Frankly, I doubt this page needs a preface at all. The game Sonic Omens (or Sonic 2020, as it used to be called), developed by the indie Ouroboros Studio, became famous long before its release for its scandalous antics with finding ways to monetize the game. After its release, the scandal went from a candle to a conflagration, and now basically everyone knows about the game. Here is my post describing my stance on the Ouroboros Studio scandal.
However, in this post I don’t intend to touch on Ouroboros Studio or the situation around it at all, nor on the history of the game’s creation. I intend to look at the game out of context, as objectively as possible. After all, the game is an independent product, and you should not care how it was made, but whether it is capable of entertaining you (especially if it is free).
As a reminder, I already reviewed the previous version of the game (Episodes Breakthrough and Temple of Sands). Most of the points I will repeat in terms of gameplay, but I will also add few new points.
Sonic Omens – a boost 3D Sonic platformer with playable Sonic and Shadow with DIFFERENT gameplay style for each of them, 7 episodes, 18 stages (tutorial, 9 default stages, 3 plane stages, 4 bosses) many cutscenes, original soundtrack. Overall playtime you can have in game right now in one playthrough is about 4 hours on first playthrough (which is more than Forces, heh).
(section mostly copying same section from previous review)
As already told, it’s a boost gameplay. Those who know what is “Infinity Engine” – this game is created using it. Gameplay is going on action stages, which are mostly going 2-8 minutes, allows you to achieve high speed using your boost and acrobatic skills. Basic skills both Sonic and Shadow has are Boost, of course, which allows you instantly get maximum speed and destroy any enemy on the way, Homing Attack, which allows to jump on any enemy you see, with this sometimes getting through platforming elements of stages, Stomp – character instantly goes down, Slide and Light Speed Dash – classic dash through the road of rings. I guess those are all the basics.
That was the info for those who never played Sonic games (i mean, if you didn’t what are you even doing here? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)) and now for details.
- Boost is not as imbalance as in Generations or Forces. Stages are built with Boost in mind and it feels organic and not imbalance.
- Homing Attack took a major change. To use it, you need to point a camera EXACTLY on the enemy, or else character won’t use it. It’s a major change, because it causes a situation, when it’s easier to play with keyboard\mouse than with controller, because camera is controlled easier with mouse. Some sections are almost impossible to complete in specific ways without having mouse.
- Enemies are actually resisting, which is not typical for Boost games. They can really put quite a fight by always looking and shooting with exact pattern exactly in character’s body and often getting into the target.
Game has two playable characters – Sonic and Shadow. I heard opinion, that game needs more, but i am not agree. It doesn’t have sense to add more playable characters if they are played similar, and what is awesome about Sonic and Shadow in Sonic Omens – they feels completely different.
From basic differences Sonic is a bit faster and Shadow’s Homing Attack has little higher range. But also each of them have unique skills:
Sonic can perform Bounce, Light Speed Attack and some kind of Laser Whip he can use in platforming.
- Bounce. Totally outstanding skill. I am not sure what’s special with Bounce exactly in that game, but it’s not just useful – it changes the platforming completely and makes it 10 times more fun. Bounce is definitely the most useful Sonic’s skill and feels just perfectly.
- Light Speed Attack. It charges for about 1 seconds (faster than in previous versions), which is not that much (in Adventure it was about 4 i guess). Skill is no doubts useful, i would even say stronger than Chaos Blast (about which i’ll talk later). The thing is, that while Chaos Blast needs a lot of energy, LSA is totally free to use, more than that, mostly LSA will hit more enemies, because Sonic is jumping from one enemy to another by the principle of Homing Attack, while Chaos Blast has very direct range. The problem of this skill though, it’s hard to understand the range. Sometimes Sonic attacking enemy who is standing in damn kilometer from him, but not the enemy which is RIGHT damn THERE!
- Laser Whip. I don’t like this kind of skills. It can be used only in very direct places in stages, while all other time it’s useless. More than that, Shadow can skip those sections mostly and will do it even faster than Sonic. Problem is, even Sonic himself can skip Laser Whip section. That sucks. Though, not gonna lie, it is very useful on The Citadel of Lotus stage.
Shadow, of course, can use Chaos abilities. He has a special scale for it, which he can fill by destroying enemies with Homing Attack, Slide, or Boost. Those abilities are Chaos Control, Chaos Dash, Chaos Spear and Chaos Blast.
- Chaos Control. Chaos Control sucks. Really sucks. It slows time on about 90% to all objects beside Shadow. ALL OBJECTS. Even interface. Even DAMN CAMERA. So, in theory this skill sounds as cool one, but on practise it’s a pain. Beside, this skill is just RUINING the concept of speedruns and 2P where player on Shadow will just spam Chaos Control instead of using all range of Shadow’s skills. And believe me, Shadow has some interesting skills. Can only add that it seems, that developers are trying to make Chaos Control more and more unplayable with each update. What a great idea – instead of making skill balanced simply making it unplayable so no one use it.
- Chaos Dash. It’s basically a short teleportation. Sound basic and not interesting but… the thing is, that Chaos Dash can be used in any direction. Including upward. Which allows you to create so awesome ways in platforming no one would even think about. This skill is the best to find some interesting new ways, skipping part of stage and so on. Awesome skill.
- Chaos Spear. Cool skill, because the only range attack in game, makes the fight with bosses slightly more interesting than they are with Sonic. The only problem, i still didn’t get, why Chaos Spear can be charged, since damage doesn’t change.
- Chaos Blast. Default “destroy everyone around with all your energy”. Nothing interesting, but has very cool effect and overall has a great impact.
Overall, both characters are very fun to play and both feels very different. While Sonic is more fast, Shadow defeats enemies more effectively. While Sonic is better in platforming, Shadow can skip parts of stage with Chaos Control and Chaos Dash. While Sonic is more handy to play with controller, Shadow is better played on keyboard\mouse. Perfect.
Oh, also game contains sky stages with Tails on Tornado or Shadow with his GUN deltaplane. They are very dependant on timing, but controls are (suddenly) good and overall those stages feels fun and challenging. At least if we’re talking about first two stages. Third stage, namely Weeping Rift is extremely boring, annoying and unfair.
The bosses in this game are driving, offer a valid challenge, and, best of all, are pretty fair to player. Overall, I personally really enjoyed the boss battles. There are two bosses in this game that I find frankly annoying and boring compared to the others, namely The Vortex and “spoiler” (if you’ve been through the game, you probably know who I mean by the second boss (hint – it’s the last boss for Shadow)). They are noticeably more boring, repetitive, and less driving.
Okay, normally I wouldn’t write a separate part devoted to the difficulty of the game. But in the case of Sonic Omens, it’s really a very important element to discuss. You see, before installing the game, I saw a lot of comments similar to “damn, this game is unplayable, its difficulty is just too high, the worst Sonic game, because you can’t play it because of the difficulty”. “Hah, noobs whining,” I thought at the time. Oh, how wrong I was….
Guys, I’ve seen all kinds of shit. I’ve been through almost every Sonic game, and 70% of them I’m 100% through. I passed Unleashed 100%, I passed Lost World on 3DS 100%, I passed all the classic Sonics in the original with all the Chaos Emeralds (by original, I mean I restarted the game if I wasted all my lives). I even passed Sonic Advance 2 for the true ending. I say all this so you understand that I’m not just a random noob to Sonic games. I’ve been playing games since I was four years old, and I’ve eaten my way through Sonic games.
I officially declare that Sonic Omens is the hardest Sonic game I have ever played, and one of the hardest platformers I have ever run. At times this difficulty is fair and satisfying, I won’t lie, especially the bosses in terms of difficulty are straight up awesome. But at times this game is just banally anti-human. Some sections in it depend on nothing but luck, you can’t even notch them. A striking example is The Citadel of Lotus, where the spinning lasers are simply unpredictable, and it’s completely impossible to adapt to them.
One might ask, “Well, what’s the problem? Is high difficulty a bad thing?” In my opinion, high difficulty is not a bad thing, by any means. But I’m frankly worried about the question – who is this game designed for? When I think about who I can recommend it to, those people are numbered in single digits, because only really hardcore gamers can pass the game without tearing their hair out.
In addition, I am frankly concerned about moments in the game that depend on pure luck. Usually in games you either count on your reaction and adaptability, or on trivial stage memorization. But video games are not casinos. Adding completely random moments is simply tasteless, in my opinion.
story (spoilers alert!!!)
I am a wiki-writer on the Sonic Metropolis site, and, naturally, I am very curious about the plot of this game, so I intend to dwell on it in some detail. Before I start analyzing, I want to say that I know the storyline of absolutely all Sonic games, as well as the complete storyline of Sonic X. However, I have never touched the comic book universe in any way, because I’m a trivialist and I value my psyche. This is important to understand, because part of my criticism of the story of this game will relate specifically to what this game takes as the sources of its lore.
Obviously, the main goal of the Sonic Omens storyline is to explain some of the lore inconsistencies in the original Sonic games, in particular the reason for the absence of Chaos Emeralds and the bracelet given to Sonic by Chip after Sonic Unleashed (let’s just forget for a moment that Chaos Emeralds are announced to be in Frontiers).
But Sonic Omens itself does not shy away from experimentation at all. For example, Sonic Omens tries to incorporate the Sonic X storyline into the game’s lore. For those who understand the basics, this may come as a surprise, because Sonic X is obviously not canon for Sonic games, as it directly contradicts the events of Sonic Adventure 1/2, Sonic Heroes, Sonic Battle and Shadow the Hedgehog. So, what is the universe where the events of Sonic Omens take place?
And therein lies my main complaint about the Sonic Omens lore. I don’t have the slightest idea what universe the events take place in.
Let’s try to make some basic chains of logic to understand what’s going on. Obviously, the main bases for the Sonic Omens lore are Sonic X and Sonic Unleashed. But already here a contradiction is born. Sonic Unleashed obviously takes place after the events of Sonic X, which is physically impossible. For those who don’t know, I’ll explain in brief – in the story of Sonic X the world of people and the world of creatures like Sonic are separated and don’t coexist. Therefore, the division of the planet committed by Dark Gaia is physically impossible, because the destroyed world was clearly human, so Sonic, Eggman, Tails, and Amy could not have been there after the events of Sonic X.
Let’s try to put together a chronological chart of the Sonic Omens lore to see what the hell is going on.
So, since the fact that Sonic X is canonical cancels out Sonic Heroes, Sonic Battle and Shadow the Hedgehog, we get the following questions to be answered:
1. Why do Sonic and other similar creatures coexist with humans?
2. What’s up with Chris and why isn’t he taking part in the events?
3. How did Shadow show up in the game in the first place if at the end of Sonic X he goes on a journey through the universe, and why does Shadow work with GUN in the first place?
Also, I’ll add a little more confusion, since Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is just as canonical in the Sonic Omens lore. How do I know that? I know it from graffiti at the United Railroad stage “Marauders was here”.
4. This begs another question. If Sonic Heroes is not canonical and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is canonical, does Omega even exist?
Moreover, I will break your head even more, because Sonic 06 is just as canonical in Sonic Omens. Tails proves it with this line.
So in the end, this is what we have.
5. This, of course, begs the question – how are the characters even able to remember the events of Sonic 06?
In the game itself, we find the answer to only one of the questions I posed – namely, why Shadow is working for GUN. All other questions remain unanswered. Or do they? What if I told you that the game actually has the answer to the most important of these questions. The proof is this photo.
This photo, which at first glance seems to be a simple easter egg, already in the previous version of the game has caused me a lot of questions. Is Sonic in the photo with what appears to be a grown-up Chris in front of the GUN badge? Where did that even happen?
I won’t keep you waiting – I have the answer to what the hell is going on here. The fact is that some of the information, some canonical material for Sonic Omens is simply omitted from my scheme. It is this material that explains what happened between Sonic X and Sonic Unleashed. How can I state this so confidently? I can be sure of it thanks to this Sonic and Shadow dialogue.
Obviously, by “friend,” Shadow is referring to Chris, because Chris was the leader of GUN. See what I mean? It’s as if Sonic Omens is counting on me to know what Shadow and Sonic are talking about, even though I don’t know what the hell of all that. What does that tell you?
It’s obvious. The game relies on another, somewhat mysterious source of material – either the comics or some other fan game.
It is this material that seems to include the answers to all the questions I have posed. Hypothetically, from the information given in Sonic Omens, I can state the following about the Sonic Omens lore:
1. The world of Sonic and the world of humans HAVE merged into one long before the events of the game, thanks to Chris doing… something.
2. Chris is ALREADY dead, and Sonic knows perfectly well that he is dead. This, by the way, explains why Sonic doesn’t react when he finds out from Eggman that Chris died of old age – Sonic already knew about it. It also explains the very scene with Chris at the Wellspring – apparently, this dialogue between Sonic and Chris really already happened in the past.
This incidentally also explains the pact between Sonic and GUN the characters keep talking about – apparently it was a pact between Sonic and Chris to protect Emeralds, which happened somewhere in that very mystical source material.
All other questions, however, are not answered in Sonic Omens – I still don’t understand how the characters can remember the events of Sonic 06, I still don’t understand why Shadow returned from his interplanetary journey, and I still don’t understand where the hell Omega is.
And that’s my main complaint with the Sonic Omens lore – I don’t understand a damn thing. Someone might say, “Saef, it’s your problem that you don’t read comic books\don’t play other fan games and aren’t familiar with the prequel to Sonic Omens”. And I don’t agree with that. I followed the way Sonic Omens positioned itself plot-wise, and there was no question of any prequels – I knew for a fact that Sonic Omens continued Sonic X and Sonic Unleashed, but I had no idea that there was some third, mystical source of canon that I knew nothing about.
I also believe that I do not have to follow the development of the game, the statements of the developers and all other mashup in order to banal understand what the hell is happening in the game. I also don’t accept the “Saef, it’s stupid to judge the canonicality of Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood by the graffiti on the wall” argument. If that’s the case, then tell me, why should I judge the canonicity of certain events in the first place? It just so happens that Sonic Omens speaks in the language of easter eggs, and a lot of information is gleaned from such small things. For example, the same photo on the table in Tails’ lab literally answers half of the questions I posed.
Putting all the nonsense written above down to a simple sentence – either I don’t understand something, or the writers of Ouroboros Studio themselves are confused about their own lore. Either way, it annoys the hell out of me that I have no idea what Sonic Omens takes for a prequel and the game itself doesn’t hint at it in the slightest, so I have to sit around like an idiot parsing graffities, photos on the table, idiot dialogues of two hedgehogs just to figure out where the hell I am, who the hell I am and why the hell I am.
The game wildly lacks communication with the player. What prevented them from saying, “player, read so-and-so comic book, it’s important for understanding the events of the game”?. Instead, the game throws tons of easters at me, as if expecting them to be enough for me to understand what’s going on. In the end, however, I am left confused, frustrated, and dying of boredom.
2. Emotional context and character’s representation
I’m not going to lie, the ending of the game really touched me. The Exiled’s last monologue, Chip’s broken bracelet, Knuckles finally abandoning the Master Emerald’s guard, I found it all very touching and sweet.
I have to be honest, I was very pleased with Exiled as an antagonist. I really liked his motivation, his final bossfight, and the dialogues with him. The only thing that annoyed me about him was his habit of “speaking in signs”. I’ve always hated characters that cannot talk like normal people.
I found the presentations of Sonic, Tails, and Eggman extremely successful and appropriate. Sonic is very cool indeed, almost as cool as in Sonic X, but also moderately funny (it’s important to emphasize the word “moderately”). Tails is also very cool – determined, smart and extremely strong as a person, I really miss that Tails in modern games. Eggman reminded me a lot of himself from Sonic X, especially in the episode where he works alongside Sonic. This can’t help but feel good, Eggman from Sonic X was an extremely deep and interesting character.
But damn it. I hate, despise and spit on the image of Shadow in Sonic Omens.
You have to understand something. For me, Shadow is a special character. I always associate myself with him and follow his development as a character with great curiosity. And it’s always really frustrated me how some games spoil his image as a noble hero in the direction of an edgelord for children. In particular, I think games like Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Boom, and the Sonic X anime (season 2 to a large extent) have completely tainted Shadow’s image and reinforced the stereotype of him as a copy of Vegeta, which he never was before.
But I’m just astonished at the way Shadow is shown in Sonic Omens. The narrative representation of Shadow in Sonic Omens is the worst I have ever seen in my life. He is worse than in all of the above games and Sonic X. Whereas in them he was corny but at least epic, in Sonic Omens Shadow is a complete idiot, a complete villain and a completely unpleasant character. Shadow in Sonic Omens thinks it’s the right thing to do, to destroy an entire universe in order to GET RID OF HALLUCINATIONS. Shadow of Sonic Omens is so dumb that he’s been manipulated for SEVERAL YEARS by rusty GUN iron, and his dumbass stupid head didn’t even have a clue about it.
If Shadow, in his bad days, instead of being the noble hero he was in Sonic Adventure 2, turned into a childish edgelord, in Sonic Omens Shadow is not only a villain, he’s also complete idiot. And as if that wasn’t enough – the story doesn’t need him at all. Cut Shadow out of the story and NOTHING will change.
I will never forgive this story for what has been done to Shadow’s character. I haven’t felt cringe like I did during the bossfight with Maria in a very long time and I sincerely despise anyone who was responsible for writing Shadow into this story.
I have to admit, however, that aside from Shadow, this story has no glaring flaws. It’s emotional, dramatic and gives one hell of a message. If you don’t think about the lore, you’ll certainly enjoy it. But no damn way I’ll rate it high. In this case, I’ll allow myself to be subjective.
“No matter how bad a game about Sonic is, its music never disappoints.” Oh heck yeah. The soundtrack to Sonic Omens is just so damn great. John_R1se did an incredible job and gave the game music that will settle on my playlist for a long time.
It came as a surprise to many people, but to work on the main theme of the game the developers invited Bentley Jones, the well-known vocalist who worked on the main theme of Silver the Hedgehog from Sonic 06 – Dreams of an Absolution. Bentley Jones teamed up with John_R1se to create an absolute masterpiece that, in my opinion, is on par with the legendary Crush40 compositions.
The vocal compositions are not the only ones. The game has a great soundtrack that mainly focuses on heavy rock and calm orchestral music (depending on the mood). The music is wonderfully incorporated into the game and changes phases with the phases of the stage\bossfight. The objective quality of the soundtrack is very high, pretty much the level of a full Sonic game. I pass on my sincere admiration for the work of John_R1se – his work will stay in my playlist for a long time.
Perhaps the only drawback of this soundtrack is a couple of unoriginal tracks, particularly Eggman’s Facility from the White Jungle stage. I don’t know why they didn’t replace this track before the release version with such a great OST, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt the overall experience of the soundtrack too much.
I intentionally left performance and stability issues out of the review. Obviously, the game is extremely unstable at the moment, but I assume it will be fixed over time. It will be, right ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)? Personally, I would recommend waiting for those very fixes and then deciding if the game is worth playing.
“Is it worth it?” then you ask. “Is that even a question?” I’ll answer you, because it’s hard for me to imagine a true fan of the series not wanting to play Sonic Omens. For me, it’s practically a depiction of a dream game, not perfect, but perfectly setting a vector of direction. In this game I saw the best level design of any Sonic game at all, and that’s worth a lot.
Boss fights: 9/10
Story: 4/10 (say thanks for such a high assessment, scenario for the game is not a high school essay)
Overall experiece: 8/10 (don’t try to math, it’s not connected to average of others assessments)
HIGHLY recommended to play.