Sonic Dream Team delves into the psyches of Eggman and Cream
Sonic the Hedgehog has a new game coming next month that combines its high-speed 3D platforming gameplay with the replayability and discovery of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Sonic Dream Teamdeveloped by Sega’s Hardlight studio, also features a unique setting – the tangible dreams of Dr. Eggman – and a completely new character in the Sonic-verse.
Sonic Dream Team, which Polygon played at a hands-on preview event earlier this week, borrows from a variety of influences. Its levels take inspiration from skateparks, with grind rails, halfpipes and looping trails, as well as Christopher Nolan’s impossible dream architecture. Creation. The levels are brightly colored distillations of Dr. Eggman’s dreams, filtered through Sonic’s friend Cream the Rabbit.
The skate park inspired levels of Sonic Dream Team are designed for players to run multiple times and with multiple goals in mind. In some of the levels I played, set in the dream worlds known as Scrambled Shores and Dream Factory, I was tasked with finding keys to unlock new paths, completing the objective within a time limit assigned or to find a hidden object. A level’s architecture will change depending on the objective and players are encouraged to revisit levels again and again. The levels are full of hidden collectibles, including blue coins and red stars scattered throughout.
Cream is playable, single-player and in 3D for the first time in a long time.
Image: Sega Hardlight/Sega
Certain collectibles and areas can only be reached by certain characters. Sonic the Hedgehog is playable and his friend Amy Rose plays identically on the blue blur. Tails, Knuckles, Rouge the Bat and Cream the Rabbit are also unlockable and playable. Both Knuckles and Rouge can slide and climb walls, giving them access to places other characters can’t reach. The same goes for Tails and Cream, who can fly around levels for a brief period.
The good news is that for players who want to collect everything in a level, they can switch between any unlocked character halfway through. The only caveat is that they must remain still during this operation; you won’t be able to fly high as Tails and then switch to Red in mid-air, for example.
Sonic Dream Team isn’t focused on combat, the developers say. Instead, the enemies scattered throughout the levels are designed to help players maintain momentum, as they rush in and crush them using the characters’ boost attacks. The developers want to put players in a flow state, where they can chain together jumps, slides and dashes to get through levels smoothly. The hope is “lots of replayability” with Dream TeamShort session levels, with players shooting for 100% completed races and increasingly faster times.
Some of Dr. Eggman’s dreams are darker than others
Image: Sega Hardlight/Sega
There is also an overall story in Dream Team, told through voice-acted in-game cutscenes. Venerable Sonic villain Dr. Eggman discovers a dreamcatcher-like device called Reverie, which Sega describes as “an ancient device with the power to manifest dreams into the world real “. Ariem – a play on REM sleep – who is introduced in Dream Team as its guardian helps Sonic and his friends understand the powers of Daydreaming. Ariem, anthropomorphic sheep, is an original creation by Sonic Dream Team and was created by Hardlight and Sonic Team artist Yuji Uekawa.
Sonic Dream Team is coming to Apple Arcade and will be playable on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. I played the game on a Mac Mini at a recent hands-on event using a PlayStation 5 DualSense controller and found the game’s controls snappy and intuitive. Hardlight did a good job making its Sonic game very fast and playable, thanks to a mostly cooperative camera. I had a little less fun playing it on iPhone using a touch screen, but I was never a fan of on-screen virtual controllers.
Sonic’s new standalone adventure comes to Apple Arcade on December 5. It is not yet known whether it will be available on other platforms, but in the foreseeable future, Sonic Dream Team is exclusive to Apple’s game subscription service.