Josh and IF bring up a point that has been really urking me with this game. I'm fine with a character, dialouge, plot driven Sonic game. I don't mind seeing all of the characters interact with one another and trying to develop the world and story a bit. But the things is, it's gonna take a lot of effort to get me to take it seriously. And this game's attempts at trying to find the right tonal balance for Sonic aren't gelling with me at all. From the out of place constructivist styled UI and Graphic Design, trying so hard to create an image of oppression and resistance. To the cheesy shonen style narrative they're going with, having some entity that's "Stronger than the main character", forcing him to break limits and eventually overcome it. That's so...not Sonic. At least not the Sonic they've been trying to push this whole time. This could have been an interesting concept. Not the fact that Eggman succeeds, but the fact that he now has control over Sonic's world. He can sculpt and warp it in any way he sees fit! It's a wonderful opportunity to flesh out the world, by using the environments to demonstrate how beautiful and bizzare it is, and how it contrast with Eggman's own bizzare creativity. Less, "Space Ports" and "Weapons Depot", and more Carnivals, Propaganda Machines, Museums chronicling his excellence. (Stuff Sonic Mania did really well). Planet Wisp, to me, is still one of the most fantastic Modern Sonic levels, fuck it, Sonic levels ever. They establish the plot of the game real early on, and they also try to get you acquainted with the Wisp by having you mess around with their abilities. You get to Planet Wisp and the environment subtly transitions from a colorful, spacious, alien landscape, to a boxy, dual tone, construction site. The background carefully goes in and out of showing you bits of the landscape, and as you get further into the level you can see the tractor beam restricting the planet. The camera even pans up just so you can see the chain. The danger the Wisp are in is now properly conveyed. And you actually care, because you like the Wisp. They're such a neat mechanic that let you explore more of the game. So now the motive for saving them is perfectly established. This is all complimented with a minimalistic, melancholy musical piece. No cheery synths or poppy drums like the rest of the game, but string swells and pianos that help really set in stone, that things are getting a bit more serious. Absolutely, beautiful. That stage left such an impact on me, if nothing else because it was such a tonal contrast from everything else. Sonic Team, CAN do this stuff well. They're more than capable of it. But this...this just feels so (mind the pun), forced. Like now I have to care about the world being corrupted, because I'm already seeing it happen. I have to join the resistance, because the world is already screwed. I have to care about Sonic's turmoil because I saw him lose. And I have to be excited about it because I get to work alongside him. But where's the buildup? What establishes my reason for caring about this world other than the fact that Eggman is a bad guy? Why should I care about Sonic's struggle to win when I already know he probably will? Why should I care about recycled hill being in danger for the 20th time? Why should I take any of this seriously? Maybe I shouldn't. But then why try to establish motive, and create context if none of it actually matters anyway? Nothing they've shown off about the story so far makes me want to care. Maybe I'm being too critical, but this is totally out of left field. They make such a ridiculous premise in one game (Eggman wants to suck the planets energy to power a robot or something), and now in the next canonical game that alleged same world he's actually conquered. and I'm supposed to be what? Shocked? Surprised? Intrigued? Well...I'm not. I'm just kind of underwhelmed.