Can Sonic Forces finally make up for his past mistakes?
I ended my Sonic Mania review asking “does that mean in order for Sonic to be good, it has to look like it was made on classic Sega consoles?”. The adventure games were considered the last ‘good’ Sonic games by many, but haven’t aged well, and as time went on we got titles like Sonic 06 and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, which have gone down as some of the worst games of all time. So when it was announced that a new game was being made, by the developers of Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors, I got excited. These 2 games weren’t breakout successes, but huge improvements over the other games – so I thought maybe, just MAYBE we were going to get a proper 3d Sonic game that could be seen as a true sequel to Sonic Adventure 2.
Gotta go fast! The focus on speed for Sonics levels make his the best part of the game
Sonic Forces takes from Generations and Colors, in that it’s a 3D/2D platforming mix, some parts of the levels are in 3D, some parts are like the classic 2D side scrolling games, and at certain parts you get boost sections that makes sonic go at great speeds avoiding enemies. It’s become the formula that works best for the Sonic game as its turned 3D, Making a combo a hitting springs, enemies and boosters gives a great flow to the game, and its extremely satisfying stringing them all together. Classic Sonic makes a return here, but all his levels are in 2D as they try to recreate the classic sonic feel without throwing in all the modern stuff that 3D sonic gets. Forces also added custom characters, so you can now make your own Sonic-esque character, which is integral to the story. Speaking of story, it’s the standard Eggman (or Robotnik, if you want to be old school) has found a new way to take over the world and it’s up to the ‘forces’ of the Sonic world to stop him. In terms of depth and dialogue, it’s pretty bad and is one of the blandest stories Sonics ever given us. The new bad guy Infinite is pretty interesting but has very little to say, and the best parts of the story is the dialogue with Eggman and Sonic. They’re portrayed as they’re meant to be, Sonic is full of cocky jokes at Eggmans expense while Eggman himself is egotistical yet a bit dim. I genuinely enjoyed the dialogue between the 2 but sadly there’s much of it as the story is so simple. Your custom character plays an important role as part of the “nothing beats the power of teamwork” message, but when it comes down to it, is only there for fan service. The custom character could be cut out the story entirely and it would make very little difference, this is also the same for classic Sonic too, they’re literally there for fan service.
The custom character adds very little to the game other than fan service
What makes this situation worse is that the Classic sonic levels are by far the worst. Modern Sonic plays as he should in a Sonic game, it’s fun to string together combos and fly through levels to feel fast, because Sonic is about going fast, so the gameplay is fun. But Classic Sonic controls stiff, the levels toned down, there’s less speed involved, you can’t string together attacks and I just didn’t want to play them. If I did want to play them, I’d play Sonic Mania instead. The custom characters levels are ok, but lack the boost ability that Modern Sonic has so it’s not about speed but more about standard platforming and attacking enemies. You do get a grapple hook that mimics Sonics homing attack, but lacks the same impact that the homing attack has. The custom character is a difficult one because I thought it was going to be crazy fun bringing your own character into the Sonic world, but it’s just sorta ok. the customization is pretty limited as you can’t make wacky characters or anything too far from what we’ve seen before. You can give them clothes and accessories but I still couldn’t make the Sonic world character I wanted to make, even with the challenge levels to unlock more clothes, it just wasn’t happening. I just made some standard Sonic world character and got on with it, I didn’t care for my character, and by end game, I questioned to why he was even there at all.
Classic Sonic levels are empty, boring, controls horribly, and not fun
Luckily classic Sonic and custom character levels didn’t seem as common as modern Sonics levels, the best levels of the game. I say ‘best’ but it’s the best of what we’re given. Looking back I can only remember a few levels within the game, and that’s because some are re-imagined classics … again. We’ve got Green Hill and Chemical Plant zone and we go back there a few times. The idea of the level does change, so instead of the actual chemical plant, you’ll be at the launch base part of it, which is a cool feature, but the general zone doesn’t change up much, it feels like you’re just doing the same level again. What I did notice with this game is how incredibly easy it was. On every single level I was getting an A/S rank, completing them in under 2-3 minutes, and in one case finished with over 400 rings. The lives system has also been removed too, so you can keep dying again and again without having to go back to the start. This obviously makes it easier for new comers, but wheres the challenge? I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a big Sonic fan, or if the game was so easy, but the game can be completed in about 4 hours, which I can’t decide if that’s a bad thing. There is a lot of replayability with the challenge levels and all the unlockables, but the levels aren’t so fun to replay so much because they’re just not that creative.
I guess that’s the final word on Sonic Forces, it’s not that creative. By no means is Sonic Forces a bad game, I actually really enjoyed it considering the problems. They’re not game breaking, nor do they make me angry or make me think “who put this in the game” but it’s a game that says to me that Sega are unsure what they want to do with the Sonic series these days. As I started this review, I went back into what I asked when I played Sonic Mania “does that mean in order for Sonic to be good, it has to look like it was made on classic Sega consoles? ” and this game sort of digs in this idea that Sonic won’t ever be good in 3D. I still think it’s possible, but it’s not Sonic Forces. Just like they did with Mania, they need to hire on people who played the classic Adventure games and see why people loved those and recreate that ‘Gotta go Fast’ sensation, a fleshed out Sonic experience, but that’s for another time.
Sonic Forces is a good entry into the Sonic franchise and is a generally enjoyable game that I had fun with, but it doesn’t push any boundaries and simply rests on it laurels in the Sonic world. I had fun as Modern Sonics levels make me wanna go fast and combo the badniks and springs, but less so with Classic Sonic and the customer characters. It’s an enjoyable Sonic game that shouldn’t be hated on, but doesn’t excite me in any way.