Sonic Forces @EGX 2017 Hands On Impressions

This week was the Eurogamer Expo (EGX), I attended the convention over two days and I was able to play Sonic Forces several times across all platforms (PC was not available).

I tried and tested every Avatar weapon and power up, each stage was played multiple times and I ended up discovering all the pathways on each stage.

This will be a long read because if I were in your position, I would want a very detailed impression on this game so I have a very clear idea as to what I can currently expect.

Music

[This applies only to the tracks in the demo, not tracks released on YouTube]

Every time I listen to Forces’ soundtrack on YouTube, I really don’t like it. So why did I really enjoy the music when actually listening to it in the game? Even the Green Hill Boss fight was quite catchy.

Even after I finished the Avatar stage I found myself humming the tune and singing the lyrics for a few hours after it, it’s that addictive.

It’s down to the simple reason that the music compliments the action quite well, even the silly sounding synths during the Green Hill fight work as Eggman slowly advances towards you.

I’m as shocked as anyone, I actually like the music in Forces.

Performance & Visuals

[This does not apply to the Switch version; I will talk about that separately at the end of the article.]

Aside from the fact the colour scheme is dark and moody, graphically it’s ok. Textures are high quality; the frame rate appears to be a constant 60fps. I didn’t notice any slowdowns or issues on the PS4/Xbox One versions of the game; it’s a nice game to look at in motion.

Tiny details are scattered around, like a blurry reflection of Sonic and the surrounding scene in a puddle, grass blades blowing in the wind during Green Hill and there’s a huge level of detail on the ending models when you beat a stage.

Sadly though, if you stop in Sunset Heights and try to look at some of the ruined buildings, their textures are lower than they probably should be, shop names appear to be blurred and some details outside the boundary of the path are also low quality. Which is a shame since this is detail you can see from the playable area.

Loading times were also very fast on the PS4 and Xbox One versions; don’t have a time, but they were fast, 2 or 3 seconds at most.

Sonic Forces was running off the systems HDD, unsure if the consoles were pro or standard systems.

Controlling Modern Sonic

Modern Sonic still cannot perform a spin attack, he cannot roll and he still has the same control problems which have plagued the boost era since Unleashed.

At times the gravity in Sonic Forces seems to switch from low to high depending on the situation. For example, quite often I ended up leaving a ramp, went flying through the air only to find the falling arc is not what you expect, as if gravity is much lower or Sonic is somehow floating away, this also happened when attempting to jump across platforms too.

Other times it feels like gravity is higher than it should be. For example; in Sunset Heights after the rail grinding section if you turn back the other way, there are 3 platforms to reach a red ring. The jumps here do not feel natural, Sonic feels heavy at this section and failing what appears to be a set of simple platforms is quite common occurrence.

It does not feel natural to land jumps at all, most of the time you cheer when you make a difficult landing not because you estimated the jumps naturally, but because you finally figured out what kind of auto motion was being put on your character or natural circumstances have been put into place to create an artificial sense of difficulty instead of designing a naturally challenging level in which the physics remain constant throughout.

Sonic’s acceleration also has a problem… the following diagram illustrates Sonic’s acceleration speed if you just hold the ‘left/right button’ in Sonic Mania.

See how there is a constant acceleration until top speed is reached? Unless you go down a hill or get a power up, it’s a constant rate.

Here is how it works in Forces.

For some reason, and this is very noticeable at the start of Sunset Heights since you cannot boost at the start of that stage, Sonic begins to gain speed at a rate you expect, but the moment his animation changes there is a sudden and dramatic increased in speed, not a natural acceleration speed, this happens on two different occasions until max speed is reached.

It doesn’t feel right, it makes Sonic harder to control and it feels as if Sonic is on ice as he lurches to the left or right from the sudden acceleration. The moment you hit the higher speed bands, you suddenly lose control of Sonic and he weirs off to the left or right.

The issue of scripting and automated segments come into play here too, there is a lot of automated and scripted segments which force Sonic along a specific part of the route, otherwise when these are not enabled, Sonic hugs the left or right wall even when boosting no matter how hard you try to make him move towards the centre.

The only time this doesn’t happen and Sonic remains in the centre is during scripted or automated segments where the game itself is keeping you in the centre (The start of the Tag-Team stage does this), or if the game has a cut scene or something which puts you in the centre and you remain there unless you move (the Double Boost sequence).

Modern Level Design

Sunset Heights level design is as basic as you can possibly get. The stage is incredibly linear with absolutely no real alternative pathways and very little in terms of exploration.

You may have seen that moment where Sonic grabs a zip-line and swings through a building and grabs a red ring, below him is the section you take if you if you don’t take that zip-line? That’s about it for alternative pathways.

The only other instance of an alternative pathway comes during the camera switch to the 2D perspective section, this depends if you boost or not after you leave a ramp, do so and Sonic reaches a higher path, meaning you skip out a few badniks and a spring, it’s only a few seconds difference before the paths merge again, not a big change nor does it make for creative or inspiring level design.

Otherwise exploration in this stage is literally ‘there is a platform above me, I’ll jump on it, now the platform above that… oh there’s a red ring here.’ It’s so basic and the rewards are just red rings, no power ups, no extra lives, no rings, no destroyed statue of Fang, it’s just for red rings.

In many ways, the game feels like it was designed for an absolute basic player, someone new to games, or a child who has just got their first gaming system. There is nothing challenging or insightful here, the game forces you to go forward at all times, be it through boost pads, automated segments or being practically forced to use the boost in order to progress.

The level design also employs automated and scripted sections to guarantee a player ends up where the developers want you to go, over where you want to go or where your ability should take you.

For instance, use the boost as you approach a ramp, even for a split second and you’ll definitely make it to a higher platform. Don’t use it and you’ll fail each time regardless as to if you were at top non boost speed or not. They key to making it is if you were at ‘boost speed’ or not.

On other occasions, control is completely taken out of your hands to ensure you go in the right direction or to complete difficult jumps for those cinematic like moments where you fly over a huge chasm. Other times it’s just bizarre choices; during both the modern and avatar stages, control is completely taken away to ensure you actually finish a stage. Yes the game will actually finish the levels for you.

Level design is also poor when you factor in enemies; they are simply not a threat or an obstacle. You know how in Mania you sometimes have to time your attacks or attack an enemy in a specific way to defeat it? Here you just press the boost button; you’ll just go through them.

There is no challenge, no difficulty, no tactics and no options. It’s just ‘see the enemy, boost at the enemy’ it feels like a Fisher Price my first video game at times.

You constantly feel like you are being made to go forward, no exploration and no thought into how you do it, just hold down the boost and away you go, congratulations you just won the game.

The Homing Attack May Have Changed…

Something about the homing attack in this game feels off and I cannot place my finger on exactly what it is.

In Sonic Forces, say you have this enemy set up.

You approach enemy A and homing attack it, you then lock onto enemy C, the game will not allow you to attack enemy B. Even if you can still see it and aim for it, the moment you pass it you have to go forward.

Same if you attack B first, you must go onto C.

Now can you do A, B, C? Possibly… but I couldn’t get this to work, I tried several times in different areas of Sunset Heights and Tag Team, chaining homing attacks in Forces seems to have a problem.

Previously, if you just pushed the attack button, Sonic would auto move to the closest enemy and defeat them, or if you held the analogue stick, you could ‘aim’ Sonic at the target.

In Forces, when you jump, you must aim at an enemy using the analogue stick, or else you cannot lock onto it and perform a homing attack.

But something is off about it. It’s as if, not only do you have to be in range, but the target icon has such a high margin of failure that you must be so precise with your aim or it won’t lock onto your target. For quick chaining attacks in succession this presents a problem unless the target is almost directly in front of you so the game can auto lock, hence why I’ve never been able to perform a homing attack behind me, even if I can see the target.

In Sunset Heights, the initial enemies leading up-to the Zip-Line like segment don’t have this problem, but when you reach that wider area after the boost hill going down into the park square, it’s very noticeable and very easy to miss a target.

If this was the case in Generations, feel free to discard this section since I genially cannot remember it being there, certainly not this bad, but the homing attack definitely felt off, it felt much harder to aim and chain attacks, I can see enemies I want to target, sometimes being right next to them but I’m unable to do so. Something is wrong with it.

Controlling Classic Sonic

It’s very hard to judge this, it’s the Green Hill Zone boss fight again with a twist. There is very little to do here, but for the most part, Classic Sonic pretty much controls as he did in Generations with one key difference.

You how have to hold ‘down’ and mash the jump button to perform a super spin attack.

That’s about it, Classic Sonic has all the benefits and problems from Generations otherwise, he still feels a bit floaty at times when you jump at speed. But otherwise, it’s very hard to judge since this is a highly restricted boss fight.

He controls as you should expect him to, but it’s way too hard to judge in a level with a flat surface in which you cannot move for long periods of time and are fighting a boss which barely requires you to actually jump at him.

Classic Level Design

Again just judging the boss here… there’s nothing that can be said, it’s a flat plane for the majority of the fight. There are issues though when the level design meets the interface.

Aside from constantly being yelled at by Sonic’s friends, the radio obstructs both the boss and the player in the GHZ fight, meaning you have to guess where you are if you perform an attack at that moment.

Enter the Avatar

Sega had a number of randomly generated Avatars for you to play as, all had exactly the same abilities despite being different species, all moved the same and played the same.

The only difference in gameplay is based on the weapon you pick.

So, armed with a gun and a grapple hook, what’s the avatar like?

Controlling the Avatar

It’s pretty bad.

Considering how much has gone into marketing the Avatar as being the big thing of this game, controlling him is horrendous. He suffers from feeling sluggish, his jump distance at times feels random as does his jump height, he is not a fun character to play as and just begs the question as to why this was implemented?

There are moments where you have to jump on a platform or over a series of platforms over a bottomless pit, above you is the Giant Spider foot waiting to stomp on you, meaning you have to use precision platforming and speed to navigate this section.

The problem is the same as modern Sonic, at times the gravity feels either too strong or too weak, it’s almost dynamic depending on the section of the level, what worked in an earlier part of the stage will not work later on, even if the platform is exactly the same and the distance to it is exactly the same.

Often the Avatar will either float too far or seemingly drop like a brick despite what you do, often your momentum comes crashing to a halt as you have no choice but to stop at an edge and before basic jumps just to ensure you make it, you constantly feel like you’re fighting the physics instead of using them.

Avatar Gameplay

I feel that I have been very much mislead when it comes to the gameplay for the Avatar character, this character is nowhere near as cool or interesting as the trailers make him out to be. The main issue here is with the weapon you use and the Wisp power ability the accompanies it, your fun mileage varies greatly depending on the weapon you pick since it feels that stages have been designed with specific weapons in mind over others.

The options available to you in terms of how you progress through a level are also dictated by the weapon you use. There is a standard non power pathway, but there is also a specific one to each weapon type.

However, for the Cube Hammer power, I could not find a single use for this one. Even it’s standard attack special is completely useless, yes it takes out enemies faster than the homing attack and it gives you rings for doing so. But there’s no point to them, the levels are flooded with rings so it’s very unlikely that you will ever be pressed for finding rings.

You can only attack enemies by using weapons, you cannot jump onto them, you cannot roll/spin to attack enemies, despite the fact the avatar can roll down S-Tubes. You must use weapons or the grapple/homing attack.

Grapple Hook Gameplay

This is a contender for most pointless grapple hook in any game of all time. This is how you use it.

  • Scripted sequences which you have no control aside from QTE events.
  • Very rare occasions when there is a specific point that you can use to access a higher path or in some cases, continue with the stage, you push one button when the target indicator blinks.
  • Homing attack enemies.

That’s it. There is no free use of the grapple hook, you cannot use it to swing over pits, you cannot use it to reach higher platforms, climb vertical surfaces, or do anything interesting or fun.

Do you want to swing over those enemies? You can’t.

Do you want to climb up that wall? You can’t.

Do you want to swing through the stage? You can’t.

Do you want to use the hook to pull items towards you? You can’t.

Do you want to do anything remotely fun with it like you can do in any game that has a grapple hook? You can’t.

Early on in the stage I was running down a hill, hit a ramp and right at the peak of the jump I pressed the button to use the hook, it felt like exactly the right moment to do that and feel amazing except…! Nothing… I just fell to where the game wanted me to be.

I then find a section with a platform above a pit… can I use the grapple hook to swing over this? No… Nothing.

I can only think of one grapple hook in gaming which is even less fun to use is the grapple gun from Resident Evil 0 because it takes two inventory slots and usually requires a player to backtrack through the entire mansion to pick it up because most people discarded it after the train!

You can use the grapple hook to attack enemies, but this is completely pointless and boring. The Avatar can only destroy one enemy at a time doing, yes it can chain attack like Sonic’s homing attack, but this move is far slower and you will not want to do this as it ruins the pace of the game.

This is how Sonic’s homing attack works.

  • Jump into the air.
  • Lock onto enemy.
  • Attack enemy (zoom into it).
  • Recover/Lock onto 2nd enemy, repeat.

This process is less than a half a second long. Here is how it works for the Avatar.

  • Jump into the air
  • Lock onto enemy
  • Fire grapple hook at enemy.
  • Zoom toward enemy.
  • Kick enemy/defeat it.
  • Recover/Lock onto 2nd enemy, repeat.

This is at least half a second long, whilst that may not seem like much, when you take into account there are normally 4-5 enemies in a row, this is a slower attack by a few seconds vs just 1 which would be what happens if Sonic were in the same situation.

Whilst you press the same buttons for the Avatar as Sonic, the process to defeat just one enemy is so slow, you will eventually resort to using the guns since the pace of the game collapses and the gameplay becomes amazingly boring by using the grapple hook to attack since it’s so slow and there is no ammo/cool down for the weapons.

When the grapple hook does lock onto an enemy, the distance on it is also broken. I was able to lock onto enemies not even on the screen yet and zoom to them, even if I didn’t know they were there, it felt at times like I wasn’t playing the game but just watching stuff happen.

How to make this grapple attack more fun: Do it like Sonic 06 where if you grapple attack an enemy and kick it, it could fly into another enemy and blow it up.

Weapon Types

The game practically forces you to use weapons and there is absolutely no consequence for doing so which basically turns the game into boost 2.0 or turns on a pseudo invincibility mode.

Lightning Whip

The lightning whip attack launches the avatar forward and whips the enemies, it’s range is huge, it can easily take out 10+ enemies together on a 2D plane, in a 3D setting it’s arc is well near 180 degrees if you wiggle the analogue stick at the right time.

It’s also very broken, in 2D view mode, you can clip through enemies using this attack, but the whip won’t have impacted them as you pass through, yet they will still blow up with the others. This also happens in 3D view mode.

Flame Thrower

The flame thrower is also broken. You can hold down the attack for the entire level, there is no consequence to doing so, the range on this thing is somewhere between 1 quarter to half the screen and every enemies dies the moment they get struck by it.

There is no fuel for this gun or cool down time, so holding it down you effectively turn on an endless boost mode that only turns off if you jump and you can then activate it again.

Cube Hammer

This weapon isn’t broken… just boring. There is absolutely no reason at all to use this unless you are going for a 100% stage completion.

This was the last weapon I used when testing the characters, so after beating this stage with the fire and lightning weapon I was very familiar with the stage.

I was forced to take the standard path in the pyramid section; the attack from the hammer was so boring and repetitive that I quit the stage because it was that dull. It’s by far the most dull weapon, in the Avatar stage I could not find it’s accompanying wisp power nor a unique use for it. In the Tag Team section, there was one Wisp power up for it, but I couldn’t find where I was to use it.

Wisp Powers

Each Avatar can be equipped with a weapon, a Lightning Whip, a Flame Thrower, a Cube Hammer (turns enemies into an Ice Cube).

Each weapon can be super charged with a specific Wisp.

But here is the catch; if you have the Lightning Whip and you pick up a Red Wisp… it does nothing. You need to find a Yellow Wisp. Same goes for the other weapons.

How much fun you have on a stage radically differs to the weapon type you use. Here is what they do.

Flame/Burst: Launches your character up into the air, in 3D mode you can move in all directions.

Lightning: It becomes the Light Speed Dash or Light Speed Attack, only you must hold down the activation button to maintain it.

Cube: Creates blocks that you can climb on.

Personally, I found the burst the most fun, the reason being is that you at least feel like you are playing the game and making some progress. You choose when to activate it, you choose the direction you want to go in, you need to time the bursts in order to reach your target.

The light dash is cool to look at, until you realise it’s another automated attack which can go on for several seconds in some stages. In the Tag Team stage, you can clear the entire pyramid by doing only this attack and one homing attack section.

The Cube, if the demo had any moments that you could actually use this I’d be more than willing to comment on it. Right now it’s completely useless.

Artificial Replay Value

So you might now be thinking… why not just use the one you find the most fun? Well… there’s a catch to that.

If you want to get 100% of the collectables, you must replay the Avatar & Tag Team stages using different weapons! Even if you master a stage with one weapon, the game forces you to replay using another weapon.

Take the Avatar Green Hill Zone. Using the burst enables you to get to the very top of the stage and you can find a red ring, but from what I can see, it’s impossible to do this as the Lightning or Cube, they cannot make that distance and the level design doesn’t allow you to get there through any normal means.

Later in the stage a bridge collapses over a bottomless pit. There is a number of rings here and a red ring. I was only able to get this ring if I used the Lightning Wisp power. It might be possible with the burst if you save it and the cube… if they add cube wisps to this stage!

The Tag Team level has the same problem, the lightning special allows you to collect one red ring, but you have to go through the slower/normal route to get at least an additional two.

Tag-Team Gameplay

The above video is of myself playing through the Tag-Team section, it includes an analysis which helps compliment the issues I raise in this section.

Changing things up from tradition, Sonic and the Avatar team up to take on a level, that’s the idea, here is how it works.

You start off as Sonic locked into a scripted/automated section in which your options are to either use the boost button or the slower homing attack to defeat a few enemies… you hit a ramp, the Avatar then has the option to grapple swing to a higher platform.

That is the extent of the complexity of tag-team.

  • There is no switch in/switch out.
  • There is no choice to make a character active or primary.
  • The game auto decides which character is the primary character.

For example, outside the pyramid, the player is practically forced to use, long straight corridors, boost wisps and speed ramps practically force you to use his abilities. Only once does the Avatar have the option to use his grapple attack, this move is tied to the jump button, meaning Sonic could have and has done a similar move using his homing attack and has done this exact ranged jump before (Generations/Chemical Plant Zone).

Inside the pyramid, it’s another story, you are practically forced to use the Avatars powers, grapple hook jumps to move to the next cog, to then instantly become surrounded by enemies, use the weapon (it’s faster than the homing attack by a long way) to defeat enemies or else you cannot progress through the stage.

Given how you cannot set a character as being active or primary results in some strange behaviour. Despite being on very restrictive circular platforms, Sonic can still use the boost meaning you can fly off the stage even though you’re under the impression that you are using the Avatar as a primary character.

There is nothing that suggests a symbiotic relationship in the tag team mode, not even a partial one, it’s literally “Here is the Sonic part, here is the Avatar part, here is the Sonic part.”

What’s the difference? One is boost to win; the other is use the weapon and wiggle the analogue stick to aim.

The following video is of myself playing through the tag team section of the game, I used the lightning wisp to show you the fastest way through, you can see in the video most of the issues I wrote about here.

When you watch it, it looks cool. But to play; it’s amazingly simplistic and dull.

Edit: Just as I was going to press, according to the Tokyo Game Show livestream, you can switch in and switch out Sonic/Avatar as the ‘leader’ but based on the stage I played there is no point in doing so, the stages seem to be clearly designed for ‘this is the Sonic part, this is the Avatar part.

Tag-Team Level Design

As I said before… it’s literally ‘This is the Sonic Segment, this is the Avatar Segment’ there is nothing clever here which means you’ll use both their abilities in harmony, it’s essentially two levels stuck together with tape.

The design is so basic it’s hardly worth reporting on, the initial Sonic section has a few higher paths, but they’re simple to get to, your options are literally ‘use the boost, or the slower homing attack’.

If you have seen official playthroughs of the interior of the pyramid, the impression you get is that there are loads of pathways, that you can jump on different cogs to progress… You cannot.

If you take the basic non wisp power pathway, you follow a strict route, each instance is the same dull gameplay.

  • Jump on a cog.
  • Defeat enemies
  • Jump on next cog
  • Repeat

The Lightning Wisp power allows you to bypass this, but again, you are effectively holding down one button to do so, it looks cool, but it’s boring to play.

The Burst Wisp power allows you to bypass the cogs, it’s much more enjoyable than the lightning, but only because you actually feel like you’re finally doing something and having control over your game in a non scripted or automated segment.

The Pyramid section is full of automated sections through the use of the grapple hook, you do not decide where it takes you, the second ends with a boost pad sequence and loads of rings, so even if you did badly you’ll still get a ring bonus.

Another really odd design choice was the very end, when you fall into the bomb room, I took my hands off the controller because I wanted to see what was behind me when I landed, but Sonic and the Avatar automatically ran forward and finished the level without my input.

Double Boost Is Pointless

This Double Boost move… You hammer the button to do a fist bump within a time limit and off you go!

Ever wonder what happens if you don’t do that? Do you get less boost power? Do you fail the segment?

What happens? …Virtually nothing.

My partner tried this before me and she mashed the button, succeeded and the double boost section began.

When it was my turn I said “I’m going to deliberately fail this, I want to see what happens!”

What happened made us both laugh, Sonic and the avatar fist bumped, Sonic yelled ‘Double Boost’ they stumbled a little, but that was it. I got the exact same double boost power and the segment played out exactly as it did for someone who bothers to do it.

You do not even need to move the characters or touch the controller in order to complete the stage, predating this section is a scripted section which lasts for 5 seconds, you then enter the double boost section which lasts for another 25 seconds before you regain control in the pyramid free fall.

So for 30 seconds you are not playing the stage, it’s virtually completely automated.

The only difference I could see was that you don’t get a point bonus if you fail the fist bump, but it’s still possible to get an S rank even if you fail this section!

During the double boost even though you have the ability to move left and right during it, there is no point in doing so since the game immediately centres you on the pathway, you might as well stay there since you’ll still hit all but maybe 3 enemies only this time you’ll collect all the rings at the end of the segment.

You are literally rewarded for doing nothing!

Overall Gameplay Thoughts

This is one of the most scripted and automated Sonic games I’ve seen. I want to actually be able to play a Sonic game, not watch an automated or scripted section. I want a Sonic game where I’m not just sat there waiting to turn off the boost button or push jump at the right time and that’s the extent of my decisions.

Modern Sonic still has all the problems he previously did; it’s still boost to win, only now the homing attack seems to be a little broken.

Classic Sonic controls exactly like he did and you’d expect, nothing else to really report until we can finally get a level to play instead of an easy boss fight.

The biggest disappointment comes from the Avatar. Aside from being sluggish to control, his one unique selling point is barely used, all the weapons are fantastically over powered, the Wisp special attacks are either boring or appear to do nothing.

Other universal issues are just baffling, there seems to be a lack of shadows under the characters at times, which means that it’s very hard to see if you are directly over a platform or not during platforming segments, this is basic game design for 3D games which has been around since the days of the N64, why is it not here in Forces?

Characters jumps can either be floaty or their arcs cut shorter than you feel they should be.

Overall Level Design Thoughts

The level design is poor, it feels like it’s just recycled parts from previous games masquerading as something new.

It’s like running through a movie back lot and seeing all the old scenes that we’ve seen before in movies past, here is that platforming segment, here is that free fall segment, here is that boost segment, here is the chase segment. Done it all before, it’s boring now.

How does this happen? Especially with the debut of a ‘new’ character with ‘new’ gameplay. Here we go playing the Avatar stage, a new idea with a new gameplay mechanic; instead it’s just pound shop Modern Sonic. The first boss for this character is literally a QTE chase sequence which involves the quick step.

You know, I think we’ve played this boss before… wasn’t this done in Unleashed, Generations, 06 and Rise of Lyric?

Hang on, we have a character here with a grapple hook fighting a giant spider, why is this boss not an open area in which you have to use the hook to grapple onto the Spider Bossswing between its legs as it tries to grab at you, climb onto the top of it and use your weapon to try and break parts off it or open it’s head to rip out its circuits. The boss battle ends with the robot crashing down, you leap off it as it explodes and pull a victory pose.

That would be fun!

That would be giving me something to do! Instead I’m watching a chase sequence which is feels lifted and recycled from Sonic Unleashed that ends with a QTE. And at the time I forgot to check if failing that sequence results in a death or if it’s just a point bonus since you still win if you fail the double boost so why not here too?

Here is our Modern Sonic stage, it’s another linear corridor/path like level, here are our enemies which do not present a challenge, your options are boost through them or use the slower homing attack. You don’t need to think, you don’t need to react, just hold the boost button and you’ll do it, maybe press jump on occasion.

If you are wondering about the length of the stages? Based on the fact the demo levels let you find all the red star rings, they really are between 60 and 90 seconds long, with up-to 30 seconds of automated segments in some stages.

You want to explore the stage? You want to go back, tough, there’s boosters everywhere to force you in one direction, only now we don’t even allow you to go back to attack enemies with a homing attack.

There is something wrong with a level when you can hold down 1 button and either boost or fly over the entire thing and still come out with an S Rank. It’s catastrophically wrong when on my estimation when you can beat the Tag-Team stage in under 1:30 get away with only 10 presses of the controller buttons, collect nearly 700 rings and still get an S rank after only two playthrough’s of the stage!

There are also some perspective problems with some objects, take a look at this part of the Avatar Green Hill.

At this section of the stage, below you is a bottomless pit, you have to use these platforms to get past it (unless you have a yellow wisp power). Due to the positioning of this platform, it lines up perfectly with that checkered wall. It looks like it’s a wall preventing you from progressing… but it’s not!

I saw other players get very confused here, even I made an error the first time I encountered this part of the stage. Some players tried to use the weapon to break through the wall, I saw others trying to jump left (blue arrow) to what looks like a ledge, others just stopped and were killed by the spiders foot because they had no idea that you can just walk right off the block, because it looks like a solid barrier when you actually sit down and play it.

The Nintendo Switch Version…

…Is absolutely atrocious in it’s current state.

The Switch version was so poor when critiqued both as a stand alone product and directly to the PS4 and Xbox One version I question why it has been let out into the public demo space in it’s current state.

It was not just the worst of performing Sonic title, out of all the Switch games I played at the entire convention, it was the worst performing game of the lot.

The loading times on the Switch version are long, much longer than all other counterparts, which is to be expected since it’s running off a cart and not a hard drive but still, the difference in time is not just the odd one or two seconds, we’re talking around 5-10 seconds of extra time waiting at loading screens in some cases.

Technically, the Switch version is ugly, both graphically and in terms of performance. Graphically, the low res textures are poor, the comments from E3 and Gamescom are not an exaggeration, it really does look like an early PS2 era game, it’s an ugly horse. Blurry low quality textures in a ruined city blur together in a brown bury mess add onto of that a blur filter when boosting, it’s hideous to look at.

Even when not using the boost, it’s hideous.

Frame rate is also a problem, whilst there is no way I can accurately measure it in a demo pod, it’s certainly no better than 30fps, I was also sure that I saw some drops during Sunset Heights.

This might explain one of the worst offenders in the Switch version, the controls are much poorer across all characters compared to their rival system counterparts.

Platforming becomes much harder, precision jumping is much harder and frustrating, even basic things like the homing attack become a problem. Remember how I mentioned that the homing attack seems to have altered slightly? Combine that with the lower performance of the Switch and homing attacks become an utter mess.

There was also some noticeable input lag during certain levels which becomes a nightmare for avoiding hazards and bottomless pits and chaining the homing attack.

Based on what I have played, there is absolutely nothing positive to say about the Switch version of Forces at all, it’s not fit for purpose in any respect.

There was no portable version available to play anywhere in the convention, Nintendo had a booth but I did not see Forces anywhere in it. They did however have Mania.

The Switch version also lacked the Tag Team stages, which adds more questions as to the Switch versions current quality and performance.

It’s extremely concerning to be nearly 2 months away from release and seeing the Switch version at a public demo in the state its currently in missing an entire level/gameplay mode and yet it’s currently at a much higher price point worldwide.

Final Thoughts

Based on the demo I played…

If you have already played any Sonic game since Sonic 06, you have already played this game, there is nothing new or interesting here, it’s the same old level design which if you can believe it feels even more tired than it previously did.

If this is your first Sonic game, it’s going to feel amazing and new because to you it is new.

It’s a highly automated game which results in dull automated and scripted gameplay, the player is limited in what they can do and is forced to proceed in one direction through automated moments and deliberate design choices.

I’ve been waiting since 2011 to play a new 3D Sonic game on a system that I own, I think I’m still waiting.

Positives:
+ Music is pretty good.
+ PS4/Xbox One versions are technically fine.
+ Sonic’s animations when you S Rank a stage are really good.
+ Very accessible experience, no high difficulty/experience level required.
+ Low price point.

Negatives:
– Level Design is poor, feels recycled from previous games, stages are painfully short.
– Avatar gameplay lacks ambition & potential.
– Modern Sonic still suffers from decade old problems.
– Switch version is currently abysmal.
– The most automated/scripted Sonic game in years, makes the gameplay feel boring.

Fun Fact I Learnt: The Green Wolf Avatar is actually female. You can tell by the noise it makes when you perform the stomp move.

132 Comments

  1. Hm… Seems like this game may have overhyped itself a bit. Hopefully, the full game’s levels will have better designs, but my opinion on this game so far still remains at “meh”.

  2. Dude, I hate to be a downer on your article as you obviously put a lot of effort into it…but you NEED to shorten it. You’re basically saying “this game sucks, I don’t like it and this is why you should too in 89 different ways!” and putting in a bunch of charts nobody but the hardcore will be interested in. Just sum up your gameplay experience, give the pros and cons like you did at the bottom and you’ll be there. Right now though, all I see is a wall of text of negativity.

    1. For you.

      “This game is a somewhere between a poor and painfully average experience. The Switch version is a disaster”

      There you go.

      1. Hogfather, your article is a complete circular argument around boost gameplay. Stop ranting about the same thing in a many different permutations. We get it–you don’t like boost gameplay and so this gameplay is not for you. 40 occurrences of the word “boost” and your statement that the game “has the same control problems which have plagued the boost era since Unleashed” show your bias. Frankly, this is a disservice to the fan base and an embarrassment to a site as well-known and prestigious as TSS. This is coming from someone who has been wanting Sonic Adventure-style gameplay to return for years, but I appreciate and even love what I am seeing here in Sonic Forces. Have someone else write and/or pull the article until you can clear your mind and see what you actually wrote in hindsight.

          1. Your article is great, I liked it. Your points of criticism seem valid and thoughtfully explained. If people don’t like it, I guess they should find a way to play the demo and write their own article.

          2. I think that you have made some very interesting observations – the way picking up speed works, the way homing attacks work, how short the levels are… But all your complaints about “boost2win” basically say the same thing – that the game plays like Unleashed, Colors and Generations did, in that aspect. I think that simply saying this (and adding that you don’t like it) would’ve been more concise and interesting than going on and on about why boost gameplay is bad. It looks like you just copy-pasted something you’d have already said about Generations, and Colors, and Unleashed.

            On another note, did you check if Classic Sonic has the drop dash? No one has been talking about it…

          3. If nobody is talking about the drop dash, I would imagine it’s the same reason I’ve not.

            I completely forgot it was in the game and Segas documentation for the demo didn’t even mention it.

          4. Your article is awesome! It’s very admirable that you took your time and wrote an expansive review over a resumed one, because it is definitely better that way. And your work to be specific and explanatory is well apreciated.

        1. The man has an opinion and he has the right to share it. If you disagree that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t allowed to write what he thinks because you think otherwise.

      2. Actually, the article is really great and details exactly what you feel is wrong with the game. If I were a game developer (I am, but not on Sonic Team) I would love this kind of critique.

    2. The article is perfectly fine; it’s sectionised and, if it has to repeat a point, it does so only if necessary.
      Honestly I’d rather read a detailed report of what the game’s like rather than the pros-cons at the end. This kind of mentality is what’s poisoning game reviews since people just worship the score at the end, or the bottom line, not really caring about the specifics to know what the game is actually like but rather just want to know if this person liked it or not.

  3. Great article! Thank you for such detailed insight into Forces strengths and weaknesses! Especially the switch version!

    But the article is sorta awkward to read. Specifically I’m referring to how you italicize certain words. Is there a reason for that?

    1. You know… I have no idea, it seems to be a convention that a lot of writers have online, especially blog type sites.

      You are usually encouraged to do it for names of things…. I don’t understand why either since I’ve never written for any other media which does that.

      1. It’s a convention used to highlight the names of titles (for games, books, movies). So for instance, if you are talking about the game Sonic 1, the title gets italicized. If you refer back to it and just call it “Sonic” you keep that italicized. This helps keep it from being confusing when you talk about Sonic the character.

  4. The very first trailer for this game was interesting, a bit rough around the edges in terms of background textures, but interesting regardless. The quality clearly hasn’t improved and the decisions are baffling. I’m interested in seeing Metal Sonic and Chaos again but I know I’m going to be disappointed.

    Not really digging the music, might change when I play it but it’s currently making me cringe like “We Can” did.

    I’m still going to buy it day one, but I don’t understand how Sonic Team have stepped back once again in terms of basic game design. Thank god for Mania or I would’ve completely stopped enjoying this series, I was struggling after LW and Boom.

  5. Didn’t Sega said that make a demo was hard becaused the game wasn’t ready? Maybe-I hope so-this demo comes out from a very early version of the game, and the why of all this problems is because the only change that they did-ignorind the little grafic improveds in the ps4/xone versions-is inclusion of the tag team stage from the same early version. That’s also would explain why the switch version-the one with the most problems-is so bad, they had to re-script the game to let the switch run it meaning this version is even early than the other ones. But that only count for the gameplay sphysics of the game, the level design still trash but-like the gameplay-can be improved in later version of the game.

  6. It’s a shame to hear all that honestly, was listening to some clearer versions of the music tracks in the game earlier thinking I might really enjoy this, not so sure now. Such a weird feeling fighting a losing battle, I think well of the majority of 3D boost titles despite all the criticisms but maybe people are right and it’s just a hard formula to get right or just very limiting. I’ll get the game out of habit and in the hopes that most issues are cleared up in the final build (I don’t think the demo’s been updated since the first footage earlier this year aside from the extra stages) but who knows.

    Thanks for letting us know Hogfather, I guess Mania’s still good enough for most though.

  7. At first glance, this really seems like a rant on Boost gameplay. But I know you went about more things than that.

    I’m hoping the rest of the levels will be more interesting, considering we’ve still only seen GH and Sunset Heights.

    But if this game is as bad as your impression makes it out to be, then reviews will thrash this game. Maybe if it gets a low score Iizuka will retract his statement how SA3 is back tracking the series, but Boost is advancing it…lol.

    1. I know it’ll take a miracle for him to actually see that, but hey…

      Nothing’s impossible. The Boost just isn’t getting us anywhere. He has to at least somewhat have a good idea of that by now.

  8. This might truly be one of those rare cases in over 10 years where someone like me who loves the characters saying things and the story might find the most to love out of this one.

    It’s kind of baffling why they can’t pay attention to both.

  9. This might truly be one of those rare cases in over 10 years where someone like me who loves the characters saying things and the story elements might find the most to love out of this one.

    It’s kind of baffling why they can’t pay attention to both gameplay and story at the same time. This one or the other nonsense is bothering me.

  10. It’s just a demo version, maybe you’ll change your mind once it finally launches. Cut Sega some slack, they really gave it their all.

    1. Unfortunately no. Games are not a school project, the developers don’t get a gold star just because they showed up and tried really hard.

    2. It’s less than two months away.

      They’ve had about four or five years to make this game and we know they can make major level design edits within a few weeks.

      Mania was exactly as good as a demo one year earlier as it is as the final product.

      There’s no excuse.

  11. What a pessimistic commentary. You just don’t like any modern Sonic game, that’s the problem… this is a very bad view without much judgment, sorry.

      1. Honestly I know it’s your opinion but I disagree I think the game will be good and I’ve been playing sonic for years I think it’s just hard to get used some of the style of gameplay specifically the avatar stages I mean think of it like playing shadows the hedgehog with modern gameplay

        1. If you think it’ll be good, that’s fine. But I can’t agree with that, based on what I’ve played it’s really not that great, for the reasons stated.

          Yeah you’ve been playing games for years… so have I? I’ve become quite good at adapting to new controls schemes as I imagine you probably have? The issue here is not getting used to a new control scheme, the issue here is that the character does not behave in the manner you would expect him too given the physical nature of the world he’s interacting in.

    1. You know what, this is getting real annoying now. Why is it that every time someone looks at a modern sonic game thru a critical lens and the first reaction is to say “you’re pessimistic” or “you’re just being negative”? Modern fans really need to get over themselves.

      1. Well I can see why, there are people who literally have a high opinion on the classic style stuff(even more now due to a certain official fan project) that even when it is seem as a improvement in gameplay by people at large it is outright hated by these individuals so yes there are people who literally rage about the modern style when they are faults with gameplay in classic too but nobody dares calls it out. Again not even one but they are out there and on this site too.

  12. This apparent state of the game is very confusing to me. Not only is this developed by the same team as Colours and Generations, but it’s been in development for at least 3-4 years. Given this, I find it almost hard to belive the game is as you describe. Not that I’m doubting you of course, you have played the game, and on all versions no less, but it just seems… odd.

    1. Where the hell are people getting 3-4 years of development?
      Is it some sort of magic number people invented since Lost World came out 4 years ago?

  13. Hmm, I wonder how many times the word forced was in this article? I am too lazy to cunt them myself so if someone feels up to it please tell me! XD

  14. That was long… And I appreciate that.

    It was a pain to read, because by the 3rd paragraph I thought it couldn’t suck more… and you managed to prove me wrong with each paragraph that came after.

    By the article’s end, I’ve lost all my faith in Sonic Team and Takashi Iizuka. I now feel stupid for allowing myself to give this game a chance. I feel like a cartoony “sucker” sign just appeared over my face.

    And this is for a game that I was still on the fence about.

    Once again, thank you for going as in-depth as you did. You even covered the more technical aspects which gave me a broader idea of what I would have experienced.
    Now I think I’ll just watch this game off Youtube.
    Thanks for saving me time and money. And especially, that’s one less Switch game to look forward to.

    TBH now Lost World sounds like a lot more fun than this.

      1. To be fair, Generations was also $40 at launch. But I had no excitement for this game at all, now imagine what I think after reading this article.

        1. Really? I don’t remember but I think I paid a lot more than $40 for Generations since the Swedish currency is different. I have preordered Forces PS4 version and it cost in Swedish currency 428 and that if I change it to Dollar currency 53,81 Let see in British pound it is 39,62 and in Euro currency 44,91. Man ain’t I am lucky that I get to pay more than others since I live in the wrong country. XD

          1. I still have the receipt for Generations to but it is somewhere with all the other receipt and important papers and I am too lazy to look true it all to find it! XD

  15. I wish they would stop using Boost Sonic gameplay already. It was fun in Colors and Generations but they need to move on or at least improve it. It’s insanely repetitive at this point.

    Classic Sonic plays the same as he does in Generations too. Shocking. This game feels more like a really late DLC expansion of Generations instead of a sequel to it or a new game.

    I don’t expect Forces to be perfect, but it should actually feel like an improvement over a game that released 6 years ago.

  16. So basically the game is trash. Can’t say I’m surprised. Fistbump? More like steaming fistdump.

    So glad for Mania, with the state Sonic’s been in the last few years I’d really given up on the whole series. At least Mania tries its best to breathe life back into this rotting series. Guys really need to just scrap their whole team and let the guys who handled Mania show them how its done and run everything.

  17. Dude, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s still the same fucking demo that we’ve seen at SDCC. Plus, I repeat, it’s a fucking Demo! So of course you might run into some bugs and shit like that and of course SEGA/Sonic Team is listening in on the reviews from the Demo that people played and are making everything better.

    Besides, we got 2 months left for the game to come out and that Demo you just played came out a month or 2 ago. So just be cool until the final version comes out

        1. That’s bad advertisement. Showing off a few crappy tutorial Stages and hading all of the good stuff is a good way to alienate your audience.

          1. You know when the first trailer for a film releases there’s a tendency to skip on details. This vary’s depending on the film of course but they don’t want to reveal the best they have to offer because many man hours go into making the product and you want viewers to see your hard work later on, at least that seems to be the case for some movies. Other films with big budgets that know exactly what they intend to be i.e most action films show the best set pieces off first cause both the would be audience and the film-makers know exactly what they’re going for.

            Remember when Sonic Mania was first announced we were shown two stages, green hill and studiopolis, that was it. It was almost a full fledged year before we saw the next few in the pre order trailer which even then had a few more stages (Flying battery, stardust speedway and mirage saloon) but more of what we’d seen before, then the launch trailer (lava reef, chemical plant and press garden) including the special stages. Sans special stages that’s eight of what I think (got this from the wikia guys) is thirteen stages. The only criticism I ever read about those trailers and the gameplay videos is that they show off too much before release.

            Now there’s Forces. I have no idea how many stages are in that game but we’ve seen a total of 6 stages across two (three counting the eggman bases) areas. Each of which has to my knowledge been represented on the same demo build. I don’t know what state the game will release in but I’d be hard pressed to think that after what is apparently 4 years in development that they’ve got nothing left to give. Most of what we saw of Mania was in the final one or two months leading up to its release, I see no reason why Forces would be any different. Still, much like Hogfather has mentioned, his impressions are based off a demo build, this is more than likely subject to change but based on this build these are his thoughts. I’m not really surprised all we’ve seen is early stages but based on recent trailers and images, it would seem there’s a whole lot more. For the time being however, I would say that in regards to the build we have, gameplay seems a bit poor.

            Remember the audience for this game is those who enjoy the boost titles from 2008 onwards. From what I’m seeing the story is attracting adventure fans and gameplay works for boost fans. Again, for a demo that aside from it’s stages hasn’t had any updates, it could do with a lot more refinement. I think things are subject to change however based on player feedback. At best I’d say expect to see more over the space of the next month if you are worried about the game. Not a rant or anything just another viewpoint, let me know if there’s any errors or it’s not well explained.

    1. That’s exactly what you might have said when Boom was showcased at E3: “It’s a demo, of course it’s unfinished! Wait to the final product”

      Then the hype crashed.

  18. I sensed mixed reception for this game.

    what we see is mostly likely the finished product, its out soon and Sonic Team have added way too much into the product to have time to fix anything.

    Sonic Mania was an amazing experience, i never felt so much joy on Sonic in years and while I enjoyed Lost world, it wasnt amazing or mind blowing compared to Mania.

  19. The game is going to be average at best, it’s not going to be the experience us die-hard Sonic fans hoped for. I was skeptical the moment they announced Project 2017. When they showed the teaser trailer for the first time, something about it just didn’t look polished or as hype, as you would expect a trailer from a game 3-4 years in development.

    So reading this entire review of the demo doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve been pretty critical of everything they ‘ve shown so far. The game honestly feels like it went through development hell where tons of shit gets scrapped in the process. Their goal now is just to get this out as smooth as possible without causing another 06.

    I think SEGA is going to need to consider finding new options because the current team seems to lack the ability or passion they had before. You think after fuck up, after fuck up SEGA would say “You’re fired!” But no they keep allowing them to make the same broken game after the next.

    Sonic is an Iconic character which is why we still stick by him even through all the bad games Sonic Team released over the years. Could you imagine if SEGA hired actual good devs that could find the perfect gameplay style that was fun and inspiring to play? Imagine how far this Iconic character would go. It’s a huge shame honestly cause Sonic is seen more as a meme nowadays rather than what he was in his glory days.

    All I can do is hope that the next game will be exciting just like Mania was. I know for fact Sonic Forces won’t be that game.

  20. Disagree with this entirely from my experience sounds pretty overall bad which doesn’t apply to me not a surprise given the place its from…..

  21. I think the game’s gonna be good. The same team that did Sonic Colors and Generations is working on it and they’re pretty consistent with their style and quality.

    One thing to note is that the team mentioned it’s design philosophy back when Generations was coming out–saying that they build stages with “high, low, and middle” paths. It just doesn’t make sense that they would release a completely linear experience after that.

    It DOES, however, make sense if the demos were from pre-alpha builds of the game, though. If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Sonic Forces being made on an entirely new game engine while Sonic Mania was made on an engine that was already complete? If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised if what we see from Forces when it comes out is a bit more fleshed out.

    Also, it looks like they went with making those short stages that they did in Colors. Those short bursts contained a lot of “linear” paths but that game was heralded as being the best Sonic game in decades at the time just like Mania is now. And just like in Colors, there’s probably a lot more to Sunset heights once you clear that short stretch there.

    I’m not worried.

    – LB

  22. So you demoed the exact same demo as what has already been out, and then write a review as if it is a full game?

    This is why I don’t like reviews.

    I’ll try this for myself.

    1. Preview.

      Also if you don’t like the content I can’t do much about that since that’s the product I played and that was the impression I got from it.

  23. While I disagree with your opinion, that’s just it. It’s your opinion. I do think the game will be better, but again, that’s my opinion, not yours. Simple as that.

  24. Hmm… nice detailed article.
    I’m very excited for Sonic Forces! In my opinion, this looks to be the best modern Sonic game since 2011! I can’t wait to play this on the Switch! 😀

  25. I think I need to take a long break from future sonic media, wait until taxman/padoga/headcanon make another winner.

    I’ve tolerated a lot of crap from sega, even liked some of that crap but one thing that kept me optimistic was the archie sonic comics and that’s dead now. Yeah, great that IDW has Sonic now but unlike a lot of people I like the FFs, the AoSTH/SATam and post-reboot characters and sega most likely won’t have any of that or idw will do their own thing. Not tolerating another middle finger.

    The boom cartoon is still boring. Season 2 is better but don’t get why everyone thinks its better than the previous cartoons. Forces, knew it was going to be shit, not 06 or boom shit but still shit from the first gameplay preview.

    sunset heights looks like they recycled generations city escape and rooftop run. I don’t mind Forces actually being Generations 2 but only if they bring back different past levels; not remix old generations assets.

    Yup. Gonna wait until the next Mania (unless IDW gives me a good surprise).

  26. This was a very depressing read in all honesty… To hear it’s STILL so bad this close in, I’m not optimistic in the least. Even if the story winds up being fantastic, the music being the greatest, if the game is not fun to play, boring, and actually plays itself, it’d be better if they just made this a visual novel. Fans can make a better game, HAL Labs and SORA have a better idea of what to do with Sonic, and I’m betting a bunch of trained monkeys can do a better job than Sonic Team.

    For those trying to defend ST, consider this, all it takes is a few simple lines of code to lock away the majority of the game. That’s it. Sonic Team’s excuse doesn’t fly in this day and age. Especially when you have 3-4 years of development time. Nintendo can work on a game for that long, and when they deem it presentable, it’s in a near final form, and it’s fantastic, usually. (Star Fox Zero stands as a notable sore thumb, but then, it was developed by Platinum, though they usually make great games themselves. But, you can count bull headedness by Shigeru Miyamoto for SFZ’s failure with trying to be innovative and not make just another Star Fox when the number of games there are in SF don’t even make that a qualifying reason. Which, funny enough, seems to be the trend here with Takashi Iizuka… Just so happens that outside of Classic Sonic in the right hands, no one seems to know how to make a good “Just Another Sonic.”) Yet, when Sonic Team even THINKS what Hog Father played is presentable, I think we can safely assume they need to retire. Were this a Mario game, it would have been scrapped, and we would wait a full ten years or more for another entry. Nintendo would also have made sure heads would have rolled. (Considering Sonic is Sega’s Mario, that’s saying something.) But at least with a Mario game, rare as the expansive titles may be(2D titles are a dime a dozen these days, though they are of excellent quality themselves), we know we’re going to get a good game out of it. Heck, even the Mario & Sonic games have been good. They’re run into the ground by now, but at least we don’t have to be worried about being disappointed with the quality.

    While the Classic series is in good hands with Mania’s team, should Sega continue to utilize their talent for spiritual sequels to Mania, the modern series needs a proper identity. It also needs people who will not settle for being “just good enough.” It needs to evolve, it needs a fun and engaging play style, and it desperately needs confidence once it finds a working formula and stick to it, while then leaving experimentation to a spin-off series, like Boom or something. Something I don’t believe Sonic Team, as it is, is capable of being and doing anymore.

  27. Fans: Hey, you guys should make Sonic Adventure 3.

    Iizuka: Hell no; that would set us backwards. What we should do is make the same thing as we’ve been making since 2008. Now THAT’S real progress!

  28. Oh man, I was wondering why people were pretty concerned over this article, seeing some issues with it.

    Now that I know it was done by the Hogfather, it makes a lot more sense. No need to worry, then. Forces still gon’ be good.

  29. For the Switch version, you think there may be a chance they couldn’t get a new demo build out in time, so they just reused the same demo build from E3, which is the reason it still doesn’t run that well despite only being a couple weeks from release? It could explain why the tag team stage wasn’t included in that version.

    1. Also I forgot to ask, did you notice if the victory animations were the same between the Switch version and the other versions. If you did notice differences then that could also point to the possibility that the Switch version is the same build from E3.

  30. Hey. Sonic Mania exists. Sonic can retire in peace now. Meanwhile, I won’t buy another Sonic game until Mania 2. If there is one, because this is SEGA and Sonic Team we’re talking about here. I’m still shocked they actually let Whitehead and team make the first one, let alone a second. Sonic seems to only be safe in the hands of the fans, not the shareholders. After all these years, does SEGA even care about Sonic anymore or is he just a means to a financial end? Meh. But we have Mania. That’s more than I could hope for.

  31. I read their scathing report of the gameplay but then I noticed a common trend: 40 occurrences of the word “boost”, and then the author’s name Hogfather and it all made sense. Hogfather unabashedly doesn’t like Sonic Unleashed-style games, and he states it “still has the same control problems which have plagued the boost era since Unleashed.” It is not a control problem–it’s a matter of taste and a matter of “him” problem. If he doesn’t like Boost gameplay, move on and don’t let it turn into a laborious, slanted rant in what should be a fair and balanced article representing TSS. To be brutally honest, I can read the forums for this level of lazy writing. Indeed, I personally want Adventure-style gameplay to return but I understand my biases and I really like what I am seeing here. In summary, Hogfather needs to clear his head and not let his personal biases get in the way of reviewing with as much objectivity as possible.

    1. “When no one was looking, Hogfather wrote forty boosts. He wrote forty boosts.

      That’s as many as four tens.

      I must warn reddit.”

      Edit: And nobody banned you from commenting.

  32. Jesus Christ, I had a feeling the game wasn’t going to be great but I wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. I wasn’t hyped for the game to begin with but after reading this I might not play it at all.

  33. Great article. I happened to get the chance to play the game in a booth at a convention last weekend, and I feel exactly the same way you do. It’s simply not fun to play. Saw a lot of people there trying out the game who were appearantly new to Sonic, they didn’t seem particularly impressed, either. So I’m not sure who this game is for.

    I wanted to like this game. I really did. But SEGA’s marketing stunts, the way they try to pepper the game with everything and anything except decent and fun game mechanics… it’s time to lower the expectations. Considerably.

  34. Is like 50 or 60% of the people how read this page were waiting for something like this to come out .-.
    Like I understand that this put Forces in a bad ligth but try to give some rest. If you really want to complain at Forces or to Lizuka you can write directly to Sega or maybe recomend something to improved the gameplay like some youtubers are doing, no just said “oh I was expecting this” or “this game is trash and I told you” that doesn’t help the same way coments like “you are just a pessimist” or “you just don’t like Modern Sonic”. We as a fans have the work to tell was rigth and wrong with or beloved series, if the company don’t want to heard then we have to take action, the same way Christian whitehead did and PROVED how the things are done. They don’t want to change the boost formula? Fine, we gonna find a way to do it better and how we really wanted(Green hill paradise is close but not so closed at the same time) becaused, yeah, they created the character BUT we are the ones how buy it and the ones how are up to challegend to help this franchise to rise up for good. By the mania For the mania.

  35. I feel like making the Hedgehog Engine two and porting the game to the Switch are partly why this game looks unfinished. Most of the development probably went into things like that. Looks like the game needed another year or so to be finished but maybe the developers just want it finished and out already or maybe something else. I don’t know anything about what goes into making a game so I could be completely wrong here.

  36. Well… wasn’t expecting much better. Was hoping for better but I really have just lost any hope I had for the game. Not based on this article specifically, but in general the game just does not look good.
    Honestly there have been times when I’ve looked at Sonic ’06 and was more inclined to play that. At least that game actually wants you playing it.

  37. For anyone doubting Hogfather’s credentials here, or thinking he’s ‘biased’ or anything like that… I don’t have great news for you. I played the same demo back at Gamescom, and I can’t say I disagree with any of his assessment here (I was going to write a piece post-Gamescom, but due to real-life commitments couldn’t find the time).

    Sonic Forces is wonky, and it needs some work. The Avatar-specific assessment is absolutely spot-on; for some reason Avatar plays completely different to Sonic and they are incredibly difficult and not fun at all to control. Playing Tag Team stages alleviates this a bit, as the controls lean more towards Sonic’s physics than Avatar’s.

    Level design needs a lot of work; the Tag Team stage I played had, within the pyramid, an ‘upper’ route and a ‘lower’ route. The ‘upper’ route was simply mid-air – no platforms, no unique pathways – packed with hundreds of rings and intended solely as a short-cut to avoid fighting robots on the cogs (assuming you had enough Wispon energy).

    We’re a couple months out, so it’s literally just spit-n-polish on the game now (so I wouldn’t expect any major changes to gameplay, mostly bug fixes and tweaks). I’d be surprised if Sonic Team massively re-jigged any of the issues mentioned in the article (or in this comment), but it is very welcome if they did so I’m hoping things work out okay.

    At the end of the day, this is a preview and not a review; we will of course reserve final judgement until the full game is out. But it would be a disservice to all of you, as fellow fans, if we ignored any of the issues we saw or pretended that Sonic Forces still needs work. We’re not in the business of giving Modern Sonic fans false hope, nor are we in the business of giving Classic Sonic fans ammunition to gloat.

    We want all Sonic games to be amazing and fantastic, so you can rest assured that there’s really no ‘classic bias’ or whatever going on here. And if you believe that there is ‘classic bias’ going around here, I have an exclusive animation cel of SatAM Season 5 to sell you.

    1. Then there should be the same call out on classic stuff if this feeling of modern bashing only to end. People say mania has faults but the articles and the talk about a few in between. Not saying your opinion does have some validity but I can see why this look overly bias too. Want it to not appear that way, then show some transparency on all fronts classic or modern. Call out mania faults too regardless who working behind it and their track record.

      1. You are asking us to have ‘the same [amount] of call outs on classic stuff’ as modern stuff and vice versa… this is unreasonable. For a start, Sonic Mania doesn’t have game-breaking issues that prevent it from being a very, very, very good game. So to meet your ‘quota’, we’d have to essentially make up some drama or pretend/over-inflate some issues in order to make ‘Modern fans’ feel good. That’s not how we operate. Sorry.

        Let’s flip-reverse this. We praise/d Sonic Colours and Generations, two Modern titles. We weren’t hot on Sonic 4, a Classic title. Should we give Sonic 4 less sass just because we were meaner to a classic game than we were to a modern game? No, because it wouldn’t be right (in fact it would be downright patronising to both classic and modern fans). Colours and Generations were good games, so we say as such. Sonic 4 wasn’t a great game, so we say as such. Same as with Mania (good game) and Forces (jury’s out, but it’s not looking great at the moment, honestly).

        Also, we absolutely did call out issues in Sonic Mania – we noted these in our review of the game. Please give it a read.

        The reason our concerns seem amplified for Sonic Forces, way before the game is released, is because the core issues we’re seeing are fundamental to how good/enjoyable a game objectively can be. I don’t believe that anyone will want to play Avatar stages in their current state, at all, nor will they be inspired by the level design here. On the other hand, we saw some odd glitches when playing pre-release Sonic Mania, but on the whole it didn’t break the core experience (which, as we’ve assessed, is very, very, very good) quite like what we’ve seen with Sonic Forces.

        People need to let go of the idea that there are ‘sides’ to the fanbase, and that we have an honour-bound duty to put both sides up on an equal pedestal. Enough. A good game is a good game. A bad game is a bad game. You can agree or disagree with our assessment, but to ask us to praise a game more or less based on your own personal interests is just asinine.

        1. Thats not what I am specifically asking but it seems people feel there is an attack and the source has to come from somewhere.

          And besides I remember the reviews for colors and generations I remember the praise and criticism. I am not so sure everybody else does

          1. Look all I am saying is there is a thin line between criticism and flat out bias that shows a person is just not interested, which is totally fine and I don’t even disagree. But you guys who run this site that you should already know lines have been drawn years ago what people ideals on what a good sonic game should be so when somebody who been shown a distaste for certain mechanics in games (I don’t disagree with this feeling entirely) for years even when games have been shown to approve by fans and other critics from certain website then some people are just going to see it as biased is all even if that person may be actually right this time, kinda like the boy who crys wolf sort of thing.

          2. Look, we know other people have made their bed and are willing to sleep in it re: ‘modern’ or ‘classic’ factions. That doesn’t concern me really. And if people want to call us one thing or another based on their misconceptions, that’s their prerogative. I just wanted to make clear to people who may be scanning this page that our site has a very very good (possibly the best) track record when it comes to Sonic game reviews, and our judgement is never clouded by the ‘modern’/’classic’ to and fro that some might want to engage in. We’ve been going for 17 years, we know what we’re doing. 🙂

            And you mentioned you remember our reviews from the Colours/Generations/Sonic 4 days; thanks for being a long-time reader. 🙂

        2. To be fair, Sonic Mania softlocked one 2-3 times and one of them on the final act which hurt.
          And the music cut out a lot in my first playthrough as well. It has its game breaking issues as well.

          The difference is that it’s not the controls which is the main problem with Forces here. And yes I did play it at EGX too.

          1. What version did you play Mania on? cause I never had any music cutting out.

            My first play through with Mania was perfect.

            I know I heard the PC version had issues but the PS4 version is fine.

    2. That’s what I said early, this is the same dema that every one play before, the only new things are:
      1.grafic enchance in the xone/ps4 version
      2. Tag team stage
      As you said the OC feels a little bit-not much-better in the tag team stage so maybe they are fixing the sphysics of the game. But that just my assuming things.

    3. Adding a little bit to that “this is a preview and not a review” part, they aren’t basing this on the full game. This is based on a demo that only shows part of the game, so complaints and praises here might not refelect their thoughts on the full game.

    4. I couldn’t have put it better myself. For the record, I enjoyed Sonic Adventure 1, 2, Heroes, Sonic Advance 1, 2, Sonic Rush, SR Adventure(The Chaos Emerald challenges can burn though), Colors, Generations, and I even enjoyed the Werehog portions of Unleashed if you can believe it(The QTEs in the Day stages ruined it for me, so glad that was dropped in the following games…), and I even had some fun with Shadow. Bad as it was, it still had some good points, and at least allowed, to a larger extent than Forces from what we’ve seen so far, the ability to play it the way you wanted to with what was there. I even enjoyed Sonic Riders, and thought Zero Gravity was a decent game for what it was. Sonic 06 I did enjoy, but only because I convinced myself it was good. (First Sonic game I bought for myself, there’s going to be some irrational bias.) Now I see it for what it is. I hated Black Knight, I felt like I was fighting the extremely flawed motion controls. I still hate it for this reason. Secret Rings was meh, and I didn’t think it was worth seeing it to the end when I just couldn’t figure out how to proceed on a specific level… I forgot what it was, so that says something. I also kind of enjoyed Sonic 4, but I couldn’t argue with the reasons given for why it’s not good. Funny enough, I got all the emeralds in Episode 1, but the seventh emerald in Episode 2… Great googly moogly, is that a rough one… I’d rather do the emerald challenges in Rush Adventure again than try to get the one I can’t get. And this is coming from a guy who managed to finally get all the Emeralds as Sonic and Tails in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 over 25 years after it was released.

      I like the aesthetic of Modern Sonic in all honesty. But the way the games have been handled lately is abysmal. Granted, two of the games on the list were sadly the last ones Yuji Naka worked on before leaving Sega. And I have a feeling they turned out the way they did because his role was potentially reduced further and further. Funny, the games he had the biggest hand in are considered great and classics, while the ones where he was minimally involved in ended up trash, and we’ve seen how the series has fared without him. Almost makes me wish Sega would treat Sonic the way Capcom treats Mega Man. Sure, the blue bomber isn’t getting new games, but at least his rep isn’t being tarnished because the company can’t figure out what to do. Better to have nothing than put out trash just to put out something.

  38. well I heard somewhere that they were having a hard time deciding to show off a demo at E3 because the game wasn’t close to being finished or something and the first stage is probably a tutorial stage so we can’t judge it until we know what order the stage is from they’ll probably make tweaks to the game based of feedback so I’m not worried

  39. Your arguments are good and well made, especially on the gameplay front. I worry about Modern Sonic and the Avatar, but I think I’m a little more optimistic.

    Also, the points on level design are well made, but I think it’s important to note that these are singular levels in the game. I don’t know how much you’ve really played, but it sounds like a select few.

    I’m a little concerned that the first levels aren’t all that great, because Sonic Team has been pretty consistent on having great first levels. I really liked the first level of Sonic Lost World, even though the rest of the game is sub-par.

    I’m optimistic about Forces. Maybe that’s unfounded, but I’d rather the game get bad previews and turn out to be good rather than get good previews and be bad.

  40. this is what had me so worried…. this game needs revision!
    this game is varely finished and they want to release it on november?!
    it’s insane!!
    i hope with all my soul they delay the release at least to the next year if necesary!
    🙁

  41. I was lucky to play the Demo in the E3 version of PS4 and undoubtedly take an incredible impression, was a solid and good demo, had its defects that nobody doubts, but since E3 I have seen many being pessimistic with Forces, we each have different impressions, many like, and others not possibly because they expected something more complex, but in any case I just say do not pay attention to what pages say about Forces, whether good or bad impressions, everyone must have their own impression of the game and not be carried away by people for whom the Demo did not like and wanted more

  42. So glad Hogfather was honest about this. It’s so easy for Sonic fans to get overhyped just because they want a new game on a next-gen console. Coming from the age of Dreadknux and Sonic’s glory days, this game has disaster written all over it. The sad part is I believe most of it won’t be fixed Day 1. It sounds like most of what you said may have even been intentional, despite being awful.

    At least we have Sonic Mania… :-\ I just hate to see the franchise take another blow for a cringey crapfest this game is gonna be.

  43. I don’t really understand why people are trashing on Hogfather and Dreadknux. I think the article did an excellent job of supporting all of it’s arguments. I think people are just shooting the messenger because they don’t want to believe that Forces is flawed. I implore those who are making the “bias” claim to objectively review all of the gameplay footage we currently have available. Graphically it’s nice and there are flashy, scripted moments. But the level designs are boring/flawed, the enemies pose no challenge, and the boost/wisp powers are overpowered. That is apparent in every trailer we have seen thus far.

    If that is what Hogfather experienced, then I have no difficulty believing him, especially since he did an amazing job explaining himself (personally loved the acceleration charts). Now hopefully Forces is a much better game than we are currently being allowed to know. But when was the last time a 3D Sonic game didn’t sell for full retail? I think that alone speaks leagues about SEGA’s confidence in this product.

    We all have our favorite type of Sonic gameplay, but the founders here are trustworthy fans. They wouldn’t write a negative review unless they were given legitimate reasons to do so.

  44. Hopefully the story will be the one saving grace of this game. I mean, I know it’s more important to optimize on the gameplay when it comes to a game, but I find that each time I look at previews for this game the only thing that keeps consistently getting more and more exciting and interesting is the story. The gameplay just seems to worry me a little bit at a time the more I learn of it. I’m not saying that it was wise of them to put more priority into nailing the story without nailing the gameplay first, but it WOULD be ironic if this Sonic game has the best story we’ve seen since Unleashed at the cost of the gameplay. Although, that’s like saying that at least your sense of smell has improved at the cost of your eyesight at this point. I really hope somehow they pull off a miracle and fix at least half of these issues before release time, but this late into the game, unless they were willing to delay it again, that might not be the case.

  45. I would love if Sonic Team gave the Adventure gameplay another opportunity in a future game, even if that game doesn’t have “Adventure” in its title.

  46. “This Double Boost move You hammer the button to do a fist bump within a time limit and off you go!

    Ever wonder what happens if you dont do that? Do you get less boost power? Do you fail the segment?

    What happens? Virtually nothing.

    My partner tried this before me and she mashed the button, succeeded and the double boost section began.

    When it was my turn I said Im going to deliberately fail this, I want to see what happens!

    What happened made us both laugh, Sonic and the avatar fist bumped, Sonic yelled Double Boost they stumbled a little, but that was it. I got the exact same double boost power and the segment played out exactly as it did for someone who bothers to do it.”

    >Nothing happened
    >Something happened

  47. This just comes across as a really low-budget outing, with padding and cost-cutting measures everywhere. 30 seconds of scripted sequences in a stage that’s barely 1 minute and a half? Come on…

  48. Thanks Hogfather for your impression of the demo, it was a great read! I’m looking forward for the review of the final build to see if there has been some improvements (or not).

  49. I think You should probably stop responding to these people Hogfather, i respect you opinion of the game, but your responses to these comments makes you come off as a jerk :u
    I’m sure you’re not, but still.

  50. This is depressing, however, it was not unexpected. I have seen the new level, Casino Forest, and it just seems like you described it (automated). This kind of gameplay was pretty exciting when it first came out, but Sonic should be about freedom (something Sonic Mania did correctly).

    Sonic Team needs to somehow let players manipulate Sonic’s speed. I should be able to run around an enemy to heat up the ground and make it sink. I should be able to create quick bridges by throwing a handful of sand and use them to scale to new heights by quickly running on them. Sonic should be able to traverse the world and be able to go from land to land by “highways” made for super speed.

    Sonic Forces seems to have an ambitious story line, but that gameplay did not put me at ease and this article and the low price point confirms why. I mean having it at $40 from the start is a big warning sign and I have seen those warning signs before. Poor 3D Sonic.

  51. Sorry, I would like to make a quick correction. Casino Forest looks too flat (since it is a 2D stage). The other stage, the desert stage, seemed too automated.

  52. I thought the article was well reasoned and very thorough and I’m thankful that Hogfather wrote it as it’s tempered my expectations of my pre ordered Switch version.
    But I’m still buying it as I’m curious about it and got it from argos for £28, so if it’s a mistake it’s a cheap one lol 😂

  53. Something makes me feel like they haven’t fully optimized the game and that it’s just the same demo they’ve used across the board. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s just me hoping that they get it right this time. Regardless, DOOM is getting ready to be on Switch, and there should be no excuse for performance issues if that of all things is able to be ported.

    I want to see Forces succeed. I want it to have good reviews. If the game fails, then maybe it’s time to see why Sonic Team is screwing up so bad, and how essentially a team of romhackers made a better Sonic game than the company can (aside from love for the series)

  54. As someone who played the demo on both E3 and gamescom, I share most of your thoughts. The bits about sudden acceleration and the awkward homing attack were spot on, as if words were translated directly from my thoughts.

    I’m no hater of 3D Sonics and I welcome any new game with open arms (Boom included). I just formulate my opinions just after playing the game or at least a demo. About Forces, the awful truth is as much as I was playing, less and less I was enjoying it.

    It kills me to say that and I’m sure you had the same feeling writing all these words.

  55. So..

    Am I the only one who has loved everything he has seen and yet appreciates the in-depth analysis that hogfather has made for why he doesn’t?

    Am I the only one who appreciates discussion, debate, and Analysis of gameplay design from various points of view?

    I have my own impressions positively towards the game; however, this isn’t my site so this isn’t the place for it.

    I love the write up HF. And I truly appreciate all your reasoning. Good article!

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