Sonic Forces is a platforming game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was announced during Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary celebration along with Sonic Mania. It is the first main installment of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise on eighth-generation consoles.
- Despite having a four-year development cycle, the development was mostly focused on the graphics engine, while the game itself took only a year to develop. In other words, Sonic Forces was rushed. This is supported by the fact that there was a lot of early concepts that didn't make it into the final product, and this game released the same year the Nintendo Switch was launched, and furthermore only one week after Super Mario Odyssey released.
- Just like the recent games of the franchise, the storyline is poorly written and focuses too much on "style over substance". The cutscenes are often just the characters talking and standing. The tone is very inconsistent, constantly changing between trying to be dark and not taking itself seriously. Cutscenes often abruptly end and the potentially exciting parts happen off-screen then are told in static dialogues rather than actually showing them to the player. It also has a fundamental conflict with the gameplay, in that it is rather hard to tell a story about a war in a game where the character has to solve all gameplay challenges by going very fast from one place to another. Some examples of awful and rushed writing include:
- The first cutscene makes it seem like Sonic is dead, but less than five minutes later, Sonic is revealed to still be alive.
- Classic Sonic randomly appears, defeats a Chaos clone, then does nothing for the rest of the story.
- Similar to Classic Sonic, Shadow defeats his clone, then does nothing for the rest of the story.
- Characters constantly talk about big epic fights happening in the levels but none of that is ever shown, not even as background details.
- Aside from a few Death Egg Robots in the background of one zone and a flashback where some civilians die, it is never shown how Eggman conquering the world has affected anything.
- Sonic and the Avatar are sucked into a "void black hole" to a dimension where nothing exists at the end of one level, but the next level begins with them immediately escaping, with their whole time in the void only lasting 17 seconds. Given the area has a three-minute music track and Sonic acts like him and the Avatar have been in there for quite some time, it appears the level was cut.
- Infinite just simply disappears after his final battle and he's never mentioned again.
- The game ends with a poorly made cliffhanger, as Eggman just simply disappears and there's no explanation of what happened to him, just like Infinite.
- The game has terrible dialogue, which makes the writing even worse. For example, poor jokes are made like Tails' "True dat!" and Sonic telling Classic Sonic " It's been generations since I've seen you!", and most notably, Infinite's infamous " I AM NOT WEAK!" when Shadow just called him "pathetic".
- Level design is very simplistic, linear, and rudimentary with frequent on-rails and autopilot sections that require little player input and tend to be under 2 minutes long.
- It was discovered that only 3 people (Jyunpei Ootsu, Shoko Kamiya, and Yuya Setogawa) worked on the game's level design, the lead designer (Jyunpei Ootsu) only worked on Sonic Lost World at the time and rest of them (Shoko Kamiya and Yuya Setogawa) had never worked on a Sonic game before.
- Due to levels being so linear, some of the enemies don't even attack the player.
- Overuse of nostalgia and fanservice, most of which are completely redundant because both Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania had already used Sonic nostalgia and fanservice as a selling factor:
- Classic Sonic was shoehorned in and has no effect on the plot whatsoever as mentioned above. His gameplay also redundant because Modern Sonic and the Avatar also have plenty of 2D sections in their own levels.
- Other fan-favorite characters also appear but they're never actually used for anything, as they're shoehorned in as well. Some examples include (but not limited to):
- Chaos from Adventure 1 appears but is defeated by Classic Sonic in a cutscene; you never fight against him.
- Shadow (one of the antagonists that appears alongside the other villains) never gets fought ether, as he gets defeated by the real Shadow in a cutscene, again.
- Other characters are just talking with chatter and serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever.
- Maps like Green Hill and Chemical Plant are used yet again for no discernible reason involving the story and are visited too many times.
- Clunky and poor physics, due to Sonic Team simply reused the physics engine from Sonic Lost World, which didn't feature the Boost mechanic reimplemented in Sonic Forces, as a result, there's a weird acceleration and little momentum that make precise platforming awkward and makes the characters feel too heavy. It would've made more sense to use the physics engine from Sonic Generations since that game was made with the Boost mechanic in mind.
- You need a running start before making jumps otherwise you'll barely get any distance and miss your jumps; at the same time, if you jump while running fast, you'll jump too far and overshoot platforms.
- When running forward in 3D, you can hardly move left or right without side-stepping.
- Classic Sonic doesn't gain any speed when going down hills and will fail to go up a ramp unless he spin dashes beforehand.
- Although the Boost Formula from previous well-received Sonic games returns, it is a very watered-down version with some mechanics missing, due to the poor physics.
- Drifting, in particular, is missing, which means that sharp turns are near impossible to take without coming to a complete stop. One good example is in the level Metropolitan Highway there are sharp turns, so if you boost and try to lean to the left or right you will fall off the bridge.
- Along with the very linear level design, the boost formula can be easily exploited. Just press and hold the boost button and watch the game plays itself on some of the levels.
- Just like the recent games of the franchise, the boss fights are very bland and forgettable.
- Metal Sonic and Infinite's boss fights (especially the final battle) are near identical.
- As mentioned above, you never fight Chaos and Shadow, as they are defeated in the cutscenes.
- Avatar bosses are easily exploited with the Flamethrower, which can defeat the bosses in less than a minute.
- The Final boss's third phase is just a rehash of Sonic Colors' final boss.
- Some quick time events have no penalty for failing to complete them. Quite literally, if you don't touch the controller at all during QTEs, the game will just keep playing as if you had cleared them. The same happens for the "Double Boost" sequences where you can put down the controller and watch the game literally play itself for over 10 seconds.
- Most of Classic Sonic's music ranges from mediocre to ear-bleeding, the worst offender being Green Hill. Even the music from Sonic The Hedgehog 4 and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood sounds good by comparison.
- The character customization is rather limited, while you can choose gender, species, and coloring, you can only change minor facial features and give them clothing. You can't alter their size nor adjust body proportions, and the facial features have very limited options.
- Speaking of the clothing, there are many clothing items that are just recolored duplicates.
- Getting all the customization pieces requires a ton of grinding.
- The characters (especially Sonic and Tails) have been characterized poorly in this game:
- Earlier trailers suggested Sonic would be more serious and tough, as they show him clutching his right fist with an angry look on his face. It was even stated in-game that he was imprisoned and tortured for months after the first level (though "6 months of torture" was a mistranslation from Japanese.), however, he still has the same annoying trying-too-hard-to-be-90s-cool personality from recent Sonic games. In addition, he never shuts up about the power of friendship.
- Tails is made into a complete coward who always relies on Sonic to protect him, and he can't even handle Chaos 0, despite having defeated Chaos 4 in Sonic Adventure. That game also had a whole plot arc revolving around him gaining the confidence to not rely on Sonic and be able to stand up for himself.
- Infinite is a rather unlikeable one-dimensional antagonist, as he's a whiny, edgy, and selfish jerk. All he does is producing clones of previous villains. As a result of the rushed Episode Shadow DLC, his backstory is very weak and poorly written. Also, his motivation for revenge is very cliché. In fact, his origin is rather inconsistent. In Episode Shadow DLC, he's a jackal that joined Eggman's side for "revenge" but in the actual game, it's said that he was created by Eggman. Also, he had a chance to kill Sonic but he let him alive for some reason.
- The game throws tons of rings at you, but since the game has unlimited lives (which make the game rather easy), they don't serve much of a purpose other than giving the player an additional hit point and increasing your score for S ranks. There's also a 100 ring limit in Easy mode.
- The game has a few elements of false advertising.
- Chaos 0 and Shadow appear in trailers and they are minor antagonists of the game. In reality, they are actually minor characters that defeated in cutscenes.
- Knuckles also appears in the box art, in which he seems to be one of the main characters in the game, but in the game, he's yet another useless minor character, just like other characters.
- Much like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, the game can be completed in less than 2 hours if you don't go after collectibles.
- Time trials can be very frustrating due to the awkward physics and unforgiving time limits.
- If you die during an SOS mission, you automatically fail the mission and can't try it again.
- Just like Sonic Generations, Super Sonic is just a power-up and it only gives invincibility and unlimited boost to Sonic. It doesn't help the fact is Super Sonic was originally going to be a paid on-disc DLC. It was later made free due to the backlash.
- The aforementioned Episode Shadow DLC was heavily rushed. It only has 3 levels, two of which were recycled from the main game and Shadow plays just as a Sonic reskin with slight changes.
- The Nintendo Switch version suffers from inferior graphics that look similar to the low-end mod for PC.
- To make matters worse, the frame rate on the Switch version is only 30 FPS, all other versions are 60 FPS.
- The Switch version also only runs at 1280 * 720, even in docked mode!
- This is kind of excusable though, considering that the Switch isn't as powerful as PS4, Xbox One, or PC.
- The base Xbox One version is also only 1280 * 720.
- Some levels only render at 1920 * 1080 on Xbox One X, despite the hardware being capable of better.
- Unlike the Nintendo Switch version, the Xbox One version at least does keep all the graphics effects and is at least still 60 FPS.
- Despite Sonic Forces "supporting" the PS4 Pro, the game doesn't run differently at all. There are no tangible PS4 Pro enhancements.
- The PC version uses the infamous Denuvo Anti-Tamper DRM.
- The graphics and lighting look fantastic.
- Despite the clunky physics and short length, some of the levels can be enjoyable, some highlights include Egg Gate, Capital City, and the Null Space level. Also, compared to the other playable characters, many critics and fans found the Modern Sonic levels to be more enjoyable.
- Despite being limited, it introduces the ability to create your own custom character to play as, referred to as the "Avatar". The Avatar can be either male or female and can be one of seven different species (Dog, Cat, Wolf, Rabbit, Bear, Bird, and Hedgehog), each having minor abilities in-game.
- The Avatar Character plays similar to Modern Sonic but instead of boosting he/she uses a grappling hook and "Wispon" weapons. There are 7 different Wispons, each has a main attack and a powerup that can be used by collecting the corresponding Wisp capsule. There are also Wispons with special perks.
- There are over 700 different pieces of clothing that can be used to customize the Avatar's appearance, including outfits from other Sega characters and even a shirt with the infamous Sanic meme. One of the DLC is even a crossover with Persona 5 (due to Sega's purchase of the company Atlus).
- Completing missions and getting S Ranks in levels unlocks more Avatar outfit parts.
- There are a few levels where both Sonic and the Avatar are controlled at the same time.
- You can also play as other players' Avatars.
- In addition to the main levels, there are several mini levels you can unlock by collecting Red Rings. These bring mechanics that were previously used in Sonic Colors.
- Absolutely phenomenal soundtrack (except for Classic Sonic besides Chemical Plant and Death Egg), despite heavy usage of dubstep and synth. Every Avatar level soundtrack has lyrics that symbolize what the Avatar is thinking at that moment.
- Despite only being used once in-game, Infinite's theme song is awesome (even though it tries way too hard to be edgy and has misleading lyrics).
- The main theme, "Fist Bump", sounds decent. Despite being nowhere near as good as other Sonic theme's like "Open Your Heart", "Live and Learn" or even "His World".
- The background song that plays during the Eggman cutscenes really does add well to his intimidation.
- The orchestral soundtrack was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, the same orchestra that did the music for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies.
- While some characters like Sonic and Tails are poorly portrayed, most of the others were improved (even though many of them serve no purpose in the game).
- After a few games and of being portrayed as an irrational bully whose only interest is picking fights with Sonic, Shadow's personality in this game reverts back to his level-headed and heroic personality from previous games like Sonic Heroes and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
- After a while of being portrayed as an evil scientist who always came off as a joke, Dr. Eggman has gone back to his serious mad scientist personality from previous games and goes back to his plan of conquering the world. The fact of how dark and serious he acts in the game can especially come off as quite jarring. He's also gone back to being the main antagonist once again, and for a change, he isn't betrayed by the evil power he's trying to control.
- After some games and spin-off of him being portrayed as a generic idiot, Knuckles is more aligned with his previous personality from the Sonic Adventure series.
- Amy Rose's personality has drastically improved. Her personality portrayal from previous games due to Sega deciding to align her personality with her Sonic X counterpart consists of her obsessing over Sonic, being selfish and annoyingly overbearing, and just being quite cruel and physical. Her portrayal in this game is more aligned with Sonic Adventure's series portrayal.
- Great voice acting. Especially from Kirk Thornton as Shadow where his voice performance has largely improved since Sonic Boom, Travis Willingham for a quite spot-on impression of Dan Green, and Mike Pollock as Dr. Eggman for giving a more darker and serious performance compared to his previous roles as Dr. Eggman. Liam O'Brien was also great as Infinite, despite his wasted talent.
- Like Generations and Lost World, the game has mod support on PC.
- A Classic Sonic Improvement Mod that improves Classic Sonic's gameplay can be found and downloaded here.
- Hunting collectibles and clearing missions do offer more challenge and add flavor to the levels, you're also constantly rewarded with Avatar customization pieces for getting them.
- Unlike Generations' and Lost World's PC version, Forces' PC version actually shows the keyboard buttons rather than Xbox buttons when playing with a keyboard.
- The performance and system requirements aren't super high in the PC version. On some computers, Sonic Forces run with a better frame rate than Sonic Generations.
- The Xbox One and PS4 versions always run at a consistent 60 FPS from start to finish.
Sonic Forces, known as "Project Sonic 2017" when first announced during Sonic's 25th Anniversary, was met with anticipation and excitement from the community due to apparently being a sequel to Sonic Generations given that Classic Sonic was also present. However, the game's hype was quickly overshadowed by Sonic Mania which was announced at the same event, and over time fans began to worry about Classic Sonic being in the game due to Mania already doing the same. The character customization feature was met with some skepticism but also praise as it was taking advantage of how most people make their own Sonic characters.
The game received mixed reviews upon release. The presentation was praised, but the game was heavily criticized for bland overly short level design, wonky physics, Classic Sonic being shoehorned in, a very poorly executed plot, and the Avatar characters, which many have called out as inspired by the infamous Sonic OCs. Overall, the game was described by the general community as "Not terrible, but underwhelming and could not meet the expectations from the hype surrounding it."
Fans were particularly angered when they found out about the level design team, as the game had been advertised as being developed by the same team behind Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations.
Jirard the Completionist was more positive than most reviewers, describing the game as "More fun to complete than to play".
An IDW Comic series that is supposed to follow up the events from the game was released and was well received.
- When the Avatar character was first teased as a silhouette, it was noted by some fans that it somewhat resembled Bubsy the Bobcat.
- Ported to Microsoft Windows by British developer Hardlight Studio.