The last time I played a Sonic the Hedgehog game I was eight years younger. My experience with Sonic ’06 was about as fun as locking yourself in a bathroom, huffing paint thinner and watching reruns of The A-Team. My weekend plans aside* I was also asked to play Sonic Forces, the newest iteration of that scruffy blue hedgehog that if animal control got its hands on would be put down before you could even utter the words “Gotta go fast”.
I can’t even begin to review Sonic Forces properly without first noting the controversy surrounding its release. Year after year, mediocre Sonic games come out, and this one seems to be no exception to that rule. Bearing in mind I’m writing this paragraph while still downloading the game. After looking around on the internet though this game has been received extremely poorly. One streamer actually beat the game in three hours and then asked for a refund straight after. Is that really the level of quality I’ll be playing? Who knows, but I’m about to find out.
Honestly I’ve got no clue in regard to what the actual lore of Sonic is at this point. I know that really terrible Sonic Boom somehow managed to get a television show, but I always thought this game was as simple as a blue hedgehog running really quickly. But no, it seems to have spanned into something akin to the Mario universe at this stage. Why it’s done that is honestly beyond me but the story revolves around Sonic being killed. As it turns out, he has not been killed but captured. What I can only presume is a reason to implement a character creator, we have to go and rescue Sonic.
I really do need to commend the game for having possibly some of the worst writing I have ever seen. I suppose the delivery of the voice actors doesn’t help make the situation any better either though.
When you think of Sonic you probably think of zooming through fast paced and blurry environments. If you were thinking of literally anything else at all then I’m very sorry you had to experience Sonic Unleashed. To be fair this film is the traditional Sonic format and there is definitely nothing wrong with that. Sticking to what Sega know is quite honestly the best thing they could possibly do at this moment in time. But what do they know? Because from my experience with Sonic games they were never this dull or bland by any degree.
Before I go any further, I just need to talk about the stupidity of the character creation screen. For starters, no, you can’t just remake Sonic, believe me I did try. What I should also point out is that not only are the options limited but they literally make no difference. Honestly it seems like SEGA were trying to appeal to Deviantart by giving people the option to make their own hedgehogs, birds and bears. Let’s be fair though the different character types are fairly new to this series. They’re not new to the world of gaming though, God no it’s been around since World of Warcraft. In this game your best bet is to just play as a hedgehog, mainly because everything else is garbage.
To be honest this character creation aspect really wouldn’t be that big a problem if it weren’t for the lack of depth. All of the special and “unique” abilities that each character gets have little to no impact on the game, especially considering the characters already have most of the upgrades available anyways. Change the eyes, change the colour, and now piss off into the great unknown.
Well, you can’t go fully into the great unknown. Like every single other game of 2017, Sonic Forces uses a World Hub system. Whether or not this was a way of masking the shortness of the game, I honestly don’t know nor care. Either way, it doesn’t do a very good job of it. It does feel like it’s banking on the success of the previous games. At one point the Sonic Generations version of Sonic literally appears in front of Tails through a portal. This is never explained, and it’s more or less just accepted. It feels like a can can of Sonic characters, especially considering the mastermind plan of this game is that Doctor Eggman has assembled all of Sonic’s greatest villains. To be fair I’m quite surprised to see Chaos in there, along with Shadow. But surprise really isn’t enough to get me through a fully priced game.
But as far as actual gameplay goes, how exactly does Sonic Forces wow the audience and whisk them away on a once in a lifetime experience? It’s ingenious actually. What they do is that they do the exact opposite. It’s the same, retired formula that ran dry almost twenty years ago but with some fairly nice graphical components stitched onto it. The stages are extremely brief, which is probably one of the main reasons why this game is so short. Most notably the early stages, which don’t even serve as tutorials, are extremely short. Between the mess of mini cut scenes and pauses to read some stuff that pops up on the screen, there isn’t much in the way of gameplay.
I’m sure you’re as disappointed as I am when you realise there isn’t much in the way of music or sound in Sonic Forces. By all means there is sound, but what’s the honest point of it being there. It’s so bland and tasteless that it’s better to just mute the game or slap on some different music. I did write in my notes that the first song for the first stage of the game was moderately tolerable though. As far as the rest of the game goes it does nothing impressive and can barely string itself together in that regard.
At least you don’t have to listen to the songs all that long though. By the time the stage begins, like I said previously, it’s pretty much over already. Still that is a blessing in disguise because to be quite honest I really wouldn’t want to listen to the drivel they’ve slapped into their stages. Not only does it not fit the stage or in fact add anything to the game, but it manages to detract from the experience as a whole. No, I’m not going to say it’s that big of a deal, but it’s honestly something worth keeping in mind for if you ever play this. You might want to do so, if you do, then just wait three weeks, it’ll be on sale for £5.99. It’s not even worth that much when you step back and look at it.
You would honestly have more fun staring at a wall than playing this game. Sure, you may think I’m joking but believe me when I say I whole heartedly mean that statement. Sonic Forces is truly an example of what happens when a developer just gives up and can’t be arsed anymore. Do I blame the guys and gals at SEGA for that? Of course I don’t, I just feel a bit bad that after all these years there isn’t a single thing they can do to re-invent that blue fur ball.
I would say something such as “how the mighty have fallen”, but Sonic has always been in second place. Mario has always been the pinnacle to reach for, and Sonic just sort of trailed behind for the most of the console wars. Then obviously Sony took over and Crash Bandicoot replaced Sonic as the number two guy. Sonic is basically the Brendan Fraser of video game history. Popular in the nineties, but you don’t see him do anything ground breaking these days.
You know a Sonic game has failed you when it makes you reminisce about Big the Cat.
Sonic Forces Receives the Thumb Culture Bronze Award
Disclaimer: We received a digital code to carry out this review.
*For legal reasons I must disclose that I did not in fact spend my weekend huffing paint thinner and watching reruns of The A-Team. I was watching Baywatch.