Hands-on review: Can Sonic Forces redeem the franchise?
Aside from the enjoyable Sonic Mania, the Sonic series has been in a bit of a rut recently. Is Sonic Forces able to redeem the once heralded franchise?
Growing up in the '90s, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of my favourite video game characters of all time. The Sega Megadrive games were excellent while the 3D Adventure series were also enjoyable.
However, there have been a lot of duds from Sonic. Sonic 2006 was a glitchy mess that I gave up playing it while the recent Wii U titles were also pretty bad. Thankfully, Sonic Forces is not a terrible game, but it's not perfect either.
I managed to review Sonic Forces on the new Xbox One X console and I'm glad to say that I did not encounter any technical glitches whatsoever. The game ran smoothy at 60fps at all times and the graphics look bright and gorgeous. Sure the game recycles some familiar landscapes such as the classic 'Green Hill Zone', but there are several other diverse locations for you to see. You really get an adrenaline rush playing this game because Sonic and his pals have never travelled this fast before.
To somewhat make the game less repetitive, Sonic Forces allows you to play as three different characters. The main character is the Modern Sonic who can talk and uses the spin dash. The secondary character is the Classic Sonic who has the abilities from the old games.
Lastly, new to the series is the ability for you to create your own character. The character can be various animal types, although I tried my best to make my avatar look like Lola Bunny. Anyway, this character can swing like Spider-Man from hooks and also can wield weapons like a flamethrower and more.
Sadly, you are not able to control other characters such as Knuckles, Amy or Tails. The only other person that you can play as is Shadow who has three levels of his own. That said, Shadow pretty much has similar abilities to Modern Sonic. In terms of gameplay, there are levels that scroll both horizontally and vertically. There are also around 30 stages in total in the main game including several unique boss fights.
The first 24 stages of Sonic Forces are easy to plough through. The gameplay sadly feels like it's on autopilot most of the time because the characters are travelling so fast in a straight line. There's not much time for you to explore or solve puzzles. I understand most Sonic games are about incredible speed, but past games featured unique level design to break the monotony. Here in this game, most of the levels feel the same even though you are controlling different characters.
The game only gets slightly different after level 25. Level 25 onward is when the difficulty spike is turned up a lot. The latter stages are hard and you need to have good reflexes to dodge pitfalls and other obstacles. Not to mention the final boss can be a pain to beat, but he can be easily beaten once you learn of his predictable pattern. That said, Sonic Forces is far easier to beat compared to Cuphead!
Sadly, once you beat the game there is little replay value on offer here. You only unlock a few more stages, but they are short and nothing memorable. The game is also criminally short as I managed to complete it in around 4.5 hours during my first playthrough.
In New Zealand, Sonic Forces costs $69.99 NZD. This is kind of expensive just to play a game that only lasts for less than 5 hours long. There just isn't enough content keep you entertained for very long.
Overall, Sonic Forces is not a horrible game like Sonic 06, but it sadly doesn't offer very much. The option to play as three different characters is cool and the game looks gorgeous on Xbox One X. Hardcore Sonic fans will like it no matter what, but others should wait for a price drop instead.