Besides the accompanying 3DS game, the other big new Sonic the Hedgehog title coming out this year is Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, and much like last year’s Sonic Lost World, the game will be exclusive to the Wii U. Both titles were definitely Sega’s main focus at their E3 booth this year, and I was curious to see what their new take on the turbulent franchise was like.
There were four different levels to choose from at each Rise of Lyric demo booth. I chose the first option and it started with a brief cinematic showcasing Sonic, Tails, Amy Rose, and a much more muscular Knuckles splitting into two groups to explore a new environment. While Tails and Amy did make brief appearances in the cutscenes, Sonic and Knuckles were the playable focus of this level.
Right off the bat, Rise of Lyric plays almost completely differently from just about every Sonic game before it. Things are much slower in terms of movement and navigation, with Sonic’s trademark dash mostly relegated to going off the occasional ramp to reach new places. The game looks and feels a lot more like the Ratchet & Clank titles as well, down to many of the environmental objects being destructible to gain more rings.
The controls were relatively fine, as I was able to switch between the two at will using the Wii U GamePad’s D-pad. I understand that the final product will be very co-op heavy, but what I saw was relegated to single-player. While Sonic is capable of his trademark bursts of speed, Knuckles seemed like more of a fighter, which came in handy for the numerous enemy robots that popped up frequently.
Indeed, Rise of Lyric actually puts in elements of old-school brawlers when it comes to dealing with enemies. From what I played, though, combat felt overly basic and monotonous, as I was repeatedly mashing the attack button and faced little in the way of variety or challenge. Hopefully the full game will have more difficult enemies and/or additional abilities for the characters to earn. If not, it might get a bit stale.
Besides exploring environments and beating up enemies, what looks to be a new key feature is the Enerbeam tether, a permanent new power-up that enables Sonic and friends to shoot beams of light and drag specific items around, as well as catch enemies off guard, lasso them in the air and throw them into other enemies. A boss fight in the later part of the demo relied heavily on this new mechanic, as I had to lasso smaller drones and throw them at the larger enemy to progress.
One last thing to note is that the back-and-forth banter between Sonic and Knuckles did come off as genuinely funny. While recent Sonic games have suffered from overly simplistic plots, they’ve also improved on the timing and delivery of their more comedic moments, and this looks to follow suit.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric will launch alongside the 3DS game, Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, this November. Stay tuned for more info.