It isn’t perfect, but Sonic Forces is really fun where it counts. And adding your own new character to the Sonic franchise is simply the best.

Barely two months after the critically acclaimed, nostalgia filled masterpiece that is Sonic Mania, we get a new Sonic game, with a AAA production and full fledged 3D – Sonic Forces.

Sonic Forces is the first story-driven Sonic game in roughly 10 years of Sonic games with barely a plot. It’s also the spiritual successor for the awesome Sonic Generations, and a follow up to Sonic Mania, so you can imagine the hype surrounding this one. But does it deliver.

After a mysterious masked figure named Infinite manages to defeat Sonic, the world is left defenseless. That is when Eggman swoops in and takes over 99.99% of it. Now, a resistance group which includes all of our favorite Sonic characters, is led by Knuckles to cautiously save people and release the world from the Eggman Empire’s conquest.

That’s when we come in. Not as Sonic, but as a completely new character that joins the resistance in order to help defeat Eggman. And For the first time in the franchise – we get to create that new character.

Sonic Forces review Custom Character

Compared to other story-driven Sonic games like Sonic Adventure, the story falls short. The story gives us three different narratives for Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic (who is returning from Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania) and our own custom character. The story isn’t very surprising, and even bad guy Infinite, which has an intimidating presence, a mask and mysterious powers, doesn’t get a very fleshed-out background or a lot of screen time.

What the story excels at is the the development of the avatar character. Our custom character, despite having no lines of dialog at all, with only the occasional grunt, evolves throughout the story. By the end of it, it becomes as powerful and as heroic as Sonic himself. That gives immense sense of satisfaction, since after all, the avatar character represents you.

Character customization takes a large portion of the game and is one of the best additions to the series. You can choose anything from the animal you play, to the victory pose your character does when you complete a level. You can also dress your character up with shoes, gloves, scarfs, masks, and loads more, to make it into whatever you want it to be. Whenever you complete a mission or get an S rank in a level, you’ll receive 4 to 6 additional accessories to customize your character with, and this will surely motivate you to replay levels.

Sonic Forces review Classic Sonic

The levels are divided into Classic Sonic, Modern Sonic, and the avatar character. Classic Sonic feels a bit goofy to control, like he accelerates funny and jumps funny. Once you get used to it, he can be very fun to play, especially with the returning Drop Dash mechanism from Sonic Mania. Despite of that, his levels feel a lot less complex and interesting than the levels in Sonic Mania or even Sonic Generations, and although it’s a fun play style, it doesn’t really live up to its potential.

Modern Sonic, on the other hand, has very nice levels, with rather interesting forking paths which gives the player different ways to traverse a stage. That said, the game has very few places with 3D platforming, and most of the platforming is in 2D, and generally fairly easy. This can leave a feeling that the levels, which are short as it is, are too easy, and it’s a bit of a shame. The quick time events and automated areas, surprisingly, didn’t really hurt the flow and actually contributed to seeing how beautiful the levels are.

Alongside the Sonic duo, we got a new playstyle for our custom avatar character. Although my initial impression from the Gamescom demo was that this was my least favorite playstyle, by the time I finished the game, it had become my favorite one. The avatar character can use a Wispon – a weapon with a Wisp, those alien creatures from Sonic Colors, inside it. The Wispon can attack enemies from afar, and use Wisp pickups to get a special platforming ability. Those abilities differ depending on the Wispon you choose to equip, and they let you explore different parts of a level. With the best tunes and some really cool level designs, this was definitely my favorite playstyle.

There are some levels in which you get to play Sonic and the avatar at the same time. This lets you enjoy Sonic’s speed and the avatar’s great platforming sections. I really enjoyed these levels, and they reminded me of Sonic Heroes a little bit. The boss battles were the game’s weaker side in my opinion, since a lot of them were designed as chase battles with repetitive gameplay.

In terms of presentation, the game is probably the prettiest 3D Sonic game I have ever seen. The environments are bright, unique and full of life, and are truly beautiful to behold. It kind of looks like some of the levels are built simply for us to admire the view, a notion that is also expressed in how the game handles its quick time events. It’s also very fun to see parts of robots scatter on the ground after blowing them up, and getting to kick them around. There’s no doubt that the new engine looks sweet.

Sonic Forces review action

While the game looks great, the graphics don’t always pay off. For example, In some of the darker levels, the character can be hard to distinguish from the background, which makes them unnecessarily difficult.

The music, as expected from a Sonic game, is delightful. Classic Sonic’s levels have fun and classic 16-bit music, and Modern Sonic runs to a more electronic soundtrack that kind of sounds like anime opening themes. But the music truly shines during the avatar character’s levels. These are usually electronic, upbeat, and incorporate vocals and dubstep, to engage and make you want to run as fast as you can. The boss battles also have some very good music, and in general the soundtrack ranges from upbeat and fun to dramatic and epic.

Sonic Forces was a game that I really enjoyed. While it does have its flaws, its both fun and beautiful. I had a blast designing my very own character, and its music is still stuck in my head. Yeah, it doesn’t have the same charm as Sonic Mania or the polish of Sonic Generations, but I feel like it’s a must play game for any Modern Sonic fans that have been dreaming about leaving their mark on the Sonic universe.

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