Sonic Forces is one of those games that’s alright if you just look at it from a purely gameplay stance, but a huge disappointment once you include the plot. Even though the sonic series is viewed as a gameplay, focused series, but the themes that the plot decided to go with – rebelling against the man – doesn’t really warrant the “at least the gameplay is good” argument.
The gameplay itself is unchanged from other sonic games: you speed through the stage as sonic until you reach the end, except now one has a grappling hook. There are some moderate differences to this game, like how you no longer have any lives, in this game, and you just have infinite retries. There are three characters you will play as throughout the game: Modern sonic, classic sonic, and the custom character that you get to make, and the mechanics between the three characters don’t really make a lot of sense, like classic sonic will be float while in the process of jumping while modern sonic and the custom character will fall like a brick once they reached their peak height when jumping.
There are some miscellaneous features of the game worth mentioning as well. The custom character was easily the highlight of the game, where you pick the character’s species, choose the clothes it wears – that you unlock as the game progresses – and it even gets its own story arc, which is one of the few standout moments in the plot, but we’ll get to that. The music was fine, there were only a few memorable tracks, but nothing to write home about. The engine used those a really good job of putting otherwise cartoony characters in a semi-realistic setting.
Now, for my biggest problem with this game: the plot. The basic summary is that Dr. Eggman has finally beaten – and presumably killed – sonic with the help of the new villain infinite, as well as foes from Sonic’s past. (At least, this is all canon within the game’s chronology.) Six months have passed, and Eggman has essentially taken over the entire world, and all but a small resistance has formed to stop him.
Within seconds after having your customizable character introduced to the Resistance, Sonic is revealed to be alive after he was presumed dead, which just feels like a cop out. Not to mentioned, when he is reveled to be alive, one of the characters said that sonic has been tortured in prison for six months, but when you finally get to play as him again, he shows no signs of psychological damage. I’m not asking for a Jacob’s ladder level of evaluation of an individual with potentially PTSD, but there is no way that someone goes off that clean from six straight months of torture.
So later down the line, sonic goes to confront shadow about why he’s joined the bad side, suddenly, it is revealed by the real shadow that it was a creation of the infinity crystal, which make projections of people appear super realistic and allows them to be able to touch other individuals. This is the first time the resistance has heard about this. I’m sorry, but you’d think with an enemy using one source of energy to rule the entire planet, you’d think that at least, oh I don’t know, someone from the resistance would’ve caught on to this.
Near the end of the game, it is revealed that Dr. Eggman’s super-secret plan to rule the world was to put Sonic into null space, a place were literally nothing exists, but once Sonic and your character gets sucked into null space, it takes at least fifteen seconds for you to get out by running superfast. Our main characters have been introduced to null space for less than two minutes and in less than two minutes they figured out how to get out.
Now, this sounds like I’m just nitpicking specific moments within the game, but here’s the thing: these moments that I’ve just describe happen within an hour of each other, in a three hour game. Now, I’m not one to stick up my nose if I fine a game can be beaten in a short amount of time – in fact, I find the mindset premature – but this game should’ve been longer, especially with how rushed the game feels. It feels like the game is more interested in quickly getting to each story beat then it is in telling a story of rebellion, and the conflicts that come with being on small resistance team.
There are also some minor things about the plot as well. The OC’s arc, while still the highlight, flips a switch from being scared to being brave halfway through the game, even though they have been through more several moments of peril throughout the game. Infinite is a generic second hand villain who only exists to drive the plot of the game, just to be killed off right before the final confrontation with Eggman. Classic sonic did need to be in this game, you literally could’ve taking his subplot with modern tails and nothing would be lost.
As stated above, Sonic Forces his a decent game, with a lacking plot. While the game remains unchanged from most Sonic games, the plot is extremely underdeveloped, and could’ve used more meat.