Sonic Forces was a title many fans were sceptical about.
The initial announcement promised a darker story and return to the acclaimed boost style of gameplay found in Sonic Unleashed/Colours/Generations and bizarrely the return of Classic Sonic from Generations, mere minutes after the announcement of Sonic Mania.
So Classic Sonic fans were getting their fill already, while Modern Sonic fans were having him jammed into this game for seemingly no reason. Later it was revealed that players could create their own avatar character to join Sonic and friends in the resistance against Dr Eggman’s tyrannical reign.
Scepticism and optimism surrounded the game from announcement to release. But now that it’s here, we can see that both parties’ arguments were warranted.
The story sees Eggman finally accomplish conquering the world. Teaming with new villain Infinite, they defeat Sonic and he is presumed dead…really. Six months pass and we see Sonic’s friends have set up a resistance to take back the world with a new rookie, your own created character, joining the fight.
The character creation tool is pretty decent and allows for quite a bit of variety in custom creations. It helps that you’re locking more options constantly.
Infinite is equipped with ‘The Phantom Ruby’ a magical gem that can seemingly do whatever the hell it wants, but is primarily used for distorting reality and creating clones of past villains in the series to occupy Eggman’s forces. Soon Sonic is found alive and re-joins the resistance in a last-ditch effort to save the world.
You may have noticed no mention of Classic Sonic in the synopsis there, that’s because he has no bearing on the story in any way, shape or form. His inclusion comes off as nothing more than a selling point and nostalgia bait for old fans to buy the game.
Otherwise the story is just fine. There’s very good characterisation but it would’ve benefited from more emotional moments and maybe a dialogue tree for your avatar to actually take part in the events aside from everyone just saying how cool you are.
The story is total Sonic fanfiction. The world’s in danger from all the old villains coming back with an edgy new leader and all of Sonic’s friends are there to tell your character how cool and awesome he is. When the world needs saving, only…eh…Paul…the…Rabbit…can save it?
The promise of old villains returning is pulled out from under itself early on. Trailers promised the return of Metal Sonic, Chaos from Sonic Adventure, an evil Shadow the Hedgehog and Zavok from Sonic Lost World.
Revealed in game to be illusions created by Infinite, it was good way of reintegrating them without further explanation. But they all leave the story pretty much instantly, Chaos is booped on the head in a cutscene less than an hour in and then that’s it he’s gone, you never fight him.
It’s the same with Shadow. Advertising two of the series most popular villains from two of the most popular games and then to just toss them aside so early is borderline false advertising and just deceptive. Sadly, there’s no real standouts in the story and it comes off as average with more disappointments than high marks.
The highlights are the character interactions which is a shame given the story was the most marketed aspect of the game with some solid promise backing it.
The gameplay of Forces is fairly simple. As Modern Sonic you run and boost your way through hordes of enemies in a mix of 2D and 3D, with the lack of a drifting mechanic strangely, it’s a weird thing to remove.
The avatar is essentially Sonic but without the boost, instead given 1 of 5 weapons ranging from a flamethrower to an electric whip, each with a secondary power like teleportation or creating platforms.
And last and certainly least, Classic Sonic is 2D side-scrolling action that falls so hard on itself it’s embarrassing. Controlling him is a chore, he has no flow or semblance of momentum, feels absurdly heavy and everything from jumping to running down a slope slows him down.
Yes, running downhill makes him slower. Coming off Sonic Mania, this is unacceptable. A game made by fans that has a better understanding of how Classic Sonic should feel than the very studio that created him. Even compared to Sonic Generations he has less movement options and moves. He is the worst part of the game in every conceivable aspect if you haven’t guessed.
The main problem with the gameplay is how brief the levels are. Lasting just over a minute they end before they truly begin. Just when things pick up and you’re getting into it, the level abruptly ends. They’re unsatisfying and not engaging enough to replay.
Not every level is bad but on average mediocre at best. The control in 3D sections it works fine and feels nice, but in 2D sections Sonic and the avatar go from zero to the speed of sound on a dime making the most basic of platforming a frustrating task.
Presentation is great with crisp appealing graphics that really make the set pieces’ pop. Music is at a high standard for Sonic and Forces tries some unfamiliar genres for the series like dubstep and synth and it works well. Not the best in the series but still good. That is except for Classic Sonic’s which sound ungodly cheap with limited chip tunes and given the bar set for the series it’s atrocious.
In the end, Sonic Forces is fine. It’s an average game that has its high points but also its meh aspects. It has a lot of great ideas and concepts but fails to flesh out and build on them. T
he negatives won’t make you stop playing, but the positives aren’t good enough to save it from being anything than above average at best. It has some replay value but none of it is too satisfying.
It’s a game you’ll play, have a good enough time playing, but probably won’t be too compelled to revisit. You’re better off playing Sonic Mania.