Sonic the Hedgehog was my definitive childhood hero. From the Genesis to the Adventure series, I was all in. However, it’s no secret that the blue hedgehog has had a series of downs in the 3D realm, making most gamers think that Sonic only works in a 2D space. This was even more apparent after the release of Sonic Mania in August, which automatically made people scoff at the upcoming Sonic Forces. I did not buy into this hatred of a game that hasn’t even come out yet, because Sonic Team did good with Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, and even Sonic Unleashed minus that abominable WereHog. They had 3D Sonic figured out, and they were going to use the Colors and Generations formula with Forces. At least, that’s what it looked like.
This time, Dr. Eggman has won. With the help of a mysterious being named Infinite and a gem called the Phantom Ruby, they finally defeated Sonic and took over the world. As a result of his death (he turns out to be alive, shocker), his friends began a resistance against Eggman with a help of a new rookie. The story in Forces is as basic and simple as the later games have been: the stakes aren’t high, the dialogue is cheesy, and it’s relatively lighthearted. I used to play Sonic games for their story when I was a kid, but as I have gotten older, I realized that they may have taken things a little too seriously considering all the anthropomorphic animals. The result of the recent games’ lightheartedness was likely a result of Sonic 06’s overcomplicated and melodramatic plot. If there’s anything I have to give the story credit for, it’s that Infinite is an excellent villain with great voice acting provided by Liam O’Brien. I would love to see him return in future titles.
Earlier I mentioned that the resistance is aided by the help of a new rookie. Well, this rookie is a custom avatar created by the player. You can make your own bird, dog, hedgehog, etc, and unlock outfits for them to wear, though I’ve never changed out of my Persona 5 outfit. Simply put, this is the worst part about the game. Out of the the 30 missions, you play as the custom rookie for about half that. Keep in mind, this is a game where you play as Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic, and the custom avatar, so you’re not playing as Sonic for that long in his own game. Of course, I wouldn’t be complaining as much if the custom avatar was fun to play with.
The avatar equips a weapon called a Wispon and its functions can be changed from a flamethrower, to a shock coil, to even a hammer. It’s as simple as holding the right trigger to aim at whatever is smack-dab in front of you, but the shock coil automatically moves the character forward so that was fun to figure out the first time. Even though the avatar can run as fast as Sonic and can do a homing attack like him, it just doesn’t feel good to play as them. It feels slippery to move and jumps don’t always land. I wish I could say this wasn’t true for Classic and Modern Sonic.
Somehow it feels like Sonic Team forgot just about everything they learned from Colors and Generations, by making the levels about 2-3 minutes long and making both Sonics harder to control. This is especially the case with Classic Sonic, fresh after playing Sonic Mania. He doesn’t gather nearly as much speed as he should, making it near impossible to run up the slopes he easily could have in Sonic Mania. When it comes to Modern Sonic, he controls well in the 3D sections where he constantly moves forward, but in the 2D sections, he’s a nightmare. He moves too fast for traditional platforming and his jumps are hard to land. These issues were not as bad in Colors or Generations.
I’m a firm believer in Sonic Team. They are a competent development team with a ton of potential. That being said, Sonic Forces was a step in the completely wrong direction. It’s not the worst Sonic game I’ve ever played- that honor goes to either Sonic Boom or Sonic ’06- but at least those games stood out thanks to their embarrassingly glaring issues. Sonic Forces just feels like it’s there. At the same time, it’s still a playable game that some people (mostly die-hard Sonic fans) will enjoy, but the flaws it presents make the game forgettable at best. It’s not the best or worst, it just…is.