Sonic Forces (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Neil Flynn 08.11.2017

Review for Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch

Trash TV. There is something that is quite addictive about it, but also quite shameful. Ever found yourself glued to a TV show that you know isn't good, but just can't stop watching? That is exactly how Sonic Forces feels from start to finish. It truly is a step backwards from Sonic Team's recent 3D Sonic efforts and definitely muddies the crystal clear waters that Sonic Mania created earlier in 2017.

Sonic Forces' plot throws a little curve ball this time around. Sonic has fallen to a multitude of badniks and enemies from his past in what seems like quite a surreal beat down of the blue blur by a collection of the series' antagonists. Leading the enemy forces is Dr. Eggman's new recruit - Infinite, a somewhat trendy looking enemy that can manipulate time and space, or "virtual reality." With Sonic out of commission, this makes way for an introduction to the nameless and speechless Avatar (Create a Player).

As Sonic is defeated and presumed dead, the world falls to the Eggman Empire. All is nearly lost until the resistance, led by Commander Knuckles, recruits your rather bland looking Avatar, and so begins the fight to bring freedom back to the world. As Sonic Forces moves on, the plot becomes a bit tired and repetitive, almost as if Sonic Team left this as a rushed afterthought.

Screenshot for Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch

The Create an Avatar concept starts very barebones, but as progress through the game is made, additional options unlock. By the end of the adventure, there are a variety of attire and accessories to adorn, with even more available to unlock if you can S-rank the missions. The Avatar can be one of seven animals: hedgehog, bear, bird, cat, dog, rabbit, and wolf, each with their own special abilities, ranging from homing attacks, and better "ring" retention when hit.

The Avatar also has the ability to use "Wispons," which are the various weapon types that debuted in Sonic Colours, and while they can be changed out, they don't really make a discernible amount of difference to the end result of a stage. Sure, different wisp abilities allow the player to traverse the stage and tackle enemies ever so differently, but ultimately they feel somewhat shoehorned into the game. By default, the Avatar also carries a grappling hook, which makes traversing stages look somewhat like Spider-Man, although this can only be activated at certain points in the level, similar to Sonic homing in on a spring.

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Sonic Forces comes with two difficulty modes: Normal and Hard. Normal mode limits the number of rings that can be collected, but also only subtracts 20 rings when the player gets hit, unlike in Hard mode, where standard rules of limitless rings can be collected and also lost in one fell swoop. The life system has also been done away with; instead, the player is restarted at the nearest checkpoint. If on a boss battle, then dying can restart the entire boss altogether, or in some instances the player can pick up from where they left off, meaning that dying during some bosses has no consequences, as the damage inflicted to the boss is carried over. However, dying still has knock-on effects to your overall ranking of the stage, so be sure to not throw away chances to get an S-rank.

The game is divided up into four types of stage: Classic Sonic, Modern Sonic, Avatar, and Tag Team. Those who played Sonic Generations will find some familiarity with this format, where levels alternate between different styles. Classic Sonic stages are in a modern 2.5D side-scrolling style, and the other three level types play akin to 3D boost stages from Sonic Colours and Sonic Unleashed, with a few side-scrolling sections and unwelcomed quick time events. The Tag Team levels, although seldom, play somewhat similar to stages in Sonic Heroes and feature both Modern Sonic and the Avatar, and utilise both boost functions and Wisp abilities.

Screenshot for Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch

Sonic Forces can be enjoyable to play at times, and is in its element when with Modern Sonic. As this version of Sonic, gameplay feels fluid and fast; however, these moments are rare and the problems inherently lie with poor stage design and pacing. Most levels can be boosted through in around two to three minutes, and the ranking system discourages the player to explore some of the alternate paths mainly because they are not needed. The game rarely throws any obstacles at you other than quirky level design that accidentally throws you off course, or places that require the player to platform. Even when it does throw enemies or pitfalls, they often feel somewhat unfair and obtuse.

Button presses - be it on the Pro Controller or in handheld mode - don't feel responsive enough and can cause annoying bottomless pit deaths or missed homing attacks. Even the D-pad does little to help the slippery controls. Regardless of the frustratingly ill-timed deaths, Sonic Forces can be breezed through in around three to four hours, with very little to come back for. There are side missions and a few hidden bonus stages, but nothing that really adds on a desire to want to come back once the main campaign is done.

Screenshot for Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch

Visually, this does look good on the Nintendo Switch. It is colourful and bright, although it's barely a step up from Sonic Generations, which released six years ago on last-gen hardware. The Nintendo Switch version does suffer when compared to its counterpart versions, though, only running at 720p docked and 30fps, but at least this stays almost consistent throughout the entire game, which is a plus. As to be expected, the PS4 and newly-launched Xbox One X versions run at 1080/60, with vastly better details, textures, draw distance and lighting. However, it seems apparent that the non-Xbox One X models operate at 720p, which is quite strange considering the standard PS4 offers 1080/60. If you do have a choice of platform and have no need to play the game portably, then picking up the PS4 or Xbox One X version seems to be the best way to play.

The soundtrack is perhaps one of the redeeming qualities of the whole experience, with pop-rock tunes that most modern millennial Sonic fans will be accustomed to. The voice language can also be changed into a variety of languages, including Japanese, although the English voice acting is passable. Given that there are quite a few good one-liners, it might be worth keeping it in English in your first playthrough, although the unnecessary conversations that happen during the levels can get grating at times.

Screenshot for Sonic Forces on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Sonic Forces is far from perfect, with frustrating controls, brevity, poor level design, and a lack of challenge. The visuals, soundtrack, and the occasional moment of flair leave the game with some redeemable qualities, but it ultimately disappoints even the most forgiving Sonic sympathiser. The bad outweighs the good, and the positives are not enough to warrant a recommendation to purchase unless you are an absolute die-hard Sonic fan. At least it is a step up from Sonic Boom, but a considerable buzzkill compared to the sublime and excellent Sonic Mania.

Developer

Sonic Team

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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