SAGE 2021 - Demo Sonic Momentum (Alpha Release)

I did not have fun playing this game...kinda

I don't hate that it tried to be different, in fact, I was really excited to play the game when I saw the previews back in 2020 to 2021 (I also know I'm 2 months late to this game's release, I have no concept of time), but viewing a game is much different than playing it. Take this review with a grain of salt or even a bucket's worth, this is just how I felt while playing the game and I'm just some dumba$$ on the internet. :P

For reference, I played Alpha Version 4.0

1. Visuals

This game looks great, no doubt about it. My only issue with the visuals is the camera, specifically when it pans in and out (fullscreen). I don't know anything about game development and I'm not going to pretend I do, but it's like the foreground/background are stuck to a vector-like layer trying to preserve the quality of the pixels by shrinking/shifting them when the camera pans? This might just be me but it definitely hurts the eyes at first (though this could just be the screen tearing). Also, I see what you were going for with the dynamic camera in fixed areas, but it sucks for platforming/homing on enemies where we need the FOV the most. I saw videos from alpha 2.0 and I think the camera stayed zoomed out for the most part. (maybe add an option to turn on/off dynamic camera zooms or something?)

2. Music

10/10. No complaints here. There isn't much else to talk about here since there are only 4 tracks in the whole game.

3. Menu

Why was the down button set to the ESC key???? Haha just kidding, that was my fault. The menu feels great!! :>

3. Gameplay (Movement)

This is where things get a little dicey (in my opinion). For starters, the tutorial stage is not good. There's too much to read in the hints and it's hard to read the hints. If you can, please keep them short and simple and add a box behind the text. Visuals are also helpful for getting a point across. Then comes the actual level you can mess around in; Running/Platforming feels fine, a little heavy but manageable. Running fast enough fills a Momentum Meter, which lets you go faster when it's full. (it's also important for another mechanic). Plus, you can perform a Forward Dash by pressing the Jump Button in midair.

Then we get to the new Charge and the revamped Spin Dash. The Charge allows you to pull off a pseudo-Double Jump, a faster Forward Dash, and if you're fully charged next to an enemy, the Homing Attack. The Spin Dash works like the Classic AND Adventure games, hold down the Jump Button when crouched to rev up and let go to burst left/right. Pressing the opposite direction while rolling instantly changes the direction and, if your Momentum Meter is full, can send enemies flying into the air. Personally, I don't like them.

The Charge breaks the pace of the game and the "Double Jump" halts your momentum (kind of ironic, huh). The Spin Dash has a lot more friction to it, while you can still gain more speed by rolling down hills, you will lose speed and even come to a complete stop if you try to roll uphill (the complete opposite from the classic/adventure games). Thankfully you can uncurl to keep your speed while going uphill, but it's still an odd change. Though these moves can be applied to speeding through the stage, their best use-case scenario is my least favorite part of the game.

4. Gameplay (Combat)

Jesus Christ. Lord Almighty. Holy S#!t. Alright, let's get straight to the point. There is a very specific way you are supposed to fight enemies (specifically the Egg Pawns), one I didn't know about until after I played the game and watched the developer play the next day (it was in one of the hints inside the tutorial but. You already know my stance on that). To keep it simple, I'll explain what you're supposed to do. In order to fight enemies fast and efficiently, you need to attack them in a way that knocks them into the air, then hold the Action Button to charge while you're on the enemy so you can deal proper damage.

THIS IS SO HARD TO GET RIGHT. At first, it was definitely because I was bad at the game. Eventually, I got better and then it became a problem because of the game itself. Enemies will sometimes bounce in the opposite direction after hitting them into the air (it's even worse when they touch a wall in midair). The Egg Hammer is especially floaty, and rolling into it will sometimes send it flying faster than you can run. The first Enemy Arena in the bottom path isn't even wide enough for all of the enemies that spawn, even one of the Egg Pawns has to spawn on top of the Egg Hammer. If you're thinking that the area is wide enough because of the slope to the right, I didn't include it because the enemy has to be thrown into the air when they're ON the slope. Otherwise, they will land and you will be harmed because of it, you incompetent fool. In other areas, it's only annoying because you can bounce off of other enemies trying to pull this combo off, sending you out of the rhythm and onto a different enemy (still happens in that beginning area). Coming back to the Momentum Meter, if you build up enough momentum, you can chain multiple Homing Attacks together on one or more enemies, but the Egg Pawns/Egg Hammer have too much health to make this an efficient attack against them.

(Developer don't read this for my sake) I found a glitch you can perform where you knock the enemy past the Arena Barrier and charging a homing attack on that enemy will let you pass the barrier. I was happier when I stumbled upon the glitch so I didn't have to perform actual combat in the game and I could finish the level faster.

Why is the combat so clunky though? I could only come to one conclusion, and it's because Sonic is too fast.

:000 <-- (you reading this rn)

That sounds ridiculous, right? A complete 180 from Unleashed's nighttime stages is this game's weakness? Well, only for the combat. I got used to the physics of the new Charge and Spin Dash just fine, but when it came to fighting in the Enemy Arenas it was still hard to get into a good rhythm. Constantly flying over enemies, enemies bouncing off walls, getting hurt by an Egg Pawn when it landed on the ground even though I was still charging. Maybe if Enemy Arenas had different controls or something? Maybe even a QTE, I don't know. I do know that someone is banging their head against their monitor trying to tell me, "If you don't like fighting the enemies, don't fight them!!!" This is a very good point AND brings up my last problem with the game.

5. Scoring

I love getting that perfect S Rank in Unleashed/Generations, there's nothing more fun than being rewarded for blasting through stages at blazing speeds without taking even a single hit, and I actually started having fun when It was just speeding through the stage after getting to know the level design. I probably didn't get the fastest time, ~1:30 but it felt so good to get that sweet, golden S/D Rank... wait, what?? Yeah. The scoring system in this game is split into two ranks; one for Time, one for Rings. Rings aren't entirely scattered around the stage anymore. The majority of your rings would be obtained by defeating enemies(I forgot to mention that quickly chaining hits on enemies gives you a combo score which dictates how many rings you'll receive from the enemy and sometimes I think you'll get a wisp if you finish off an enemy with an S Rank combo. No, I will not talk about the wisps or shields because this review is already long enough and I don't care about them).

Eventually, I was able to get an S/S Rank because I'm a perfectionist and I will cause problems for myself until I get it right, but at first, it was like the game slapped one-half of my face for playing the game the way I wanted to and kissed the other side of my face for good luck. The only way I could get a double S/S Rank was by collecting more rings, meaning I had to fight the enemies (It wasn't so bad going back to get the S/S Rank since I knew how to beat the level properly ALSO FOR SOME REASON DEFEATING THE EGG HAMMER REMOVES 30 SECONDS FROM YOUR TIME WHICH,,, COOL??? BUT ALSO I WASN'T INFORMED OF THIS IN THE TUTORIAL WTH). I'm not a fan of this either, it just feels unnecessary to separate the score like that. Maybe if timed ranks and score ranks were separate modes rather than a split rank? I don't know, probably just me.

6. Final Thoughts

Again, take in with a truckload of salt. I could gripe about other small things; like how there are too many actions mapped to one button, you can't use the joystick on a controller to move, the game audio is too loud on startup, etc., etc. Overall, as a decently experienced player now, this game isn't too bad. Learning how to play sucks and Sonic's speed doesn't mesh well with how you're supposed to fight "beat-em-up" style, but I still enjoyed myself when I was just rolling around at the speed of sound- unironically. I'll keep in mind that it's only an Alpha though because I've been following this game for a year and I can tell that Bane has put a lot of effort into this project. Even though this review wasn't positive, I still think the concept of the game is really cool and I'll keep supporting it!

... I am ashamed that I spent 5 hours writing this what am I doing with my life
Once you master the controls the game becomes an absolute blast!
Prime the hedegog
Prime the hedegog
how do I go to sweet mountain?
I couldn't open it I tried downloading it again I tried ignoring the errors but at the end i couldn't open what am i doing wrong?
Ok this might be the winner for me alongside with sonic riders x, for this sage. Super cool concept, and execution, great visuals (although they made my pc scream of pain sayusuahsuhaush) and overall, great way to continue the dimps line of games on handheld (just wish less bottomless pits on later levels) using a bunch of their ideas in a new spin.

Is funny how this game has much of the ideas i have to inject new life in sonic games, even in the visual side, but doing in 2d (since much of what i idealize was for a 3d game). The momentum system, spin loosing traction on uphills, walls and slopes, the system of changing momentum with the press of a button to a new direction, but also surprised me with its implementation of combat and platforming mechanics. What we have in this alpha is already a very cool idea with solid mechanics and execution. Gonna keep a close eye on the development of this one (and if it's going to have a public code so i can look on how you managed to implement the momentum system based on advance 2, 3) . Sad i'm not quite used to coding yet, would love to help with such a cool concept.
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The controls are a little "wonky", but once you get used to it, the game's pretty fun.
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