Sonic Mania was a beacon of hope for Sonic fans, a sign that perhaps Sonic was back on track. Sonic Forces takes a big ol step back in the wrong direction, with what is sure to be a short lived disappointment to any whom make the mistake of having high hopes for the title. It is a frustrating experience, full of inconsistent level designs, at times horrible design choices, very short lived levels, (culminating in a very short story), and over use of cutscenes and cinematic transitions, all overshadowing the occasional enjoyable moments Sonic Forces actually has to offer.

The game’s story is as basic as a Sonic story needs to be, Dr Eggman wants world domination (surprise) and brings with him a new generic, albeit kinda bad ass villain; Infinite. Sonic and the gang must unite to stop him, aided by their newest member, the ‘rookie’, your ‘unique’ customized Sonic character. A nice simple story needs little storytelling, yet the game insists on making you sit through far too many cutscenes, which are not only poorly rendered, but plain and simple boring. Nothing overly interesting or impactful ever occurs, and even the attempted humor barely warrants the odd snicker. The younger ones may get a kick out of these scenes, but those of us that grew up with Sonic surely make up a decent part of the fan base, and should definitely be taken into consideration…

Even such a large ensemble can’t truly save Sonic…

While the custom character sure sounds like an appealing feature, don’t get too excited. One thing is guaranteed… Your character will look ridiculous… Whilst I appreciate the feature, I wish it wasn’t so limited. It feels like a shoehorned feature, not fully fleshed out, more for nostalgia sake than anything… The way your custom character plays is at first interesting, but for the most part less fun to play as than Sonic, with their unique ability and weapons often slowing you down and proving more tiresome than anything. Throughout the 3 or so hour story you will often switch between classic Sonic, modern Sonic, and your custom character, and the enjoy-ability of the game decreases in the same order…

I found classic Sonic the most fun, due to his level design. Sticking with the tried and true pure 2D perspective, his levels play fairly well, though rather generic in design and appearance. The levels designed for the other two playable characters are more reminiscent of recent sonic games, flicking between 2D and 3D on the go. I’ve personally never been a fan of the 3D aspects, and this game really drove that point home. There can be an exhilarating sense of speed obtained from these segments, as you smash through minions and speed your way through massive landscapes, however the horrible level designs prevent them from reaching their potential. Ignoring the cluttered visual mess, that makes keeping track of the action (and your character) difficult, the backdrops admittedly often look stunning. The manner in which the levels are constructed however is purely frustrating, not helped by clunky controls and game mechanics that result in an at times difficult to control avatar, and one that will often not quite respond as intended. For a game built around speed, the game seems to relish making you go slow. Miscommunicating turns, hazards, obstacles, ramps, etc result in many seemingly unfair deaths, which admittedly you overcome with a bit of trial and error, but the poor mechanics will still result in botched double jumps, or continual speed. The inconsistent level design and unreliable controls cost me faaaaar to many unintentional deaths in what I found to be otherwise easy levels. The last fault worth mentioning is the overall length of each level, a successful run clocking in at averages of 2-3mins, often coming to a grinding halt just as they start ‘picking up’, which is extra frustrating given how much time between missions will be spent sifting through reward screens and cutscenes…

The game did get a few things right. While the cinematic transitions were a bit too regular, and took you out of the game, tasking you as an observer rather than participant, the big action set pieces at least acted as simplistic quick time events, and these encounters proved some of the more memorable moments. The game also features some decent boss fights, primarily against the newly introduced villain, Infinite, which brings with him some interesting arena mechanics and some slick visuals. The game also features a pretty awesome soundtrack, which particularly shines during boss fights, and during classic Sonic levels.

Sonic Force’s villain; Infinite, probably the best thing to come from the game.

A mediocre platformed at best, Sonic Forces ultimately disappoints at nearly every turn. It is a shame it was released so soon after Sonic Mania, as it has denied Sonic his time in the spotlight, instead re-enforcing the longstanding stereotype of average Sonic Games. Perhaps the polar differences in reviews and player reactions between Sonic’s two most recent outings will finally get a message through to the Sonic Team on what fans truly want out of the franchise. Until then, I recommend sticking to Mania, reserving Sonic Forces for only the die hard fans, and perhaps a younger generation less critical than the more seasoned players.

Sonic Forces was reviewed on Xbox One, however is also available on Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch

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4.9

Pros

  • Great Soundtrack
  • Interesting Boss Fights
  • Visually Interesting Backdrops

Cons

  • Inconsistant Level Design
  • Poor Design Choices
  • Unreliable Control Mechanics
  • Short-lived Levels/Very short Story
  • Uninteresting Story

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