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Joshua MacDougall @FreakinClever
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Sonic Forces feels like a game made to appease a checklist dictated by corporate overlords... that was then developed by a bunch of 12 year olds.

This is my Sonic Forces review thread. Strap yourselves in.
Considering the last Sonic game I've played was 06 for my video series, I actually enjoyed myself for the first few levels. Holding forward and the boost button is less nauseating than 06's levels and camera. So that was a plus.
And the basic plot premise, of having Sonic defeated by SUPER EDGY NEW VILLAIN™ and having Eggman start a fascist, completely serious empire while torturing Sonic for months, is so ridiculously bad that it's amusing. So far, so good.
If the game could keep this level of fan-servicey bullshit and bearable but boring gameplay going, it could be a trash masterpiece. Inoffensive to play, hilarious to make fun of how serious it is.

But then Classic Sonic appears.
Classic Sonic appearing in Sonic Forces is one of the most baffling decisions in a franchise that has included an anthromorphic hedgehog getting resurrected by the kiss of a human teenage girl.

It is so baffling, it is offensive to players. Here's why:
Classic Sonic is never, and I mean NEVER important to the plot. He doesn't meet up with the player created avatar or Modern Sonic until the cutscene before the last level of the entire game. All of the things he does with Tails could have been the player avatar, easily.
Now, the only reason I can think of including Classic Sonic (beyond being a Generations sequel, I'll get to that in a second), is the idea the game BRIEFLY toys with regarding Eggman corrupting Sonic's world, and incorporating that into level design.
The game's plot has you visiting Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, and the Death Egg; during the Green Hill Zone levels, you can see that the area is slowly drying out, becoming less colorful, and turning into a desert.
I could POTENTIALLY see them using this idea in classic Sonic stages: "Oh hey, it's areas you remember, but they've been changed by Eggman!" That's a neat-ish idea, if slightly reminiscent of everything being white and faded by the villain in Generations.
The problem? Modern Sonic or the playable avatar goes through these levels first, and has the exact same visual design. Classic Sonic just does weird follow-up levels later which, I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT HAVE THE AREA'S MUSIC.
What is the point of having these nostalgic callbacks to previous Sonic games if they no longer look like they should, no longer sound like they should, and have already been played through sometimes multiple times before?
So we're left with Classic Sonic feeling forced (ha) into the game, simply because someone at Sega said "Generations was good, we need things from Generations". Which might have worked if not for one thing...

A good nostalgic Sonic game was already released this year.
Going from the absolute fucking love and joy put into Sonic Mania by it's fan developers, to a cynical, misguided cash-grab appearance by the actual Sonic Team in Sonic Forces, is one of the most depressing things in the entire games industry. I mean, HOLY SHIT.
And eventually, the whole game just starts to feel cynical and misguided. The story stops being as ridiculous in its darkness, and just turns into bad children's TV show writing. For example:
The game brings up the plot point that destroying the Death Egg will make Infinite weak enough to defeat, because it's his power source. So, a multiple step/mission plan is put in place to accomplish this:
1) There's a mission to distract Eggman's main security forces from protecting an outpost in charge of the Death Egg's defences.
2) There's a mission where you infiltrate this now less secured outpost, in order to shut off the Death Egg's defences.
3) The mission where you finally attack the Death Egg and- Wait, Tails just suddenly gives the line of dialogue that "There must have been a backup power source for the Death Egg's defences. Guess you gotta sneak past them!"
So suddenly, the entire reasoning for the previous two levels of the game turns out to not be required at all. This isn't a big twist, it's just casually "Oh yeah, none of that mattered."

This is bullshit from both a plot standpoint, and from a gameplay standpoint.
Platformers, especially linear ones like Sonic, should have their levels being memorable. But Forces has you going through the same locations multiple times. So at least your REASONS for coming back each time should be important and distinct, right?
But if your plot specifically starts telling you that those last few levels didn't matter, the developers are literally telling you that some of their game was just padding. In a game that's already like 3-4 hours long. Seriously.
Eventually, the game just keeps anti-climactically dropping plot points that seemed important (Infinite's SUPER SCARY MOVE gets overcome in like 20 seconds of cutscene), or saying the levels you just did are pointless.
Seriously, Eggman does the "I HAD A SECRET BACKUP POWER SOURCE" thing like 3 times.
And all of the levels in the latter half of the game are either snooze-fests where you just blast forward, or aggravating sections where the game displays just how NOT ready this engine is designed to handle slow sections.
Also, side note, having your villain's entire aesthetic being attacks that "change your reality" and make your controls weird/make it really damn hard to see what's happening? Suuuuuch a bad idea in a platformer.
The game finally, mercifully ends with a super disappointing whimper. They do the final boss from Sonic Colors AGAIN, and Infinite just disappears from the story. Maybe there's a secret ending that feels more complete, but I haven't seen evidence yet.
They don't even do the obvious thing of letting your character and Sonic both go Super Saiyan at the same time, and kick an unstoppable evil's ass. THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ENTIRE POINT OF GIVING US A CHARACTER CREATOR; an incredible final team-up boss fight.
Instead, the game weirdly makes that "super cool moment to the game's theme song" come like halfway through the game. As you can see, I was overjoyed at the time. I didn't know the game had peaked.…
Like... why would that happen in a random level? That's fucking awesome, but it's not even the first time your character meets Sonic. I am legitimately baffled by nearly every decision Sonic Team made with this game.
I could go on and on about weird things. About how Sonic Team somehow, after 20+ years of doing this, finally made a game where the "just push forward and jump" cliche actually became true. About how weirdly lifeless all the environments are.
About how, for some goddamn reason, the robots from Sonic Boom are hanging around with Eggman, seemingly to be comic relief, but don't actually say anything until two-thirds of the way into the game.
About how Vector is a fucking dick.
But I'm just gonna end on this: I have no goddamn idea how this game was made by adult humans. I don't even mean that as an entirely bad thing, because even some of the aspects I did like seem so damn illogical or weird from a game design standpoint.
So let's all raise a glass to Sonic Team; the devs that seem incapable of making a mediocre game, cause it's either gonna turn out good, or a complete disaster. Thanks for giving me interesting things to talk about.

Just please have zero creative control over Sonic Mania 2.
PS: Apparently those two robots have been in other Sonic games, and my brain just decided to erase them. Their inclusion and dynamic is still weird, though.
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