Sonic Forces is the latest main entry into the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, which promises to take Sonic Generations game play ideas, add a custom character and an actual storyline. You’ve probably have heard mix opinions on Sonic Forces, so let me tell you what my honest opinion on the game is. Welcome to SEGAbits’ review for Sonic Forces on the PlayStation 4!
Sonic Forces’ biggest draw for fans was its ‘what if…concept, which generally attracted my attention when SEGA finally revealed the game’s story. I liked the idea that SEGA was having a story where Eggman already took over the world, it seemed to have a lot of interesting possibilities . It was also exciting to see returning enemies like Chaos, Zavok and even Shadow the Hedgehog
Sadly, while the ideas laid out by Sonic Team where great on paper, their inability to write proper dialogue or even understand proper story structure makes the game’s story rather disappointing. I think the problem with the game is that it doesn’t have a focus, one sentence the game talks about Sonic being tortured and then a few lines later reverts back to talking like a light-hearted kids game.
It feels like the game was written to be darker in tone and was changed during development to inline more with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations’ tone. While SEGA really hyped up the return of Shadow, Zavok, Chaos, and Metal Sonic in promotional material, the game’s story really didn’t incorporate them well. Chaos, who had fans the most excited isn’t shown for more than a few seconds and doesn’t even have a boss fight. A very big let down.
I think the biggest issue with the story though is that it isn’t written well at all, it really pushes you forward as fast as possible and never lets anything build or grow. While I know Sonic fans will complain that Sonic Team isn’t really known for writing great stories, you’d think they would hire a competent person that understands basic character arcs and plot structure.
At the start of the story you are thrusted into the middle of this ‘chaotic war’ and working to take land back away from Eggman. The games new villain, Infinite, was written as badly as I feared he would be.The character literally has no growth as a villain, doesn’t do much outside of spouting edgy dialogue. It’s a real shame because it’s been a long time since Sonic Team has written a really good villain. It makes sense why they continue to stick with Dr. Eggman, an established and well-liked character. While promotional material hyped up Infinite as the big bad guy here, it comes off more as Eggman’s lacky.
While the game’s story concept intrigued me, I was way more interested in playing the game considering that I thought Sonic Generations was a big step in the right direction for the franchise. This time you not only play as Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic, but also a new custom character. Sadly the level design and controls in this game have regressed since Sonic Generations, especially for Classic Sonic. The controls just don’t feel precise and the physics just seem to get wonky at the weirdest times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people that expected Classic Sonic in this game to play like the SEGA Genesis games, but what Sonic Team delivered here is worse than what they tried in Sonic Generations. The game still doesn’t feature momentum, it actively slows you down if you try to gather speed. Classic Sonic in this game really does feel rushed, not just his contribution to the whole story but how he feels to control and play with. As far as in-game levels, all of them are more on the short side and offer pretty safe level design. Though Sonic Team did equip Classic Sonic with new drop dash feature from Sonic Mania, which is a nice.
Then we have Modern Sonic which brings back the boost gameplay that originated with Sonic Unleashed back in 2008. The game really does work better with Modern Sonic if the levels are designed correctly. My issue with Modern Sonic’s gameplay in Sonic Forces is that it feels like they took level design sections fromSonic Colors and Sonic Generations, but executed them poorly. Sonic Forces doesn’t try anything new with Modern Sonic’s gameplay. While Modern Sonic did have a few levels that I thought were really well done, it seems that most of levels usually range from OK to a few being really poorly designed, especially coming close to the end. I think that after having three Modern Sonic games with boost gameplay, that Sonic Team has tried everything that can work with Sonic’s boost gameplay. If you think about it, racing fast down a stage does limit what can be done in terms of level design. Its like they knew about this issue and that’s why we got something like Sonic Lost World. The other reason why these levels leave you feeling underwhelmed is because of how short they are, a good number of them should be rather easy to beat in just a little over a minute.
SEGA also offered Episode Shadow as a free download. This prequel story reveals just how Infinite came to be. Obviously Shadow the Hedgehog is basically a skinned modern Sonic the Hedgehog, which quite frankly is alright with me. The prequel story is only three stages long, so under 15 minutes of actual gameplay and story. Yeah, short! But after you beat the DLC you get the ability to play any Modern Sonic stage as Shadow the Hedgehog.
The last main character you get to play as is you, as in a character you create! Going to be honest, I started playing the game thinking I was going to despise the avatar and it ended up being my favorite thing about Sonic Forces. I like the create your avatar system, which gave me a flashbacks to Phantasy Star Online! I also liked the fact that each species has his own advantages, so its cool to have the option to use different species when I want. The game really does a good job rewarding you with new shirts, shoes, head gear and other costume goodies for completing stages and missions. Not only that, Sonic Team is really generous with the amount of items they give out as well. It really does seem that Sonic Team focused most of its energy on the avatar, at least in terms of unlockables content because the Sonic bros didin’t get any love when it comes to customization. The level design in the avatar feels very basic and safe like the rest of the game. The avatar solo stages benefit from having weapons and avatar powers to play around with as you figure out how to traverse the stage in the fastest possible time.
Sonic Forces also uses its safe formula on boss fights as well. You either fight a boss in a 2D stage where they hover in the background trying to hit you with projectiles, until they let their guard down and you can attack them. The other boss fight is quite the same but instead its Modern Sonic camera angle as you run through a single lane trying to catch up to the boss. As you run towards him he’ll throw obstacles your way, if you dodge them all you will get a boost that allows you to catch up and attack. These aren’t bad ideas, it’s just that Sonic Team already done these type of boss fights to death.I wish they would have thought up some variety.
Graphically the game is sharp and bright, while it isn’t pushing gaming consoles to the edge, it does run at a solid frame rate which for Sonic Team is a feat on its own. While I think the graphics and performance are the most impressive thing that Sonic Forces offers, it also has a drawback since backgrounds don’t have much going on compared to past games. As for the game’s art style, it has moments where it looks really good and other moments where some levels get way too dark. Its pretty inconsistent.
Sonic Forces is a game with good intentions that got handled completely wrong. Somehow Sonic Team has regressed as a developer by delivering Sonic gameplay that is worse than its Generations counterpart. Not only does the game feature short levels, its a short game in general taking a regular user a little over 3 hours to complete the main story. Sure, it has extra content that will extend the gameplay but that doesn’t change the fact that its the shortest Modern Sonic game in a very long time. I wouldn’t have minded if the whole thing was a well polished and a well designed package, but that isn’t what we got here. The game does have some pretty good secret and extra stages to unlock that feature slower 2D platforming and plenty of avatar customizable gear to unlock. So its not all bad.
Sonic Forces is just an OK game. It really feels like the game just wasn’t all the way completed, especially considering that SEGA held review copies back so they can deliver a day one patch. Even after that patch its still has a ton of issues, especially when you get further towards the end of the game. I hope that wherever the next main Sonic game takes us, that they deliver a polished product at the very least.
- Good graphics
- Solid framerate
- Avatar actually fun
- Lots of gear unlockables
- Story goes nowhere
- Level design
- Short game
- Step back in quality