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Following the success of Sonic Mania, a game that managed to wring out the last drops of nostalgic milk from the metaphorical udder, Sonic Team attempted to the recreate the lighting in the bottle with their latest gimmick ridden addition to the Sonic canon. It’s made by the same teams that brought us Sonic Colours and Sonic Generations and while I loved these games, I can’t help but notice the lazy stink of mechanical reuse here. See colours had wisp power-ups, little aliens that grant you special abilities and Generations was a nostalgia romp through Sonic’s past. But Sonic Team here has flat-out taken these mechanics and put them in this game, as you have wisp powerups again and most of the levels are mashups of previous games.
So for the story is your typical Sonic fare: Eggman has some dimensional being under his control there must be a superstore specially catered to dimensional beings of death, and he has taken over the world so now its up to Sonic and the gang to stop him, so it’s all the old anime spiel on teamwork and friendship and all that Tea Gardener fluffiness. Yes, I watch Yugi-Oh. I am a nerd.
But if you’ve been familiar with the recent releases, we know that the developers are eager to shove in a new game mechanic with each new game, painfully trying to keep the attention of a failing fanbase. So here the latest “gimmick” is you can now create your own furry mascot a hot new concept that has never been done before (what’s that Skyrim, Fallout, and practically every RPG ever does this?). Okay, so it’s a tired concept, but this time Sonic Team seems to maybe outdone itself here. You start off with basic options, what your base creature is, eye colour, fur colour and basic clothes. But as you play the game you unlock more clothes options which are surprisingly varied. So, what about gameplay, well it sticks to standard Sonic fair, go fast jump platforms, fall into pits because of poor level design drat it, but with your new character you can do all but 5 times slower than before, though you do get an option of wisp guns to use each with a different attribute and gives you access to the sole wisp the gun is attached to.
All the levels are set out as episodes, featuring levels that allow you to play as modern sonic (go fast in 3D), your OC (original character), or as classic Sonic (go fast in 2D), which gives you some variety and you even get levels where your OC and Sonic team up, offering different paths depending on the aforementioned wisp gun. Each of the wisps correspond to an action, be it a flame powered double jump or a ring followed lightning arc. This adds more reply values as you collect the red rings and unlock all the extra clothing options for your character. There are also extra SOS missions that offer either completely different levels (akin to the challenges of Generations) or you play the already finished story missions with a set randomly selected character.
Overall, Sonic Forces is a pleasant surprise to me as a Sonic Fan. Yeah, it seems to have been banking on the whole character creation and the story is a bit rushed but whereas his past few games gave me frustration while playing, Forces made me have fun. The levels can be short and some are practically pointless but for the fun ones, I found myself playing level after level and finding hard to put down. This is a decent attempt to fix the franchise and here’s to Sega to keep this going.