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Sonic Forces Review

  • First Released Nov 7, 2017
  • Reviewed Nov 10, 2017
  • PS4
  • XONE
  • NS
  • PC

Work it out.

From its opening stage, Sonic Forces displays a number of issues that are emblematic of the journey ahead: Its insistent tutorial messages interrupt your initial sprint down a winding road, the cinematic transition sequences that take you from one path the next that renders you an observer, not an active participant, and right as you're about to settle into the glee of your mad dash forward, the stage ends. In this 3D Sonic game, developer Sonic Team attempts to iterate upon the formula of games like Sonic Generations and Sonic Colors, but it falls short due to frustrating design choices and inconsistent level design. Even its most entertaining moments come with caveats.

The game's story once again sees Sonic getting involved in a battle against Dr. Eggman--this time over the fate of the world. The conniving scientist recruits the expertise of a powerful entity known as Infinite, who he uses to make short work of the blue hedgehog. Six months pass and Dr. Eggman has nearly taken over the entire planet, leaving Sonic and his friends in a tough position. To combat the threat, a ragtag group of freedom fighters consisting of Sonic, a younger version of himself, most of his supporting cast, and a new character you personally create and customize--simply named "the Rookie"--come together.

At first, Sonic Forces' emphasis on story seems like a refreshing shift from the predominantly simple plot lines of recent games in the series. However, even though the heightened stakes provide an interesting power shift, they never culminate into anything interesting or impactful. It's only in Sonic Forces' levity where it manages to be somewhat entertaining, turning to puns or brief comedic situations to elicit a snicker, but all too infrequently.

Throughout your adventure, you'll switch back and forth between playing as either Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic, or your custom character. Both Classic and Modern Sonic play similarly to their past iterations, with some minor additions: Modern Sonic has a double-jump and Classic Sonic comes equipped with Sonic Mania's Drop Dash ability; both are welcome tools that better distinguish the two hedgehogs. But the biggest addition to the formula is your custom character, who sports special weapons called Wispons that grant unique offensive and movement abilities. For example, the Drill Wispon allows you to quickly charge through foes or ride up and down walls. All three characters play distinctly from one another, and there are fleeting thrills to be had in plowing through minions with a speed boost or using a homing attack on a series of flying robots to quickly clear a path towards the finish line. However, the excitement of these high speed escapades are held back by clunky platforming and unwieldy movement.

Expect to repeatedly careen off the edge of a stage in your mad dash forward.
Expect to repeatedly careen off the edge of a stage in your mad dash forward.

During platforming and speed sequences, you frequently plummet down bottomless pits due to how abruptly your character builds up speed before a jump or how a road's bumpers aren't made clear. While death is to be expected, the level design repeatedly miscommunicates the placement of oncoming hazards and the timing required to avoid them. Admittedly, practice means you inevitably develop the reflexes demanded of you over time, but even with experience, the game's inconsistencies mean you'll often end up stuck on a ramp mid-run or make a double-jump that simply doesn't flow the way you want. Sonic Forces' sense of control is erratic and unreliable, resulting in a wealth of unintentional deaths and bizarre collisions with environmental hazards.

Sonic Forces' level design does little to accommodate your need for speed. Although Modern Sonic and your custom character have abilities that encourage you to push forward at a blistering pace, it's often smarter to slow down. Telegraphing the right time to go fast has always been a major design issue in the series, but it's magnified here, where obstacles and platforming sequences that require slower, more methodical movements aren't as explicitly signposted as they should be. Classic Sonic's strictly side-scrolling stages fair better in this regard, but only by a little. The game does a poor job of teaching you the flow of its design, instead relying on multiple frustrating and unfair deaths to educate you on the intricacies of a stage's pacing.

Set-pieces typically boil down to simplistic quick-time events that take you out of the high-speed action.
Set-pieces typically boil down to simplistic quick-time events that take you out of the high-speed action.

There's a pervading sense of monotony across Sonic Forces' seven unremarkable worlds. Nearly all the obstacles you encounter are rehashes of concepts and mechanics from previous games; lane-based level design, grind rails, speed boost sections, and side-scrolling platforming sequences all make a return. A set-piece sometimes breaks up the pace, but these encounters usually boil down to simplistic quick-time events that make you feel passive to the action happening on-screen. Multiple routes or lanes in a stage create the illusion of branching paths, but they're so brief that they feel more like quick diversions than actual alternate pathways. It doesn't help that stages are also incredibly short, typically clocking in at two-and-a-half minutes. With cutscenes before and after each stage, you can't help but wish there was a little more ground to cover before reaching the finish line.

Your custom character's Wispons add some variety to the mechanics, but even those are limited, as there are only a couple that offer practical benefits. For instance, the Lightning Wispon allows you to zip through a line of rings, often leading you to alternate routes in a stage. Out of the seven Wispons available, you're likely to stick to using one or two, as there's rarely any incentive to experiment once you've grown accustomed to how a couple work.

In terms of performance, Sonic Forces runs smoothly at 60 frames per second on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The Switch version, however, runs at 30 frames per second and suffers from a downgrade in visuals comparatively while docked or undocked. While tolerable, the higher frame rate of the other versions gives them a significant bump over the game's performance on Switch.

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It'd be fair to write Sonic Forces off as another weak entry in the series. It's numerous shortcomings make for an uneven, often frustrating gameplay experience. However, knowledge of its various flaws can make for a smoother second run through. In replaying for S-ranks it's possible to use your accumulated knowledge of a stage's hazards and its most illogical pitfalls to better your experiences. It was rewarding and enjoyable to go back to older stages to take the most efficient routes, knowing precisely when to increase Sonic's speed to earn faster times. That said, acquiring S-ranks and completing challenges isn't entirely difficult, which makes the endeavor of replaying stages short lived, especially considering how brief stages can be. And speed running or not, Sonic Forces' ill-designed stages and poor handling are still major obstacles that detract from your time spent playing.

For years the Sonic series has come up short in its 3D games. It wasn't until Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations that the series was able to grasp a semblance of quality that could change the perception of the series as a whole for the better. Sonic Forces ultimately fails to advance the mechanics of previously successful 3D Sonic games, or present them in their best light. A mediocre platformer at best, Sonic Forces manages to do nothing more than reinforce long held stereotypes against Sega's beloved blue blur.

Back To Top
The Good
A thrilling sense of speed and action when movement works the way you want
Characters' playstyles stand apart from one another
Replaying levels to achieve S-ranks or complete challenges can be rewarding
The Bad
Story is dull and lacks the stakes it initially promises
Clunky platforming and unwieldy movement
Forgettable and frustrating level design that rehashes old ideas more than offering new ones
Stages are too short
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Matt played Sonic Forces for 8 hours and has managed to achieve S-ranks for 22 out of the 30 main stages. His OC is a bird named Jigen, who wears Salt Bae glasses and fingerless gloves (plz dont steal). Matt was a huge fan of 3D Sonic games growing up. His favorite 3D Sonic game remains Sonic Colors. GameSpot was provided with a complimentary copy for the purposes of this review.
119 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for dark_thanatos20

Game Over Sanic

Avatar image for Rovelius

Oh, look, Sonic got another bad score. What a surprise.

Avatar image for draco934

I will give credit where its due, it is better than Sonic Boom, but falls short of Sonic Generations.

Avatar image for blue-peregrine

Sonic Losses

Avatar image for urbanman2004

Damn Sega wtf were you thinking

Avatar image for draco934

Well, we all saw this coming didnt we?

Avatar image for Angryduck67

It's hard to get bead on this one, I can't figure out what Sega was trying to do. I had some hopes considering the 40 dollar price point, maybe a more focused game that just goes for quick fun, but Forces is a game that races in three different directions and stumbles hard each way.

I actually liked the classic Sonic levels in Generations, the modern ones were OK, but I thought the 2D ones were an indication that Sonic could be done pretty well with a slick presentation as long as the game was focused on just being a fun Sonic game.

Forces has some of these classic Sonic levels, but even they feel stiff and clunky. The modern Sonic levels are so clunky they border on unplayable, it feels like it's lagging constantly. And the new custom hero device-thing levels are even worse, with character animations so goofy it looks like your protagonist just sort of slowly floats forward awkwardly instead of properly running.

We've seen other developers take on Sonic with mixed results so that isn't necessarily the answer. Sometimes you might get Mania, you might Sonic Boom on the Wii U, just handing the franchise over to other people doesn't necessarily solve the problem. The problem is that Sega is a poorly managed company that struggles to publish anything out of Japan that isn't a Yakuza game. Sega has found most of it's modern success publishing strategy games on the PC. PSO2 has been out for years in Japan and Sega doesn't even have the expertise or competence to publish a MMO in any country outside of Japan because they have absolutely no idea how to properly support and update it.

Sega has got to start stepping it's game up with bigger releases, or double down on indies and small developers who are willing to basically starve for passion projects like Mania.

Avatar image for quinnd6

Just get rid of Sonic Team and let the guys who made Sonic Mania make the Sonic games from now on.

Sonic Team isn't really Sonic Team anyway as I doubt anyone who made a proper Sonic game in the early nineties is on Sonic Team.

Well if there is maybe keep that one person but let all the rest go because you've been making crap Sonic games for far too long, it's time to go.

Let this crap game bomb, people don't buy it.

One thing I noticed is when the field of view goes behind Sonic's head these games turn to shit.

Avatar image for nickfitz_99

@quinnd6: Feel that- the last good game ST made was Shining : The Holy Ark on the Saturn

Avatar image for twztid13

Why does the game get the same score on all platforms when switch is considerably worse? I hate what GS reviews have become.

I hate that some Switch owners bought it thinking that it was a viable option for multiplatform games (those that didn't require special attention, just like this game was treated). They thought it would be like devs making an Xbox one version of a ps4 game, & just because it was easier to develop for than the Wii U that 3rd parties would support it. Some devs acted like this was the case, too, so not entirely the fault of those that believed them. I guess it's mainly the people that believed that in the face of the facts of the vast difference in the power of the current gen systems vs the Switch is what frustrates me, especially those in the media, because as soon as this fails to be the case, they will be the first to say it's dead, because of their unrealistic expectations.

Many think they can buy the switch version of any multiplatform game, just so they can play a handheld version if they wanted to, and all they'd have to sacrifice is the resolution (and a few would admit they may have to lose some texture quality, and maybe some newer design techniques). I don't like the handheld ability of the Switch, personally. Since the specs were announced, I thought it would be a system that needed special attention from devs to make great experiences on it whether unique or not. I don't think that rules out 3rd party support, but I don't think it will exist in the form of easy to port games from the other systems. I have no doubt the publishers will still try that if the install base is large enough, but those titles will not be as good as they are on the other consoles unless they are Indies or have really low requirements of the hardware.

I hate that devs like EA do shoddy jobs & get upset that they can't make a quick & easy buck, then back off in public. Their own expectations are at fault, and most (whether other devs like Sega, or casual observers/potential fans) will place some stock in what a big publisher like EA says, sadly, instead of doing their own research. I hope games that will inevitably do poor on Switch, like this one, aren't the standard bearers, or their excuses (that they may use to say, "we tried") for 3rd party support. It seems some Japanese developers are giving it genuine attempts, & creating games just for Switch or that have unique features (which I don't care about, but shows they at least have to give it attention apart from the ps4, x1 versions of any given game, even though those versions are usually not the 'main' dev teams). I hope they get some 3rd party attempts from the main dev teams, but usually that's not financially viable without creating for multiple platforms, and in those cases, Switch wouldn't definitely not be the lead platform.

If they supported the 3ds, or had a successor to it (in place of the portable Switch), they could use the assets for a Switch & 3DS version, which would make it somewhat more realistic to be able to focus on Switch as a lead platform. A much stronger handheld with 3d would be the only successor I would buy for 3ds, but I dont see that happening due to the extent 3d is not supported in Nintendo's own releases for 3ds, and because of the fact that they cut off a revenue stream by making the Switch portible (which led to MUCH weaker Switch specs than otherwise needed to be). If they had plans to release a successor to the handheld, they would need to do everything different, IMHO.

Avatar image for sbaltys

I feel like 3D Sonic games give a horrible first impression, which results in people tossing them aside and calling them shit, but with a little patience and practice I think they can be fun and rewarding... Or maybe I just enjoy shit games sometimes.

Avatar image for restatbonfire

I have a friend who loves sonic and I always tease him and say sonic sucks. This is just extra ammo for me lmao

Avatar image for KBABZ

Matt feels like the only big outlet reviewer who is able to actually explain WHY Sonic feels so bad when he's platforming. Despite being momentum-based, Mania feels very smooth and flowy when you play it. Forces meanwhile, due to being based on the Unleashed handling, often kills your momentum, and despite being in 1080p it somehow manages to show less of a level on-screen than Mania does!

Avatar image for Metallicwolf29

why is it so hard to just replicate the sonic adventure formula?

Avatar image for biggamerdude

this game is so fucking disapointing. Great review, btw Matt. Its mostly on point.

This game suffers from so many things....

first of all the control. Its god awful. Sonic can no longer actually be controlled during boost, which seriously makes it feel way more on rails. It just feels bad, and even though it wasnt great with generations and the other boosters, it was good, and could be controlled fairly decently. They fucked up classic sonic too, he controls like a tank and doesnt feel good at all.

Then the level design which just sucks ass, a serious step down.

The story that takes itself so seriously, even though it's run of the mill, the levels that are way too short, and arent even very fun to play.

Good things? Graphics, aesthetic, music is all i can think of. A Few levels in the game were ok, but that's just some. Most of it wasnt fun.

Its a 6 or 5, above average but not good.

Forget the boosts, sonic team. Go back to normal movement and interesting level design.

Not adventure 3, necessarily

Avatar image for l33tg4m3r

Sonic game about a plucky group of freedom fighters. No sally, rotor, bunnie, or antoine. Go to hell sega

Avatar image for KBABZ

@l33tg4m3r: Well they were never canon to the games to begin with, sooooo...

Avatar image for translucent17

I haven’t played sonic since the sega Genesis. It seems like they just cant get it right anymore

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@translucent17: Sonic Generations is worth playing in my opinion. Recently bought it on Steam for $5. Money well spent. I haven't played Mania yet but as you can see others love that one also.

Avatar image for KBABZ

@translucent17: Buy Sonic Mania, you won't be disappointed.

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@KBABZ: I want current gen graphics, though. I hate being so picky, but I can't control what I like. I just can't play 'retro' games. I hated that generation's (8, 16-bit) graphics when I lived through it. I definitely don't want to have to go back there. I know that's just me, not the majority, but that's the only perspective I can play games through (at least until future tech fixes that).

Avatar image for ragingfighter1

Myself I believe it deserves A 7. Sure it has its own issues were the characters flying through the boards way too quick and because the characters going much quickerLevel designs but because this particular character move so fast and it’s history and it’s gameplay in lax normal platforming character and level design it’s a limiting to what you can do because of this. No order to expand sonic you would have to slow him down can have a way of controlling his speed sega has to figure that out

Avatar image for ragingfighter1

Myself I believe it deserves A 7. Sure it has its own issues were the characters flying through the boards way too quick and because the characters going much quickerLevel designs but because this particular character move so fast and it’s history and it’s gameplay in lax normal platforming character and level design it’s a limiting to what you can do FaceTime this promise alone

Avatar image for twztid13

@ragingfighter1: I've always wanted to face time this promise alone, but others always want to face time it with me. It sucks.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a26032528a9b

Sega exec: Right. This isn't working. Let's try another Sonic RPG.

Other exec: Didn't EA...?

Sega exec: Sonofabitch!

Avatar image for playstationzone

Will be getting this game when down price but sonic maina there stages are short. Maybe sega start doing a new sonic collection seriously or a sonic maker so make your own levels.

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

Sega, please stop murdering this franchise. It should of been stopped years ago.

Avatar image for erhre

@Ezioprez9709: "should of been stopped years ago"

Just like your poor English.

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

@erhre: I don't think one comment can really back up that statement. Thanks for pointing it out though, my life will nevr bee thu saym.

Avatar image for BradBurns

@timmyp1982: Generations is an awesome game. And it generally got good reviews but haters always gonna hate.

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@timmyp1982: generations is the best 3d sonic game... ever in my opinion. that's why it gets so much fanfare. it has a few sloppy levels where there was too much trial and error, but the bulk of that game (and all the side scrolling stages) were fantastic in my opinion. is there a better 3d sonic game that you would recommend over generations?

Avatar image for restatbonfire

@Xristophoros: me personally loves sonic heroes

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

@timmyp1982: Although I haven't played Generations, I have been noticing people acting like it's a hidden gem. Can't say it isn't because like I said 've never touched the game, but yeah I know what you mean.

A Sonic game in an open world similar to Sonic adventure with gameplay similar to one of the original games would be a nice idea, but just not right now. Too many sandbox games already, so if it's gonna happen it should be in about five years time.

The old/new sonic is crap in my opinion. It's like Mario and Metal Mario. Completely pointless gimmick.

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@Ezioprez9709: a sens fan! i prefer the leafs, but seeing another ontarian on here is rare indeed :D

Avatar image for Ezioprez9709

@Xristophoros: I'm not actually from Canada, but thanks for noticing! The Sens/Leaf rivalry is one of the best in the NHL.

Avatar image for olddadgamer

@Xristophoros: Grumble Sens Grumble leafs grumble.

Go Bruins.

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@olddadgamer: don't remind me of the greatest comeback in nhl history. 2013. game 7. leafs are up 4-1 in the 3rd period and then... the rest is history :(

Avatar image for olddadgamer

@Xristophoros: Personally, I prefer game 7 of round one against the habs in 2011, but I do understand your pain.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

@Xristophoros: Ah, Canadians. Please tell me why this costs $15 at Walmart here but when I want to gift my niece it's like $95 over there:

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@girlusocrazy: lol i dunno. the $97 listing is from a 3rd party seller since doesn't seem to carry it. but yea, even when our dollar was on par or higher than the usd, we were still getting screwed over on merchandise and not getting the correct conversion. the market is designed to work against us :D

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

@Xristophoros: That sucks. Well at least you don't have as many mass shootings. Ah man, dunno why I went there. Reading the news I guess. It's like all bad news.

Avatar image for Xristophoros

@girlusocrazy: yea, that's true. canada is a pretty safe place relative to the states. on the whole there isn't much else to complain about in canada besides the 6 months of cold weather we get every year.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

@Xristophoros: Less tornados/hurricanes/tropical storms though. But yeah I can't deal with the cold. Here it snows an inch and they shut down the highway and declare a state or emergency

Avatar image for uninspiredcup

Still believe in you Sonic, ignore the haters.

Go fast.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

@uninspiredcup: Yeah, maybe it's like musou games where only 5% of people in the world really get it

Avatar image for gamer6130

I haven't played a sonic game in years and I really enjoyed this one.

Avatar image for girlusocrazy

@gamer6130: Did your copy come with a free bag of crack?

That's why you don't buy games from Larry in the alley behind the Denny's.

Sonic Forces More Info

  • First Released Nov 7, 2017
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Average Rating75 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Sonic Forces
    Developed by:
    Sonic Team
    Published by:
    Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Fantasy Violence