pits. If you lose life, you lose a percentage of the score bubble and it becomes difficult to get a high score. When you lose all your life, you have to start over from the beginning. The limited number of lives is rarely a problem. Even if you die often, the moment you lose an enemy or fragile item, extra life will start to spawn frequently. The real impact is how it affects your score.
Therefore, the goal is to master each level, complete it with the highest score possible, collect all the important items and achieve them without losing your life. At first it looks pretty achievable, but by the middle of the game, Sackboy has stood up to offer a pretty important challenge, even without score tracking. Mastering most levels requires a few trials and there is always room for improvement. That said, the game kindly avoids penalizing uncompetitive completionists. Besides the score bubble, when you get an item, you can get it forever. Even dreamer orbs and costume pieces earned before dying at the intermediate level are counted as earned.
In addition to the standard level, you can unlock the short but very challenging time trial level to emphasize all movements. Even these levels have hunting components that can be collected. Most levels have clocks that save a few seconds. These short and accurate challenges are very different from the long and winding campaign levels and give you the opportunity to confuse things when you start to feel that the standard flow is out of date.
There is also a teamwork level with optional cooperation only. It features a puzzle that requires some adjustment. (For full disclosure: I’m quarantining solos, so I played only one of these to understand how they work. Say this: Puzzle is Having two controllers at once makes it more tricky. You can also play Core Sackboy Campaign Multiplayer via Local Co-op with up to 4 players. Everyone plays as a sackboy, but the costumes are different so you can take advantage of that wardrobe. According to, Cross Generation Online Multiplayer will be available later this year. Personally, I like playing platformers solo, so I didn’t think the lack of access to co-operatives was a real loss.
Sackboy is a solid platformer, taking full advantage of the PS5’s enhanced visual and technical performance despite its Rohto art style. It’s a fun little chatter on the platformer, with lots of interesting moments. Sometimes the visual design looks a bit flat. However, even at such moments, tight controls and interesting level layouts create gameplay challenges that make it easy to miss these flaws.