A question fans have pondered is whether this title has the series’ famed creation mode, which lets players build their own levels and share them online. The answer, unfortunately, is no, but that doesn’t mean “Sackboy” is lacking.
“This is a whole new direction for Sackboy,” Sumo Digital design director Ned Waterhouse said. “Our decision was to focus on the gameplay experience to basically make the best co-op 3D platformer we could. For us, that meant great character controls, a really rich and highly interactive world, and loads of variety so that each each level feels unique.”
In “Sackboy: A Big Adventure,” you journey to different worlds like a jungle and outer space. As Sackboy, you must put a stop to the antagonist Vex, a “shapeshifting jester" who hopes to turn everything upside down — literally — with a machine called the topsy turver.
The game marks the series’ first foray into 3D, leaving behind its 2.5D (a 2D environment with depth and a restricted camera perspective) roots for a more open gameplay experience. Developer Sumo Digital says the shift was a “challenge," and it’s fundamentally different from what long-time fans would expect. But it allowed them to design levels that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
“We have exploration levels in the game where you have to search all the nooks and crannies of a level or an environment to uncover its secrets," he said.
Sackboy has a new move set, too: he can jump, roll, dive and “flutter jump,” which lets him run in mid-air briefly to reach far away platforms. He can also pick things up and throw them. In local and online co-op, which can be played with up to four players, you can pick your friends up and toss them around, as well as slap them, which brings a silly, “mischievous” feel that’s right at home in LittleBigPlanet.
As a PS5 title, “Sackboy: A Big Adventure” takes advantage of the system’s new tech and features, some of which we saw Sony’s UI reveal. This includes a hint menu, a checklist of achievements for completionists, and the ability to drop in and out of specific levels or areas instantly. The latter is made possible with the PS5′s ultra-fast SSD, which we’ve seen teased for games like “Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart” as well.
“I still can’t quite get over how a level loads on our game in a matter of seconds,” Waterhouse said.
Some features extend to the DualSense controller, particularly when it comes to haptic feedback. “Sackboy” takes place in a world with crafted materials, like yarn and other threaded objects. Different vibrations can be felt depending on what kind of flooring Sackboy is walking, jumping or running across.
"We ended up having arguments about, what does it feel like [for Sackboy] to jump on a balloon?” Waterhouse said.
For Waterhouse, it was important to create a LittleBigPlanet game that had “quirky characters” and “a bit of British sensibility," much like the rest of the franchise.
“I hope that what players will find is that this is very much a game with LittleBigPlanet in its DNA,” Waterhouse said. “And it’s very much true to the sensibilities of the franchise.”