Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood Review (DS)
We here at SwitchRPG try to give you some compelling RPG options to try outside of the realm of the Switch. I personally have been checking into some retro titles that I feel I may have missed out on the first time around. Most recently I dusted off of the 3DS and picked up one of BioWare’s more “under the radar” titles in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Read on to find out if it’s worthy of taking the trip back to 2008.
Story has been BioWare’s bread and butter since the studio’s inception, and Sonic Chronicles attempts to weave a fascinating tale of mystery and danger while adding some lighthearted humor in a vein similar to Mario RPG on the SNES. For the most part, the story is a success although it takes a good 6 hours of gameplay…and a ton of backtracking…to get to the meat of things. Bioware manages to give us more development on some of the more obscure characters in Sonic lore, such as Big and Amy, as well as some solid development on anti-hero favorites like Shadow and Robotnik. Each of these characters have to be unlocked by reaching a certain point in the story, however. This is usually a time to feel rewarded for an RPG fan but, more often than not in this game…it just means a hefty amount of backtracking.
BioWare’s trademark “branch conversation” makes its return here, but I actually have no idea why. You can choose a polite option or a rather rude option as you converse with your teammates, but neither option adds ANY extra development to the story and almost no additional dialogue at all. Want to be rude to Robotnik and friendly to your buddy Tails? Want to flirt with Amy and give Rose the cold shoulder? Go right ahead, but the story won’t alter a single bit. The story’s ending is well worth touching on as it is one of the more unique and probably controversial ways to wrap up a story. I’ll avoid spoilers other than to say the “4th Wall” is busted through without shame.
The DS’s touchscreen controls seriously hampered my playthrough of Sonic Chronicles. The entire game is controlled by the movements of your stylus, and this causes the “Blue Blur” to move like the “Blue Blob.” The speed that Sonic is famous for is pretty much nonexistent with the exception of predetermined locations and cutscenes in which you will not be controlling Sonic anyways.
Sonic Chronicles attempts to use touchscreen controls to add depth to the turn based battles, but really only serves as a hindrance that instead adds little to the game’s depth. The player is meant to perform a series of taps or swipes in order to perfect an attack or combo, but it’s just not responsive enough and becomes a huge problem as opponents get rather difficult in the game’s second half. It seems that Bioware recognized this problem and added on a nice continue system with rings that Sonic accrues. It is an interesting concept, but the game just goes overboard on touch controls which only leads to frustration.
One of the most clean and pretty titles you will find in the DS’s massive library, each level is colorful and vibrant in design. Each character is very well detailed and the game even manages to add some gorgeous cel-shaded cutscenes. These cutscenes serve as a fantastic motivator to just grind through the gameplay for that impending eye-candy reward.
Sonic Chronicles simply leaves you wanting a little more depth if you’re a fan of BioWare’s other famous IP’s. This is one of the best stories Sonic has ever been involved in and it was really cool to see some of the more obscure characters get some love they otherwise haven’t gotten before. Seeing Robotnik team up with the good guys to combat a bigger threat was a really cool idea. Unfortunately, the story and graphics are just (barely) enough to make Sonic Chronicles worth a try if you’re a Sonic fan, or are simply a fan of BioWare in general. If you find yourself on a long trip and the Switch battery has already died, dusting off the old DS (or 3DS) and popping in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood can be just a good enough time killer to make it worth trying, though.