Review: Sonic Forces

About this Game

Sonic Forces

Publisher

SEGA

Developer

Sonic Team

Release Date

November 7, 2017

Console

PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

15-20h

Platinum Difficulty

Medium

Online Trophies?

Yes

Difficulty Trophies?

Yes

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Under All the Cringe Hides a Cheesy Bit of Fun

I’m not a huge Sonic fan. I’ve put a lot of hours into Sonic Adventure 2 on Gamecube as a kid and I thoroughly enjoyed Sonic Generations, however, every other experience I’ve had with a Sonic game has been a glitchy, frustrating, poorly-constructed mess which has made wading through the cringe of the franchise not worth the effort. 

How does Sonic Forces fare, was it another failure of quality control or did SEGA manage to pull a decent game from thin air?

Sonic Forces Review

Gotta Go Fast

Our latest edgelord villain, Infinite, hovers in centre-stage as our titular hero, Sonic the Hedgehog races towards him. “What would you like your epitaph to read?” Infinite sneers through his full-face mask, “How about ‘Here lies the blue Buffoon’?”. Unwilling to let the villain get the last laugh, Sonic retorts with heaps of smarm “Why not ‘Here dozes the masked clown’? Might as well make it for the person who needs one, right?”. In response, I feel my spinal cord twist in ways I never thought possible, as it tries to unplug my brain and put me out of my misery, a defence mechanism against the cringeworthy dialogue to which I’m having a visceral reaction.

Not a big fan of the new villain design. Maybe a child won a design competition?

This kind of awkward exchange is plentiful in Sonic Forces, and you’ll wish with every fiber of your being that there was some way to turn off dialogue. As you’re forced to sit through the same dialogue over and over when trying to beat time challenges or collect rings, their unnecessarily dramatic delivery and failed attempts at humour, it’s hard to overlook the fact that the game is aimed at children.

Of course, the internet knows all too well that there are more than children in the Sonic the Hedgehog fanbase, and many an unfortunate soul knows of the sexual content Sonic often finds himself associated with, tainting the brand of the franchise beyond repair. 

SEGA do their best though, as they try to make a game which a different majority of the fanbase has always wanted. It’s no secret that the furry community are big advocates of Sonic the Hedgehog, and their simplistic approach to character design makes it easier for less-talented artists to bring their “fursonas” to life by following the Sonic the Hedgehog art style.

My favourite of the custom characters I made; Sanic the Hordgeheg

Finally recognising that this community and the Sonic fanbase go mostly hand-in-hand, SEGA added a character creator to the game, allowing players to create their fursonas in 3D and bring them into the fray alongside Sonic and pals. While I am certain this feature excited the fanbase, I found it pointless, and the focus on this aspect removes some of the fun of playing as Sonic, more on that shortly.

The campaign sees us taking control of our custom characters, a ‘rookie’ in the rebel army rising up against Eggman and his new-found undefeatable power. Using Infinite as a catalyst for the power of the “Phantom Ruby”, Eggman has created himself an indestructible ally to finally help him dominate the earth.

Stopping him is up to Sonic, Classic Sonic (from another dimension… It all happened in Sonic Generations) and… You!

Modern Sonic levels play out like other 3D sonic games; There are 3D segments in which you are moving forwards and have some range of left/right movement. Often these 3D segments will include speedway sections in which you’re running down a long road and can move left or right slightly to avoid enemies and obstacles or collect rings and collectibles. There are also 2D side-scrolling sections within which you have full use of Modern Sonic’s homing attacks, boost ability and double-jump.

Many Modern Sonic stages include silly action sequences, but it’s all a good bit o’ fun.

Classic Sonic levels are all fully side-scroll platforming missions with more similarities to the original SEGA Genesis Sonic games. Classic Sonic’s abilities are more focused on being able to roll into a ball, making use of this to charge up a boost, attack enemies or simply go through a level quicker.

Playing as the “Rookie”, your custom character, is similar to doing a Modern Sonic level, but you have access to things called “Wispons” which are weapons you can switch out from the Avatar menu. Each weapon has a different ability which can be activated upon collecting Wisp capsules. Abilities include being able to boost yourself into the air with the burst ability or quickly travel down a chain of rings with the lightning ability. My issue with these things is that these could have been unlockable abilities for Sonic, adding replayability to levels, giving you a reason to come back and try out another level for better score, time, or to find a hidden collectible. This is what they did for Sonic Adventure 2 and it worked great. Removing the whole Fursona aspect of the game and focusing on the sonic levels would have, in my opinion, improved gameplay tenfold. But I suppose I’m not the target audience.

There are also some hybrid levels in which you play as your Fursona alongside Sonic. The whole thing is very corny as the game makes it very obvious how they expect you to feel. SEGA obviously foresee fans squealing “That’s me! I’m running with Sonic! Sonic is talking to me and we’re best friends now, yay!!”. As a grown adult without a fetish for Sonic’s feet I’m just left watching the wolf I threw together hold hands with Sonic the Hedgehog as a shiver of rejection crawls up my spine and ruffles my hair. In these missions you get full access to Sonic’s abilities (you just need to hold daddy Sonic’s hand when he’s running fast) as well as your fursona’s Wispon abilities, which I guess is kinda what I wanted, but not quite.

Me and Sonic are best buds. Jealous?

The story is boring and – obviously – full of edgy exchanges with the enemies and barf-inducingly cheesy dialogue with well-known characters Knuckles, Amy, Tails, Silver, Rouge and more. But SEGA made a decent effort with the cutscenes (none of which I can show you because SEGA didn’t want me taking screenshots of cutscenes for some bizarre reason) and they have plenty of polish and action, probably enough to excite a Sonic fan.

The gameplay, though, is actually not all that bad. I massively prefer the modern sonic levels, and I’m so bad at retro gaming that I struggled a lot more with the Classic Sonic levels, but overall it was decent fun, even doing the time trial challenges.

Nostalgia With Style

The graphics, too, are… quite frankly gorgeous. The colourful and busy environments whizzing by as you dash down the street really pop in high definition on my PS4 Pro, Sonic games haven’t ever exactly been well-known for their graphics, but if ever I was to call a Sonic Game beautiful, it’d be this one. Green Hil Zone, for example, looks exactly how you’d hope a reimagining of the original would, even the leaves are square to keep the feel of the original present and it comes together in a really great way!

Green Hill Zone’s aesthetic is iconic, unique, and full of charm. No wonder it keeps coming back!

The character designs are about the same as they’ve always been. Some characters came about during different phases of Sonic’s lifetime, though, so characters like “Zavok” from Sonic Boom Sonic Lost World (Thank you to BarradosRamos on PSNProfiles for correcting me) don’t quite fit in with the rest due to styling differences. All in all, though, with more detailed textures and extra care put into their colours, every character looks excellent in HD.

One really stand-out thing about this game is the music, though. I hate to say it, but the music in Sonic Forces slaps. Obviously, if you listen to the lyrics you’ll feel that old friend cringe creeping back up your spine, but it fits the game really well, changing tone at all the right moments and it actually succeeds in getting you pumped about going fast.

The lighting in this stage makes your shadow hit the wall way in the back, a stylistic decision which has striking results.

End-Game Content

Hoo boy. Once you’re done with the story, there is still A LOT to keep you busy. Even if you’re not a trophy hunter like myself, you might be very competitive and want to set speed records, Sonic games are fantastic for this and Sonic Forces is no exception. There are also a lot of challenges you can take on, these challenges involve completing sonic levels in a certain time, levelling up your fursona and collecting red star rings.

Speaking of red star rings, there are a lot of collectables too! Each level has 5 red star rings to find, once you have them all then 5 numbered rings will appear in the stage. These numbered rings need to be collected in a single run of the level and must be collected in a certain order, but collecting those will unlock the Silver Moon rings which, again, need collecting in a single run. Silver Moon Rings, however, are a bit more tricky. Collecting the first one will start a timer and you’ll need to grab the other 4 before the timer runs out or they will disappear and you’ll need to try again.

Not all Red Star Rings are well-hidden, but they can be difficult to reach.

Of course, all of the above are things I had to do for the Platinum Trophy. Let me tell you all about it…

My Sonic Forces Trophy Experience

My platinum trophy run could have been a lot better. I did an absolutely awful job here of time management and my whole approach to the journey was flawed, meaning this platinum took me over 30 hours to get and it shouldn’t have. I’ll detail a lot of my mistakes in this section but I’ll also include a list in the Tips section of things which you can do, in order to have an easier time platting Sonic Forces.

Rookie’s Campaign

The Campaign was easy, very easy. I sped through the entire campaign in maybe 4 hours, not a long time at all. In that time I wasn’t particularly doing anything to benefit other trophy reuirements, I was just trying to complete the campaign. However, I could have saved myself a lot of time in the future by trying to collect as many rings as possible, actively attempting to get S-ranks on all stages and completing as many challenges as possible throughout my playthrough of the campaign.

Obviously, I naturally completed a few challenges and S-ranks, netting me the odd trophy here and there, but nothing significant.

S-Rank Run

This is where my trophy hunt really picked up steam. I played through every level, one-by-one, repeating them over and over until I got an S-Rank. Each day that I played the game I would complete the daily challenge, not just because there’s a trophy for completing 10, but also because you get a score multiplier for 30 minutes. This score multiplier made more difficult missions easier to S-rank so I would try to get the tougher missions out of the way during that 30-minute window.

Working on getting those S-ranks.

To be honest, I was wasting time by doing the S-Ranks without the score boost. If I’d planned out my time more carefully I could have focused on other trophies during this time and then just used the daily score multiplier to get S-Ranks since it was so easy to do with a multiplier.

Regardless, I did it and it wasn’t all that difficult. The key is to finish with as many rings as possible and not die much. If I died more than once in a stage I would just start back from the beginning to ensure I had more score at the end.

Obviously, you also want to be completing missions quickly, but that’s nothing compared to the time challenges…

Gotta Go REALLY Fast

The time challenges were a bit of a joke sometimes. Every now and then I’d get lucky and manage to beat the challenge in my first or second try, but most missions required about 15-20 attempts until I was good enough to beat the time challenge. More extreme cases took a lot longer, for example, the final stage – Stage 30 – took about 100+ attempts. The main reason for that is that every time I got good enough at it that I felt I could complete the level in good time, I’d have to stop playing to go to work or go to bed and so I’d have to come back to it later, at which point I’d already lost what skill and experience I’d built up and then had to get used to the level again. It was a bit of a nightmare.

In the end, of course, I managed it. While this phase of the trophy hunt was probably the hardest part, and definitely the most frustrating part, it came with a lot of satisfaction. Finally beating a time challenge after multiple runs at the same mission over and over resulted in such an immense feeling of joy and accomplishment, so in a way I’m still glad I went through it all.

Can’t be relaxing like this for Time Challenges, buddy.

I will say, though, I’m clearly not very good at sonic games. I reckon most other gamers, especially sonic fans, could probably do this phase in about half the time. There’s an upside to me being bad, though. I recorded every successful attempt to beat a time challenge and those videos are listed in the Tips section below. They should help you to beat the challenges for yourself, but on top of this, the fact that I make a mistake or two in almost every single video proves that you can mess up and still make it through in time.

Rings, Rings, Rings

Now, with all of the time challenges done and every level S-ranked, I decided it was time for some collecting. I found this part of the journey to be very boring. Looking for the red rings in every level was just an annoying chore. Sometimes I’d have to replay a level 5 or 6 times before finding that last red ring’s hiding spot. 

Then, of course, collecting all the red rings would unlock the numbered rings. Once I had the red rings on a level I would play it again immediately to get the Numbered rings and the same for the silver moon rings, this just felt more satisfying as I’d fully complete each level before moving on. 

Numbered rings were much easier to find as they were often in plain sight but I sometimes missed them by taking shortcuts and hidden paths through the level out of habit from the time challenges. 

Nothing like a trophy to make it all seem worth it.

Silver rings were way more difficult to collect. Often they’d be hidden away on one of the shortcuts, but it helped that I’d done the speed challenges and knew most of the secret paths. One level in particular has a water slide on it and it is the single most difficult level for Silver Moon Rings. I spent over 30 minutes on that level trying to get the silver moon rings alone. Even the numbered rings took a good 15 minutes of retries to get.

Cleanup

Following all that, I still had a fair few things to do. 

Once I had got the trophy for completing 10 SOS missions I stopped doing them, only to find out later that the challenges want you to complete 30 SOS missions. So that was a pain since I had to stop what I was doing towards the end whenever an SOS mission popped up so I could complete the last 20 SOS missions I needed. So yeah, make sure you keep doing SOS missions as they appear, I could have saved myself a lot of time.

I still had to get the last two avatars fully levelled up and I still had to collect over 50,000 rings. I had the trophy for 10,000 rings but I didn’t even have the 50,000 ring trophy yet, nevermind the 100,000 ring trophy. How annoying!

I found two good farming methods (videos for these in Tips section below) through which I could get 900-999 rings per run. My calculations told me that I would have to do this at least 56 times for 50,000 rings. So, once that 50,000 trophy popped, I knew I’d only have to play through Stage 7 another 56 times for the trophy… Which I did.

Somewhere around my 28th run I lost count, so this trophy popping was a very pleasant surprise!

Amidst those 56+ attempts at Stage 7, I was also going off to complete any SOS missions which popped up so that I could complete the last challenges I needed and then finally, after what felt like an eternity (but was actually about 3 hours) of farming, I got the platinum trophy.

During my ring farming phase, though, I decided to pick up the free Shadow the Hedgehog DLC and play through the 3 Shadow stages (they remastered his original theme from Sonic Adventure 2!). During these levels I got all of the red, numbered and silver rings, netting myself the only 3 DLC trophies and ensuring a 100% completion. 

I gotta admit, it feels pretty good to play as Shadow again after all these years.

The Shadow levels and associated trophies are really easy, except the silver moon rings on stage 2, they took me a good 15 minutes of attempts to collect.

Sonic Forces Platinum Trophy Tips & Advice

How to plat the game faster than me

As you saw above there were a few mistakes I made which ended up meaning I wasted a lot of time, and could have sped things up a bit more by doing a few things, which I’ll list below:

  • Be better than me at Sonic. I’m only half-joking here. I’m not great at the game and I make a lot of silly mistakes which ended up losing me a lot of rings or meaning I missed the time challenge goal by a few seconds.
  • Finish all of your time challenge attempts. Everytime I made a mistake in a time challenge attempt I would immediately restart. To me, it wasn’t worth finishing the level unless I was going to complete the time challenge. This is stupid. By completing the entire level you’ll not only get more familiar with the level quicker, you’ll also get to cash in a lot of rings and exp at the end. This will make collecting 100,000 rings as well as completing the gold medal challenges a lot quicker, and having a secondary goal while attempting time challenges will make the time feel less wasted.
  • Complete SOS missions as they appear. Not only do you need to complete 10 for a trophy, but you need to complete 30 in total for the challenges. Once 2 of them have appeared on the map, no more will appear, so it’s not like you can stockpile SOS missions for later, you need to do them as they appear or you’re shooting yourself in the foot by having to wait for them to appear later.
  • Actively try to get collectibles. During my campaign, S-Rank and time challenge runs, I ignored rings for the most part, telling myself “I’ll just collect them when I do a ring run”. While that worked out fine, it did add a lot of time onto my platinum journey. Instead, if you see a red ring, numbered ring set or silver ring set on any of your runs (unless you have a really promising time challenge run going), actively try to get them. This will save you a lot of time later.
  • Actively check challenges. Some of the challenges require you to do specific things as Sonic or Classic Sonic. I completely ignored these for the most part, which also came back to bite me when I realised how many of them there were. Before starting any Sonic stage, check the challenges and see if there are any you could complete during your run. Same goes for Avatar Wispon challenges, although those are much easier to get.

Time Challenges (with Videos)

I recorded every successful attempt at a time challenge. I don’t think I missed any, but if I did it will be because the time challenge was so easy I got it without actively trying. 

These can be very hard and they will take multiple attempts to get right. Here are a few tips to help you though:

  • Use the D-Pad in Classic Sonic stages for more precision control.
  • Holding after a jump as Classic Sonic will make him come to a harsh stop. With some good timing, this can be used to quickly go from running to charging a spin dash.
  • Holding as Classic Sonic on a rotating circular platform will make him spin around it, keep it held down to build up speed.
  • For most boss missions with Sonic and your Avatar, the drill weapon is OP. By jumping in the air and holding you can dash forwards at speed without the use of Sonic’s boost ability. Against Infinite and Metal Sonic this can be used to gain ground on them and attack them even when they do their spinning attack straight at you.
  • Also for those missions, if you press to boost before attacking an enemy, you will be ensuring that Sonic is the attacker rather than your Avatar. This is important because Sonic’s homing attacks are much faster.

My other advice would be specific to each stage, so to make it easier for both of us, I feel these videos provide better explanation:

Stage 3 within 60 seconds

Stage 5 within 135 seconds

Stage 6 within 120 seconds

Stage 8 within 100 seconds

Stage 9 within 85 seconds

Stage 10 within 75 seconds

Stage 11 within 75 seconds

Stage 13 within 90 seconds

Stage 15 within 70 seconds

Stage 18 within 70 seconds

Stage 21 within 90 seconds

Stage 22 within 110 seconds

Stage 23 within 100 seconds

Stage 26 within 70 seconds

At the part in this one where it looks like I hit a dead end but went right through it, I actually hit to slide under an opening which is there. It’s a little hard to see and the game doesn’t expect you to slide very often so I figured I’d mention that.

Stage 27 within 135 seconds

Stage 28 within 140 seconds

Stage 30 within 270 seconds

In this Stage, during the third phase of the boss fight, attacking the boss 7 times will make Classic Sonic and your Avatar attack the boss, thus starting the Boss’s next attack phase. However, if you use your homing attack on the boss only 6 times instead of 7, then drop to the ground and hit to boost you will be able to start your attack animation again, letting you land another 6 attacks.

This can only be done while you have boost though, so ensure you land 7 attacks before you run out of boost or you will miss out on a large chunk of damage. 

Using this method you should be able to beat the third stage of the boss fight in just 3 attack sets. The video should make this clearer but I felt it did require some explanation.

Ex Stage 1 within 30 seconds

Ex Stage 4 within 35 seconds

Ex Stage 6 within 45 seconds

Ex Stage 7 within 55 seconds

Ring Farming (with Videos)

There are 2 highly recommended farming methods.

The first is Stage 7, I’d recommend this one the most. It’s very quick at around 1 minute and 22 seconds per run and you will get around ~750 coins per run unless you use a Wolf Avatar. Wolves have the added ability to attract nearby rings, so by using a Wolf you will average 950-975 rings per run. With a little practice and precision you will eventually be getting 999 rings each run.

If you’re not using a Wolf (because you still need exp for your other Avatars) then you will need to play the stage around 67 times to get 50,000 rings. If you are using a wolf you’ll need to do around 50-56 runs of the stage to net 50,000 rings.

You will need an Electric Wispon equipped, preferably one which gives you extra rings for every enemy you defeat. Never use a Wispon which caps your rings at 100… Obviously.

Here’s a video of me doing the run (not my best run, but good enough):

The other run is on stage 25. You will need to use a Hover Wispon. Again, try to get one which gives you rings for defeating enemies, but you probably won’t see many enemies with this method. 

For me, this method just isn’t worth it because it has a much higher risk of getting damaged and losing your rings, it’s also about 30 seconds longer in my experience. But, people recommend it because it’s easier to get 999 and you can make a mistake in this stage and still get 999 rings. If the rings weren’t capped at 999 I would recommend this stage as you could easily get over 2,000 rings in one run here.

So, it’s up to personal preference, whichever you would enjoy more. Here’s a video of me using this second method:

That concludes my Sonic Forces platinum trophy review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let me know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and I love engaging with people over the game I just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!

We also just started a Twitter account @GetPlat where I’ll be sharing updates, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games I’m working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!

Verdict

Play

Sonic Forces is actually a lot of fun once you cut through the obvious and expected cringe of the Sonic franchise. The gameplay is really solid and for once this one isn’t riddled with bugs and glitches. However, the platinum journey just ended up being more Sonic Forces than I would have personally liked to play through. Either way, have fun with it!

Pros

  • Solid fast-paced action gameplay
  • Pretty environments
  • Excellent music

Cons

  • Awkward cringe-worthy story
  • Avatar mechanics could have been used to make Sonic gameplay more fun instead

Gold Trophy

I originally thought I’d give this game a Silver trophy, but after spending so much time with it, I feel like it has enough fun and polish under the hood to deserve this Gold instead.

About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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