Sonic Forces is more than just a Deviant original character creation kit, it is also a genuine Sonic game with loops and platforms. I played three stages from the game and found it fun and fast but also a bit clumsy.

Building off the strong model set in Sonic Generations, Forces has a few different modes of play. Modern Sonic is all about blasting forward through waves of robots at mach speed, which can be triggered with a button push to unlock a breakneck pace. Speed is a hallmark of the franchise, but it can still be overwhelming. The fire-filled city level that I raced through was chock full of robots, rings, and power-ups but the experience became a bit too much of a blur as I raced by without much chance to think about what I was doing.

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Classic Sonic’s stage was a bossfight that started with a shout-out to the original game’s first boss, as Eggman swung a large ball and chain at Sonic. I ran into a confusing mechanic: collected rings could not be picked up again if I was hit. Sonic Forces doesn’t use a traditional lives system, and rings are merely stored away when you pick them up. While this did make grabbing rings more interesting, it also felt like an odd departure from the established formula. In spite of this oddity, the bossfight with a lot of fun, building to a section where I needed to launch bombs back at Eggman.

If Modern Sonic was a bit too chaotic and Classic Sonic more reserved, the “avatar stage” I played found a happy medium. I wasn’t able to create my own personal freedom fighting animal gal and instead ran through the level with a prefab character. What I did have a choice over was my gear, a piece of technology that would alter my play experience by granting a special skill. My options were a flamethrower or a lightning whip. I chose the latter and it allowed me to attack waves of enemies in front of me, clearing paths as I moved onwards. This was the toughest stage, with platforming sections that were difficult to navigate due to a stiff-feeling jump without much fall control. It did, however, offer a great number of branching pathways and interesting power-ups. I could follow a path down through spinning tunnels or pick up a different lightning based powerup that allowed me to leap to nearby rings and find new paths. It was my favorite section, held aloft by strong level design and challenge.

Sonic Forces excited my inner child and tugged deeply at my nostalgia but also provided a surprisingly solid experience. Based on my demo, the game can be chaotic and the platforming needs some tweaks, but there’s a lot packed into the game that might entertain fans and newcomers.

But seriously, let me try that character creator next time...