Capsule Review: Sonic Runners Adventure

A level-based auto-runner starring Sonic and friends. Tap to jump, double-jump, and triple-jump/fly/forward-smash depending who you’re playing as. Collect rings, defeat enemies, and avoid obstacles while your character races forward to the end of the level. To pass the level, you must complete at least one of its three goals, which are generally about collecting a certain number of rings or defeating a certain number of enemies, sometimes as a specific character. Some levels loop a few times and some loop infinitely until you achieve a goal; otherwise you either pass or fail when you reach the end. On top of this are some Dr. Eggman boss fights and bonus stages where you can rack up tons of rings.

Between levels, spend accumulated rings on unlocking or upgrading characters (Teams Sonic, Dark, and Chaotix are all playable, but sadly Team Rose is not), buying passive bonuses in the form of Chaos, or buying one-shot ‘booster’ items. Notably, none of these items can be bought with real money - the game costs a couple of bucks up front but has no in-app purchases whatsoever.

Modern Sonic is a natural fit for this kind of gameplay, but this implementation is held back somewhat by sharp spikes in the difficulty curve. Most levels present at least one easily-achievable goal, so you can generally keep moving forward and come back later to hit more goals, improve your scores, and farm rings. But every so often comes a level where all the goals are significantly harder, presenting a wall you have to slam into a few times before you can proceed.

On top of that, your character runs really fast and it’s hard to see what’s coming up quickly enough to react to it. That’s okay when it means you just miss an opportunity for more rings or fall to a lower and less-valuable path through the course, as this just presents an opportunity to learn courses and improve your performance later - but far too often it means immediate death. It’s hard not to see this as a leftover from the franchise’s freemium past (the game reuses many assets and elements from the now-defunct freemium Sonic Runners), since you can spend rings to revive and continue. It’s easy to imagine these levels were designed to be a bit unfair, with these moments initially intended to prompt the player to spend premium currency or watch an ad instead. But with that monetization removed, it’s just frustrating level design without a purpose.

There’s fun to be had here, and I applaud the decision to release this game for a single one-time purchase. But to enjoy it for the long haul, you’ll need the patience to overcome the not-entirely-fair difficulty spikes.

I Stopped Playing When: I hit a wall in level 20, Eagle Eye. I died over and over to the bottomless pits, spending an ungodly number of rings to keep reviving and slowly and unsatisfyingly power through the level - but when I reached the end, I hadn’t achieved any of the level’s goals so I couldn’t move on to the next. Doing this twice with the same result soured the enjoyment the game had previously been providing and I put it down.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.