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Knack to feature an asymmetrical co-op mode

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Knack will feature an asymmetrical local co-op mode that allows a second player to assist a friend as they progress through the game's campaign, it was announced today at Gamescom 2013.

During a demo led by the game's creator and PS4 hardware designer Mark Cerney, the local co-op functionality was briefly shown off. A second player can jump into the game at any time and control "robo-Knack," a smaller, less powerful version of the game's makeshift main character. Robo-Knack lacks some of the abilities of his counterpart, and isn't available in some scenes where Knack has become so big that he takes up most of the screen.

Robo-Knack is there to fill an "assistant role," according to Cerney, designed for a parent to assist their seven-year-old who is struggling through a more difficult part of the game. He can engage enemies in combat, collect items scattered across the map, and can even give his health — in the form of accumulated pieces of relics that make up Knack's physical form to the first player in a pinch.

That help may be necessary, as the levels demoed during today's presentation actually looked pretty challenging. When Knack is small, enemies can take him out in just a couple hits. If players don't dodge attacks (using the right stick, in a God of War-esque fashion), and collect parts to bulk Knack up regularly, they'll get kicked back to the last checkpoint quite often.

Of course, there's three difficulty settings designed to make the game accessible for all audiences — difficulty settings that don't only affect combat, but platforming as well. Our demo took us through a mining facility filled with dangerous pistons that, in Easy mode, move slowly enough to help inexperienced players pass. On hard, the platforming will resemble something a bit closer to Crash Bandicoot's more demanding levels.

Knack will have several other ways of powering up beyond the game's trademark, flotsam and jetsam absorption mechanic. Nosy players will be able to find 60 hidden treasure rooms throughout the game, which generate randomized pieces of gadgets that, when combined, give Knack additional perks. The trick is that the treasures are randomized, meaning you might not always get the gadget piece you need to complete that one tool you need.

Helping you in this pursuit is a clever social mechanic: when you find a treasure, a list of all your PSN friends who have found that same treasure appears. You can peruse the list, seeing what all your friends found in the same chest, and if you see a treasure you'd rather have, you can take it instead of your randomly generated loot.

Knack will launch alongside the PlayStation 4 in North America on Nov, 15.