Sonic Forces Review
You haven’t seen the last of the Eggman Empire! And this time, Doctor Robotnik has come up with a plan that nobody could have seen coming. The fate of Mobius and all the inhabitants are hanging from a string. It’s up to you now to help the Resistance stop Eggman’s latest and most fearsome creation. Join the uprising!
Sonic Forces is the new platform video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega, released for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on the 7th of November 2017. Sonic Forces was in development since 2013, and was first mentioned at the Tokyo Joypolis Sonic 25th party on 25 June 2016 under the name “Project Sonic 2017”. The idea for this game was to bring back a modern 3D Sonic, made by Sonic Team themselves, who hadn’t done so in a while. Maybe this is where they went wrong with most of the previous titles, as this installment makes the others look like knockoffs. The goal was to give players the experience of our well-loved 3D Sonic games, while bringing back old fan-favourite characters and giving us as much content as possible, even including a mixture of 2D and 3D Platforming experiences. One of the newest additions to the gameplay is the ability to create and customise your own Sonic character. The “Avatar” system was introduced brilliantly alongside this story. The game serves as a continuation of Sonic’s 25th Anniversary.
The story kicks off with our spiky blue hero in the Green Hills zone, being called by Tails to come save the City from Doctor Eggman’s latest large-scale invasion. Upon arrival, Sonic discovers that Eggman has recruited Shadow, Metal Sonic, Chaos, Zavok an a mysteriously newcomer called Infinite to assist in the attack. Sonic then finds that Infinite is too powerful to take on, though Tails suspected something to be amiss, so much so that Tails attempted to get a proper reading on Infinite with his scanner, but failed, which leads to Sonic’s defeat and suspected demise. I was in shock seeing all the characters mourning for Sonic, wondering if Team Sonic really had killed off our blue hero, and if so, what the plan was going to be to bring him back. A few months later, it is here that you create your Avatar, with 99% of the world in Eggman’s control, to join the Resistance being led by Knuckles. You then get contacted by Rouge, who managed to gather intel that Sonic was indeed still alive, but being held captive and tortured by Eggman. His plan was to rub Sonic’s nose into his failure for preventing Eggman’s Empire from being established all over the world, and then plans on ejecting Sonic into space. The Resistance, along with your help, launches an offensive to the rebuilt Death Sta… I mean… Death Egg in space. Meanwhile, Tails, who had separated himself from everybody in his grief, manages to meet up with the Classic Sonic, who exits the portal he was sucked into at the end of Sonic Mania. Here is where the games tie-in, bringing the classic Sonic levels into the fold.
Tails launches his own plan against Eggman with Classic Sonic, gathering intel of their own. Eventually Tails discovers that Sonic is alive, meets up with the Resistance group thanks to your Avatar, and works together with the Classic Sonic to save the world! Your Avatar even develops a friendship with Sonic, teaming up with him during certain missions, making for quite an unstoppable duo. The introduction of this new villain was done well, making him totally unique to the others in personality and abilities. Infinite, as he likes to be called, is an enigmatic and lethally dark figure, getting his power from a new type of gemstone called the Phantom Ruby, which is able to manipulate and control the reality that you perceive. He is sadistic and cruel, but if you play the Prologue story, Episode Shadow, which is a free DLC for the game, you see Infinite’s origins, seeing that he wasn’t always evil. The comics will give you even more background into Infinite, where you will see how he comes to meet Eggman, and that they realise they had mutual interests, but in this game, he’s truly evil, even taking pleasure in the torment of others, allowing your Avatar to run away unharmed (before joining the Resistance), merely to relish in the fear your Avatar was filled with. Naturally, you get payback for this, during one of the boss fights, you play as your Avatar, taking on Infinite and doing a fair bit of damage, though not at all enough to defeat Infinite. During Infinite’s introduction and origin in Episode Shadow, I feel like something might have gotten lost in the English dubbing. Infinite, (before he was renamed to Infinite) goes a little crazy, but fans are seeing this as him having a temper-tantrum. Maybe if we got to see more of him before the game to get to know his personality, we might have been able to understand the shift of his character.
Countdown to Destruction
I didn’t have much hope going into this Sonic game, in all honesty. When the Character Customisation screen popped up, I was even more skeptical about whether or not this was going to make a good addition to the game, and I was so pleasantly surprised at how well it ended up complementing the gameplay. I ended up wanting to play as my Avatar a lot more than I wanted to play as Sonic or Classic Sonic (especially Classic Sonic…). I can understand that there are fans who enjoyed being able to play as Classic Sonic again, but it made no real sense to me apart from the tie-in to Sonic Mania. The Classic Sonic stages annoyed me the most and often had me exasperated. They felt like an intrusion to the new direction that the game was going, and it almost felt like Team Sonic were trying find anything for him to do to make him relevant in the game. Tails also almost seemed more infatuated with Classic Sonic than with his dimension’s true Sonic. Despite all this, I truly enjoyed the story and the design of the levels, even though the Classic Sonic stages were frustrating, I cannot fault them for being well crafted. I ended up wanting to play “just one more level” after every successfully completed stage. I was so enthralled that I didn’t accept any other grade below “S”, and so I set about my way to completing every stage in S-Rank. Just ensure that you don’t lose your rings, die, and get the fastest time you can possibly manage, and you’ll manage to get that top grade as well.
There are 30 Main Story stages in the game. This may not sound like a lot, but the replayability for every level is incredible. If the satisfaction of being able to complete a level with increasing skill and speed doesn’t bring you back for more, the music sure will. Every stage has its own soundtrack that plays, making every level “feel” like a new experience. Every level has its own challenges and goals, aside from reaching the end as quickly as possible. The story that plays out during each level is so enjoyable, making it feel like your actions truly are impacting the “mission”. Every time you complete a stage, you get rewarded with gear that you use to customise the appearance of your Avatar, and you get even more if you finish the Stages under a certain time, and finish them with an S-Rank result. The score you accumulated then gets turned into XP for your Avatar, earning you medals along the way. Completing Daily missions will increase the XP multiplier as well! Though the multipliers only take effect after midnight. A little odd, if you ask me. If you get a certain amount of medals, you get an Honor medal, which will result in more rewards for your Avatars, which also includes better weapons. Since your Avatar doesn’t have special abilities like Sonic or Knuckles and co., you make use of a weapon called a Wispon, of which there are different types. You get started with a Burst-type Wispon, which fires flames to burn the enemy robots to a crisp! Later on you get more types of Wispons, aside from Burst, which includes:
The Wispons you get will also have the possibility of having certain perks, such as more speed the more rings you collect, or a shield in the beginning of the stage until you get hit, additional rings for every 100 collected or every time you reach a checkpoint. Every Wispon is powered by “Wisps” that are encountered in every stage. Whenever you gain a “Wisp”, it will grant you a special ability corresponding to the Wispon, eg. Void-types allow you to teleport to the furthest extreme (the nearest wall), and Lightning-types allow you to use a string of enemies or rings as a method of speedy transport. A lot of these Wispons help greatly in ensuring you get the best time you are capable of in each level, some being more useful in other levels. If you are playing on Hard-mode, which is recommended for people who have played Sonic games, you will be able to submit your time to the Global Leaderboard and see how you stack up against other players. Your time will not be uploaded on Normal mode. I am curious what the time-delay is between uploads, because I beat my fastest time on numerous occasions, with the game saving it as my best time, but not having uploaded the new time to the Leaderboards yet, until I had finished playing a different stage.
Upon completion of the game, you are able to create more Avatars, giving you the opportunity to play as the other “races”. I chose the Wolf first, for their racial ability of attracting items and rings towards them. I think this gave a boost to the Score, allowing me to narrowly make an S-rank. You also gain the option to “Rent-An-Avatar” on Avatar levels, where you can make use of another player’s Avatar during stages. I do not see the point of this, however, aside from single use to be able to gain the trophy/achievement. Later on, you will need to take on “S.O.S. Missions” where you will get an S.O.S. signal coming from one of the previous stages you have already completed. In order to finish these stages, you need to either finish the level playing as the Avatar requesting assistance, or free the Avatar alongside other animals inside a prison-like capsule, much like in the earlier Classic Sonic games, by jumping on a yellow button on the top. These S.O.S. missions will also yield rewards through the Missions screen, giving more customisation options or better Wispons.
Every stage also has five red rings that need to be collected. Fortunately, you don’t have to collect the entire set in one go. If you only find the first two, the stage saves that progress, and allows you to collect the other three when you revisit the stage later on. After collecting all the red rings in the stage, you need to collect number rings. These need to be collected in one go, and in descending order. The silver moon rings are available after successfully collecting the number rings. The moon rings have a time limit when you collect the first of the five, but they are situated close to each other, so there is no need to search for the next couple after the first one. You just need to make sure you collect the rings as fast as possible. There are also Secret Stages that get unlocked as the story progresses, upon successfully recapturing areas of the world. When you collect enough red rings, you will unlock Extra Stages as well. These stages offer different challenges, are shorter than the Main Story stages, and will also yield rewards upon completion.
Sonic Forces is a blast! Aside from the Classic Sonic stages, I enjoyed every moment that I was playing, especially when I was able to play with my Avatar. The graphics were impressive and visually pleasing. I found no visual errors, like tearing or clipping, anywhere. Every level was beautifully and functionally constructed. Even in level where colours abounded, it didn’t feel like a bombardment on the senses, though people who battle with photosensitive epilepsy would need to stay away from these stages, unfortunately. The soundtrack is the best I’ve ever heard in a Sonic game, to the point where I hope it is possible to purchase the soundtrack. The story is gripping and has you wanting more after every stage. The ability of being able to play as your own character makes it possible to “put yourself” into the game, making it feel more personal. I would recommend this title! Good job Team Sonic! You can get your copy for consoles, at the time of this review, from BT Games for R565.00 each on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. PC users will need to get theirs on Steam for R400.00. There was news of crashes upon launch, but updates have been released which have hopefully addressed this issue!