Review: Sonic Forces (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review: Sonic Forces (Switch)

By Sairus Delaney

Can Sonic Team live up to the high bar set by Sonic Mania? Short answer: no. 
Sonic Forces is the latest in Sonic Team’s efforts bring the Blue Blur to modern consoles, and as with virtually all of their recent games it’s an extremely mixed bag.

Sonic Generations is widely regarded as the best Sonic Team game ever released and Forces is clearly trying to recapture some of that magic with a similar premise of switching between versions of sonic. Classic 2D Sonic has slightly slower stages based around trying to find more optimal, smoother routes, and Modern 3D Sonic has blindingly fast roller coaster stages that honestly mostly play themselves. Joining those two playstyles is the new custom Avatar character that maneuvers and attacks with a grappling hook and equipable weapon, with stages more based around tricky platforming.
All of these modes are quite distinct, but also have just enough in common with each other to keep the game feeling cohesive. However, as is the curse of most Sonic Team games, all of them are passable, but all of them also have annoying and clunky quirks to their control systems which will frequently have the player taking hits or dying mostly through no fault of their own.

As you progress through the game’s thirty-plus missions you’ll be forced to switch back and forth between all three characters, plus occasional team-up stages where Modern Sonic and the Avatar can swap in and out to use both their abilities. These missions are selected from a confusing world map, which can thankfully be completely ignored by using a simple side menu listing available stages.
The stages themselves have some major problems. On the good side of the coin is that the stages are almost uniformly gorgeous. The bad side is that most of the stages have you traveling so fast it’s almost impossible to actually see what’s going on at any given time because everything is so busy. The camera is also zoomed out quite far in most 2D segments, so even when going through these slightly slower sections it’s very hard to see your character, and sometimes to tell platforms from background art.
Traveling so fast also means the levels are short. And I mean very short. These are some of the shortest stages I have ever played in a platforming game. There are seven distinct regions in the game, but you travel between them constantly over the course of the campaign. Swapping between playstyles and regions so often, combined with the ludicrously short stages robs any of the regions of their own unique character. As a result most of the game just feels like a samey blob. I feel that a more traditional sequential approach to the regions would have helped stave this feeling off.

To combat the short length, the game does encourage you to replay stages to complete optional missions and search out hidden collectables. While finding most of these collectibles does unlock new stages, they will begin to feel like padding very quickly. Unfortunately, I suspect the game was actually planned to be much longer, but trimmed down and released unfinished. Some of the major enemy characters present in many story scenes and promotional materials are completely missing from actual gameplay sections with no explanation.
Surprisingly, the character creation aspect of the game is actually one of its best features. A simple, quick interface will have you creating authentic looking Sonic characters in seconds. As you progress through the game you constantly unlock new customization options and weapons, encouraging you to mix things up often. Your character also appears in most of the game’s numerous cutscenes, feeling like an actually important part of the game.

Like with most of Sonic Team games, Sonic Forces is almost a great game. However, it falls just short of that mark in virtually all areas, resulting in a package that is barely good. A fantastic soundtrack, fun storyline and shockingly good character creation system are undercut by awkward controls, absurdly short, samey stages and cluttered visuals. Younger players will probably not notice the latter complaints, and really enjoy the exciting set-pieces that the game offers but I can’t recommend this to anyone who’s not already a big fan of Sonic games. 

Final Score 5.0

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