Old memories, I think I am going to cry
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Old memories, I think I am going to cry
Gonna be frank, this is gonna be a long and relatively in-depth review, so I'm gonna get these specific criticisms out right off the bat:
All the acid in the description aside, the AI for your partners in this game is unironically borderline random and it makes the touchier boss fights hell. Low on Focus? Good news, Veradux will cast Energize three times on himself at 10% health and then, once you cast Subversion on him so he survives the next incoming hit, he'll cast his heal for the first time in six turns and kill himself. You can always count on your partners to start whittling down the health of an undamaged enemy instead of finishing off the enemy's healer or main damage source during the only window of opportunity you have.
This finds a way to get even worse in the optional area, wherein none of the extra party members seem to think at all, never focusing fire, healing you more often at half health than at 25%, and never, not even once, will either of them cast Energize on you before double-stacking it on themselves. Bonus points for when you're fighting the Shadows optional boss and, try as you might to lock him down with stuns and focus bar control to keep him from firing off his one-hit kill spell, they both idle at max Focus and occasionally heal the 180 damage you took last turn. This sort of behavior is roughly the same between all AI pre-sets, though at Aggressive, they do become notably more suicidal. The decision to give your party members AI instead of giving you control over their skills was, far and away, the single worst design choice made and arguably, given the high challenge and proclivity towards puzzle-style boss fights, not to mention capped daily re-specs, was probably just the worst way to handle a party system here.
And that well-earned and fair, if not pleasantly withheld, criticism aside, Sonny holds up as one of the best Flash games ever made, and moreover, holds up as a good game in its own right.
The knuckle-dragging and frustrating AI and lack of control over your own party aside, the encounters are very well-thought out, with clear "optimal" builds for solving them but typically enough flexibility that you can beat them regardless of which class you chose.
Ah, don't choose Gunslinger. Don't do it to yourself. The Gunslinger's "optimal" end game set actually sucks ass for all of the optional bosses. It is perhaps the least supported class by the game's balance because it is the most likely to die to random nukes from the unpredictable AI. The other classes are all much more fair-feeling, and give you a strong sense that you could have at least foreseen the bad luck that killed you.
The skill tree offers a strong list of options for creating generalized or specialized builds, though the cramped re-spec option and the sheer amount of points that can be invested into a skill beggar the question of which college you're meant to obtain your degree from, specifically for making grinding Training Fights your lifelong career so that you can finally have 10 points in Regenerate AND some kind of attack skill.
The equipment offered gives you flexible options for every build, with the class-locked sets at the end notwithstanding. Dying too fast? There's a high Vit set you can farm for. Moving too slow? The shop actually has a helmet with a large Speed bonus - so on and so forth. For the most part it actually looks alright, with the Paladin set from the final story boss actually looking very, very cool, and the same goes for the moody yellow Gunslinger armor (Reminder: It's bad, don't wear it) in Zone 4. The art style might be a product of its time, but the art design is very on-point, very much so.
You'll actually find you get far, far more build flexibility relative to the expected scope of a game like this than you'll find in some RPG-lite AAA releases, as the equipment and skills you purchase will often totally alter your strategy and the position you inhabit during battles. It cannot go understated that this is a little fucking mindblowing.
So while Sonny's art style is inarguably what one would expect of a 13 year-old Flash game, that isn't to say it looks bad; in fact, the subtle camera pans, the screen shake and hit stop, and the sense of rushing forward the camera lends when firing a projectile keep the experience feeling brutal and tactile. Even though the art is simple, it is presented with what is inarguably a professional touch, such that even the screen-zipping anime dash the characters do to perform their attacks feels like it carries weight and doesn't feel ridiculous to watch over and over again. Once more, this is greatly appreciated, and is a little fucking mindblowing in exactly how smooth and correct it feels.
On that note, be careful about playing this game if Brave is your primary browser; my save files did not retain after reloading the page.
Now, I harped so much on those earlier points because they are the game's real flaws; the fights typically feel challenging and exciting, with a persistent sense of being doable, if only you made slightly better build choices. I very much enjoy the uphill fight that Sonny gives you, and am simply disappointed that the very generous and seemingly lovingly-crafted final area has fights that are outright unreasonable due to how little support your party gives you. Did you know Omen takes 50,000+ damage from Veradux's Acid attack? Good luck having him use it during the single turn of vulnerability he's open for.
Aside from utter brick-wall encounters like those, you'll generally get the sense that you're slowly winning an unfair fight in every encounter, as your blind amigo in the very first area implied. This is an element of exceptionally strong and intuitive game design that sits at the core of what makes Sonny a great game on its own, a classic even people who don't have a personal history with Flash games should take an afternoon to appreciate.
The music is great and still gets stuck in my head from time to time - it's an important part of Sonny's tone, which is this abstract mix of adventure, mystery, mild horror, and campy fantasy sci-fi all at once. An exceptionally unpretentious and video game-y tone that makes the world feel like a raw combination of fun and exciting ideas, as opposed to any singular gimmick. Thus, as short of an experience as the first Sonny is, it constantly feels fresh, and while it may be unfair at times, the endless Training fights let you know that you're almost never going to be stuck at an encounter *for too long*.
Sonny is an unforgiving, tactical combat RPG about magical(?) sci-fi(?) zombies(This one's for sure(May not be for sure)) with the bombastic musical pomp of a Fantasy game and the dark, brooding boss music of a damn SMT game.
The VA work, while sparse, actually hits professional grade for Veradux and Sonny, was pretty alright for Blind Anime Mom Dad, and the even more sparse enemy voices do their job well and sell you on the concept of the enemies you're fighting.
And the story, for what there is? Presented lovingly, through a few short cutscenes, and a sudden examination of Veradux's extremely pronounced stance towards moral relativism.
I have no idea how to encapsulate Sonny as a tonal or gameplay experience well; for all its faults, it is a borderline miracle of Golden Age Flash game development. Its tone and world excite and confuse me, and have kept me adoring these games for thirteen years now.
I have no goddamn idea how to explain Sonny, shorthand, to anyone while still getting my feelings across, besides expressing that they are for the most part still very pleasantly surprised a decade later and that I still don't really understand how this game and its sequel ever even *happened*.
So, I'll sum it up the only way I can:
Once upon a time, some people really gave a shit about making a good tactical RPG about zombies in a bootleg Shadowrun universe. They kept giving a shit until their first entry, while rough, became a legend that holds up to this day.
So play it, and take the time to appreciate the work that went into this free indie game during a time when the scene was *the* place to be for up-and-coming devs. Take a time to feel the unpretentious, raw, creative freedom of this weird, but very good, symbol of a few people's passion and diligence.
And don't play as a Gunslinger.
And don't play it in Brave.
And maybe beat it all before closing the tab, just to be safe.
<3 <3 <3 in LOVE
Aged very well. Still a solid game to this day
games fun forums lead to nothing only a assasin guide with barely any other info there also i keep running out of energy when there about to die how do i replenish energy otherwise i just have to wait to die