One of the most interesting groups of fans is Sonic fans. There seem to be a couple different types of Sonic fans as well, each with their own preference of Sonic-style: 2D, 3D, like Sonic Adventure, like Sonic Colors, and etc. I don’t think SEGA will ever appease all Sonic fans due to this diversity, but their latest attempt is with Sonic Forces. After the overwhelming love that Sonic Mania received, could Sonic Forces mark two great Sonic games in one year?
Sonic Forces starts out like a lot of Sonic games do: with Dr. Eggman (ROBOTNIK DAMMIT!) up to his dastardly ways trying to rid the world of the blue blur. This time he has a new creation: Infinite. Infinite appears to be the match that Sonic cannot win, as Sonic gets in some trouble and a group of ragtag side characters (led by Knuckles) is formed. The group gets a new recruit: YOU.
You Wanna Go Fast?
That’s right. You create your own character to your liking, and join the Resistance and try to stop Eggman. There’s a variety of different types of characters to choose from, and playing through levels will unlock more things to add to your character. Personally, I didn’t customize my character as I got the NiGHTS skin pre-order bonus, but it’s a nice option for those who want to make a unique character.
Truth be told, I wasn’t really into the story at all. I don’t really play Sonic games for a deep narrative, and while the presentation and cutscenes, along with voice acting, were good, I never felt connected to the story or cared about it. Sonic Good. Eggman Bad. Let’s get to the game already.
Sonic Forces is quite possibly the strangest hybrid of past Sonic games that I have ever played when it comes to the gameplay. You can literally pinpoint gameplay characteristics from other Sonic games within the levels. Take some Sonic Adventure, add some Sonic Colors, mix in some Sonic Generations, a dash of Sonic and the Secret Rings, and top it off with 2D Sonics, and there you go. There are levels where you are literally running in a 3D environment, then you are hopping on rails, then you are doing quick time segments, then you are 2D. It’s jarring, it’s crazy, and it doesn’t flow all that great. However, it does keep you on your toes, and manages to keep things fresh as you don’t know what to expect. I like that about the game though. Sure it’s chaotic (Knuckles Chaotix?!) but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Some gamers will be turned off by the blending of different styles of games all into one and think it’s sloppy, but I think it has a certain charm. It’s not great, and sometimes the level design is a bit confusing, but overall it works decently.
Graphically speaking, the game looks solid. All of the characters look nice, and some of the set pieces are really well designed and interesting. There’s tons of stuff happening both on screen and in the background, and it flows pretty well. The game runs at a solid 30FPS, where the other versions run at 60FPS, but this wasn’t a huge deal to me.
One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the fact that most of the levels take place within a certain world and the game reuses the same assets over and over, just with a different perspective. For instance, Chemical Plant is a level you visit, and you visit it a few different times. Sometimes you are on a 2D plane, sometimes on a 3D, sometimes in a different part of the level altogether, but it all looks similar. With all of the Sonic lore to use, they could have done more in the variety department.
Sonic Forces isn’t a very hard game, with two difficulty modes: Normal and Hard. Hard is suggested for people who have played a Sonic, Normal for those who haven’t. Even on Hard, I rarely died or got stuck in a level, and the game is pretty short as well: I managed to run through it in under 8 hours, playing some of the bonus stages as well.
Sonic Forces isn’t the next Super Mario Odyssey that some Sonic fans wanted, but I don’t think it’s fair to think it was going to be. I think many got their expectations set too high, and when the game was announced at $39.99 brand new, I knew what to expect: an average, decent 3D Sonic game. And honestly, that’s what you are getting here. It’s not a great game, but it’s solid. It looks nice, plays smooth, and the gameplay variety is solid. It’s an average 3D Sonic game at a budget price, and that’s not really a bad thing.