Game Review: Sonic Forces (PS4)

Sonic Forces marks the debut of a 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game onto next-gen systems; but does it make to provide the same satisfaction as the official fan-made project Sonic Mania? The answer is no, due to how much nostalgia and retro goodness Sonic Mania offered; but from a ‘modern’ concept Sonic Forces is an enjoyable experience. How exactly? Well find out in our review!

  Title: Sonic Forces
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team
Platform: PlayStation 4
Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Audio: English
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (18.2GB)

Our View:

Sonic Forces is not the game Sonic fans wanted; but it is the game we have been given, and despite a few complaints it is a solid game that provides an enjoyable experience; even if it is extremely short lived.

Developed by Sonic Team and published by SEGA, Sonic Forces is the latest entry into the 3D based Sonic the Hedgehog videogame franchise which sees players take control of Sonic in order to foil Dr Eggman’s latest plan from taking over the world. Unlike past games however, Sonic finds help in the form of a custom character; a character which soon becomes integral to the story, a story that’s not only dark but extremely different from anything we have experienced previously.

The story of Sonic Forces is that six months after Sonic’s defeat from Infinite and Dr Eggman’s conquest of the world, the resistance, which consist of characters such as Tails, Amy, Knuckles and Silver, recruit your custom character to fight against Dr Eggman and his world domination. This custom character, later to be nicknamed as the ‘rookie’, is soon tasked with saving Sonic from Dr Eggman’s Death Egg space station which upon doing so sees Sonic and the ‘Rookie’ team up in an attempt to reclaim the world that has been overrun by Dr Eggman and his minions.

From a story perspective Sonic Forces is quite dark; not just because Sonic is defeated, captured and tortured by Dr Eggman’s minions, but due to the whole ‘end of the world’ scenario that is overshadowing the entire storyline. As a result of this Sonic Forces offers a refreshing story experience to the norm, even more so when you realise that the story is presented to you through a variety of different ways.

For instance progression of the story is presented to you through in-game cut scenes, all of which render in real-time and display your custom character, audio dialogue on the hub world before and after each mission (stage) begins and voice-overs during each mission which inform the player of events that are happening elsewhere.

Compared to Sonic Generations, and in turn Sonic Lost World, the progression and presentation of the story is more engaging and has a sense of natural flow; but alas this has had an impact on the overall gameplay experience. How exactly?

Well as the focus is on ‘story’ rather than gameplay the levels are not only short but they are extremely easy, with each level offering ‘very minimal’ challenges and alternate routes; both of which is unheard of for a sonic game. That’s not the only difference either as regardless of difficulty (Normal or Hard) players will be given an infinite amount of lives and as such collecting rings becomes a pointless venture with the normal difficulty being relegated to only collecting a maximum of 100 rings.

As a result of this simplicity you could say Sonic Forces is a game aimed at a younger audience, due to how accessible and potentially easy it is; but with the darker storyline and the large amounts of nostalgia on offer, as key characters from the Sonic franchise appear on screen, it is hard to pinpoint who this game was designed for.

That being said gameplay does remain true to form with Modern Sonic offering that fast paced gameplay you’d come to expect, with homing attacks, stomp and boost dash being available, while Classic Sonic offers that ‘retro’ experience in 3D form; however neither add nor expand upon previously introduced features. It is safe to say that the gameplay style for both Modern & Classic Sonic have gone ‘back to basics’ with the gimmicks of Wisps and abilities being left on the sidelines in favour of speed.

The only new addition to the gameplay experience is the custom character; not only can this character be fully customised, with new items and outfits unlocked upon completing missions, but weapons, known as Wispons, can be equipped to offer different weapon abilities. For example upon starting the game players will receive the Burst Wispon, which is a fire type weapon, but as you progress further through the game additional Wispon weapons will become accessible.

These wispon weapons are based off the wisps featured within Sonic Colours; although the abilities of these said wisps remain relatively unused for the most part. Unfortunately despite this variety in weapon loadout unless you want to explore the (rather small) areas of each map changing weapons is not really needed and in my experience the Burst Wispon provides the best ‘destructive’ experience than the other wispons.

To add some additional variety some levels will allow players to switch between Modern Sonic & the ‘Rookie’ during a mission. It’s an interesting mechanic and unlike past games, such as Sonic Heroes, which force change the character depending on that portion of the level in Sonic Forces players can freely swap between the characters with no hesitations of restrictions.

In this case both characters will appear on screen at the time and when the main attack button (e.g. R2 for Avatar) is used the characters will swap. It is also in these same levels that the ‘double boost’ mechanic can be activated; a mechanic which can only be used at certain times and requires the player to mash the Square button until the timer ends.

These ‘team work’ missions further reiterate the ‘working together’ aspect that Sonic Forces is all about and while it still runs off the core gameplay mechanics (i.e. speed) they do offer a bit of variety than the other missions in the game do not.

Speaking of Missions, Sonic Forces features thirty story missions each of which contain five red rings and a ranking system with new content, such as avatar items and bonus missions, becoming unlocked upon meeting certain requirements. In addition to these missions objectives, and daily objectives, are also offered which unlock further content – most of which relate to avatar items.

From a gameplay perspective Sonic Forces does not feature that much, as the game can easily be completed within three hours; but from a content and replay ability aspect then Sonic Forces features an extensive amount of content with hundreds of customisable options and objectives being accessible. Naturally these only extend the already short game time but for those wishing to collect everything within the game then it is going to extend the game.

Speaking of ‘extension’ players can download a free content pack known as ‘EPISODE SHADOW’. This pack adds three extra story missions which act as a prequel to the events of Sonic Forces as well as allow Shadow to be used as a playable character within Modern Sonic stages. It’s bizarre why this wasn’t included with the main game but regardless it is a shoved lived experience with this piece of DLC only lasting around twenty minutes.

It’s safe to say that Sonic Forces isn’t exactly the Sonic game we were hoping to get, nor does it improve upon existing foundations within the Sonic franchise; but what we do get is a sonic game that looks exceptionally great, thanks to the new Hedgehog Engine, and a new story experience that feels fresh and different mixed with gameplay that we know and love.

Sonic Forces is a short lived enjoyable experience with a great soundtrack and a good story to tell; but unfortunately its simplistic playstyle doesn’t live up to the expectations set by previous games in the franchise. It’s great fun and easy to play; but it is far from a challenge that you would come to expect from a Sonic game.

Score: review-stars-3

Sonic Forces is now available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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