Sonic Boom : Rise of Lyric is a spin-off game released for the Wii U alongside Sonic Boom : Shattered Crystal for the 3DS. Both games are the third and final game released as part of the Nintendo-Sega partnership (to all the people who hated this deal, rejoice).
The Wii U game itself is an action adventure game with both 3D segments and 2D segments where you get to play as four characters that you can easily switch between, although some part of the game make you play with two characters.
Some thoughts before we begin
I've played through the entirety of the main campaign, which took me a grand total of about 13 hours which, nowadays, is definitely substantial. Already I've been hearing mixed reactions to this game. Some are positive. Some are negative. Some are rational. Some are nonsense.
Some of you already know my thoughts on the game so let me immediately say it here. I liked it. I really did. I honestly believe that Sonic Boom : Rise of Lyric is a decent game to pick up and play. It will certainly not be one of the best games of the year, but when it comes to Sonic games, my expectations never fail me.
The story of Sonic Boom RoL is very basic and easy to follow, but it's definitely more substantial then the previous recent Sonic games, including Colors, Generations and Lost World. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy are chasing Dr. Eggman through a jungle where they stumble inside an ancient temple.
They explore the temple to find a way out and end up accidentally releasing an imprisoned evil named Lyric, a cyborg snake who was trapped for a thousand years.
What's strange is that according to him, Sonic is the one responsible for it, even thought Sonic has no idea what he is talking about. Now that he is free, Lyric decides to set his plans into motion : to collect seven gemstones called the Chaos Crystals and use their power to eradicate all organic life on the planet and replacing it with technology. Of course, our four heroes must work together to stop him
Meanwhile, Eggman attempts to control Lyric, but fails and ends up working for him, but of course our good doctor always has a plan in mind to take on both Sonic and Lyric.
Like I said, the story is very straightforward and there aren't really any major twists. It's just a typical video game story, but one that is well paced, entertaining and harmless.
One thing to note is that, since this game takes place before the show, it does offer a few insights on the world of Sonic Boom, like how the heroes got the Enerbeams and where did the biplane come from.
The gameplay is always the most important thing in any video game and, in my opinion, RoL does a pretty good job at it. There are various non-linear gameplay segments scattered throughout the main campaign. These include exploration segments, combat segments, puzzle segments and speed segments.
The exploration is by far the game's biggest strength. Especially when it comes to the Hub World. The Hub World is very big. Much bigger than any of the previous Sonic games. There are a lot of places to just wander around and just admire the scenery as well various hidden areas. The only thing missing the Hub World are random people walking around. Without them, the huge world feels a bit empty. There are people to talk to, but they are only here to provide side-quests. Even the levels themselves have various areas to explore.
This is also where all four playable characters feel the most different since there are various areas where only a few characters can access. Right of the bat, this is a very good aspect of the game since it's been so long since the last time we were able to play as characters other than Sonic.
The combat is also pretty basic, but not as repetitive as one might think. There are three buttons to use. The Y button for normal attacks and charge attack, the X button for special move and the A button for Enerbeams. The fights themselves aren't particularly easy, but they aren't particularly difficult either. It is possible to mix up the combat if you truly know how to take advantage of your own abilities, like Sonic being able to hit multiple enemies with his Homing Attack and Amy being able to reflect projectiles by using her hammer. It is also possible to upgrade your characters by completing side-quests or by using upgrade stations.
The game is also more forgiving than the previous games. Taking a lot of damage is easy, but it's also just as easy to recover since all the rings you lose get scattered around, enabling you to recover quickly. There is also no life system to speak of. When you get hit with no rings, or if you fall offstage, you are immediately brought back to where you left off. The only thing that happens is that you lose some robot parts you collected by beating up enemies.
The puzzles in this game are fairly simple. They mostly amount to either activating various switches to proceed, or walking on blue light panels. But they do help mix up the gameplay and they do get more and more difficult as the game progresses.
The speed sections are mostly used as roads to access the various levels in the game, but there are speed sections within the levels themselves. These are the parts that tie back to Sonic's roots and, I have to say, they are the part where I had the most fun. They are all fast-paced and they do rely on you recognizing when is the right time to jump, break through obstacles or use the Enerbeams to swing around on ziplines.
There are also a few other minor segments like the boat segment and the submarine segment.
In short, the gameplay is extremely varied and pretty non-linear. Even the boss battles are varied as they each utilize one of the previously mentioned gameplay elements. None of them are particularly epic, but they are definitely better than the ones in Sonic Lost World.
I've heard a lot of people claim the RoL is filled with bugs and glitches. Throughout the entire 13 hour campaign, I only found one glitch where I accidentally jumped at the wrong time during a speed segment late in the game and ended up falling through the floor. I died, restarted back and easily avoided doing it again. RoL is perfectly playable.
A lot of people are quick to pick on the graphics, saying that they look unpolished and unfinished. Honestly, they don't look that bad. I do agree that these aren't the best the Wii U or the Sonic franchise have to offer (The award for best graphics, IMO, goes to Sonic Generations),but I disagree that it looks like something out of the Gamecube or the Playstation 2. The same thing goes for both the character models and the frame rate. Not the best, but not as bad as most people say.
The soundtrack of RoL is pretty good, like pretty much every Sonic game. Once again we have no vocals, but we do have lost of music that are meant to be atmospheric and match the various environments the heroes explore. This is another reason why the exploration is by far the best thing in this game. It just sounds peaceful and relaxing.
There are a lot of collectibles in this game. These include robot parts that can be spent on building various parts of the Hub World as well as to unlock certain upgrades and crowns that unlock various concept arts of the game. If you are a completion, these might keep your hands full.
Sonic Boom : Rise of Lyric is a pretty decent and fun game to pick up and play. It's not one of the best Sonic games out there and I can't really recommend you to buy it or to buy a Wii U just for it, but if you really want to, I'm sure you'll have fun as long as you know exactly what you are in for. This is not like the previous games. This is a Sonic Boom game. A game meant to give us a taste of what the brand new world of Sonic Boom is like and the game does it's job well.
My final score for Sonic Boom : Rise of Lyric is a 7 out of 10, which for me means that this game is Decent. Nothing epic and spectacular, but it's not garbage. Not in the slightest. Consider it a B rank material.