Sonic Dream Team Review

Hot on the heels of a new full-sized Sonic game in Sonic Superstars, the Apple Arcade exclusive Sonic Dream Team might not look like it has much to offer at first. It only has a dozen levels, and all you get control-wise are a D-pad and two buttons. For some, the fact that it’s only available on Apple devices (at least for the time being) is a non-starter all its own. But despite all that, Sonic Dream Team more than manages to justify its existence – in fact, its superb level design and bite-sized missions make it one of the most fun, creative, and enjoyable 3D platformers I’ve played in a long time.

Sonic Dream Team’s story kicks off when Dr. Eggman finds a device that brings his dreams into reality. This is obviously bad news for reality, so it’s up to Sonic and friends to work their way through four dream worlds and defeat him. Unfortunately the story is forgettable, lifelessly told through voiceover on top of still images, like a radio play accompanied by comic book panels. But even with its brief runtime, taking me around five or six hours to reach 100% completion, the levels between those cutscenes pack in more delights than many much larger games.

Each world is visually striking, with its own distinct set of enemies and interactive elements. That ranges from the Scrambled Shores, a tropical area filled with giant inflatable structures, to the Dream Factory, which has conveyor belts and pistons set over lava pits. I especially liked the third world, Nightmare Maze, which is like a colorful take on an M.C. Escher drawing, with shifting gravity that lets you run up the walls and onto the ceiling, reaching new areas in mind-bending ways. It’s the only world that really takes advantage of the dream concept, making it something of a missed opportunity that the other three are fairly standard Sonic settings. And unlike many other Sonic games, the music is auditory wallpaper at best and a repetitive annoyance at worst.

Each world is made up of only three levels, for a grand total of 12 in the entire campaign. While that may sound like a skimpy offering, they are all big, open playgrounds to run around, with plenty of offshoots and distinct areas to discover that break up the usual platforming – be that a room that’s all rails and pits or a long spinning tube wrapped in thorns you have to sprint over. That makes every one of them a joy to zip through and explore.

Running through the world feels fantastic.

Movement is fast and smooth, so running through the world feels fantastic. Levels are filled with various routes you can take that have rails and springboards to fling you forward, keeping your momentum going as you leap between platforms and bounce off enemies. You could still misjudge a jump or bungle an obstacle’s timing, but unlike some Sonic games, you’ll rarely ram into a blockade or spike wall designed to stop you from blazing ahead. Even when you do run out of rings or fall into a pit, Sonic Dream Team’s checkpoints are forgiving, so you’ll never lose much progress.

You only start out with Sonic and Amy as playable characters, but you’ll unlock two other pairs as you progress, each of which gives you access to a new ability unique to them. Sonic and Amy’s ability lets you zip through strings of floating rings that take you wherever the path leads, high or low; Tails and Cream can both fly briefly, and most levels have floating yellow hoops that replenish that ability mid-air; finally, Knuckles and Rouge can climb certain walls. All of these powers are fun to use, opening up new paths and opportunities in the levels depending on who you’re playing as.

Unlocking new levels requires you to collect a certain number of orbs, but you’ll never have enough to progress after playing the previous level just once. This means you constantly have to replay levels you’ve already beaten – that can be a major source of frustration in some games, but thankfully it’s not a problem at all in Sonic Dream Team. In fact, I actually loved replaying levels because of the way missions work, which make them function more like a Super Mario Galaxy stage than a typical Sonic world.

You start every level by selecting a mission that will reward you with an orb upon completion. Each level has seven missions, the first of which generally asks you to simply go through the whole level to unlock the exit. You can explore and collect items at your own pace during this first mission, but others are timed, making you excitingly speedrun the level. Other missions drop you in a walled-off section of a level and have you collect “orb shards” that are scattered around, asking you to slow down and explore intricately designed areas you might otherwise miss as you speed through the environment.

Excellent level design and diverse missions make this a blast.

Getting access to new characters also unlocks additional missions in previous levels that make use of their specific abilities, giving you a good reason to revisit them later on. For instance, you might have to collect an orb that’s waiting at the top of a wall only Knuckles or Rouge can climb. The excellent level design and those diverse mission requirements work together to make Sonic Dream Team a blast to play even with its seemingly limited number of stages. I was never frustrated to have to dip back into a level to complete another mission, as they always felt fresh and fun each time I went back.

Capping off each world is a boss encounter, which are all cleverly conceived but feel undercooked in practice. For instance, the first boss is a huge inflatable crab, like a balloon animal, so you have to pop its various body parts to defeat it. That’s a delightful concept and a great idea for a silly boss battle — but the crab only takes four hits to beat, so the fight is over before you know it. It just feels anticlimactic, and the same goes for most of the other bosses.

This being an Apple Arcade game, you can play it on most Apple devices. The touchscreen controls work fine on iPhone – it’s not as precise as using a physical controller (which you can also do), but it’s perfectly serviceable. On iPad, however, I found the buttons spaced too far apart for comfort, and touch controls in general started to let me down as I got to some harder missions later on. My favorite configuration was using an Xbox controller connected to a MacBook Air, which bucks any mobile assumptions by making it look and play just like a console game. The larger display also helps, because sometimes the camera pulls back for a wide view, making your character nearly microscopic on a phone display. Your save also syncs via iCloud, so you can pick up and play on any Apple device you have lying around, which is super convenient.

Exclusive: More The Casting of Frank Stone Details and Brand-New Screenshots

Dark mist, bloody meat hooks, and one, lonely killer — these are the sinister ingredients for Dead by Daylight, Behaviour Interactive’s asymmetrical survival horror game.

Since releasing in 2016, the popular multiplayer has repeatedly elaborated on this basic formula by mixing in great horror IP, like by recently adding ’80s murder doll Chucky to its killer roster and Alien’s unshakeable Ellen Ripley to its bank of survivors. It pushed open the doors to its dreadful universe by creating a half-joking dating sim and comic book series, but it’s never expanded its mythology as ambitiously as it plans to with Until Dawn developer Supermassive Games. After teasing a collaboration earlier this year, Behaviour announced plans at The Game Awards on December 7 to release spin-off game The Casting of Frank Stone in 2024.

To learn more about the interactive drama, IGN spoke to Dead by Daylight senior creative director Dave Richard, Behaviour’s head of partnerships Mathieu Cote, and Supermassive director Steve Goss in an exclusive interview. Though the studio leads warn that, like a powdery mummy, many of the game’s details are under wraps, they’re confident this is the game superfans have been waiting for.

“Some people really wanted […] to be able to live [Dead by Daylight’s] story more,” Cote said. “We’ve done that with comic books, we’ve done that in other ways. But a single player narrative game where you could literally lose yourself in a story that takes part in the same world as Dead by Daylight was always something we were hoping to do at some point.”

Naive players should also find plenty of reasons to get goosebumps, Goss says, because his studio decided “we’re just really going to mess with you” in gameplay.

“We’re going to take you where you don’t expect to go,” he continues.

Read on for our full interview with Behaviour and Supermassive, and to find ominous screenshots revealing never-before-seen bits of The Casting of Frank Stone.

Where did the idea for The Casting of Frank Stone come from?

Mathieu Cote, Head of Partnerships: The Dead by Daylight storyline and the lore progressed quite a lot from when we launched the game, now almost eight years ago, and the story in there was mostly told through the flavor text on add-ons, and offerings, and things like that.

As things progressed, we were able to tell quite a lot more of the backstory, but it’s always been a question we were asking ourselves: “How do we tell those really deep stories, the very personal stories? How else can we tell stories of the Dead by Daylight universe?”

Some people really wanted to be able to live those stories more. And so we decided to try a different medium. We’ve done that with comic books, we’ve done that in other ways, but a single-player narrative game where you could literally lose yourself in a story that takes part in the same world as Dead by Daylight was always sort of something we were hoping to do at some point.

And, so, when it came to putting that into reality. We looked at our options. And the first [team] we reached out to was Supermassive. If you’re going to do a narrative, single-player experience, there is sort of no other choice.

How many years in the making is this game?

Steve Goss, Supermassive director: I think we’re two years in now.

For Supermassive, what was most intriguing about this project?

SG: Well, I think we always look for really good, interesting opportunities to tell the kinds of stories we’d like to tell. This just…it fit together. It was, like, okay, you’ve got a deep, rich lore [in Dead by Daylight]. A really interesting world, a really interesting take on horror. And that was really apparent.

Then, we were asked what kind of story we’d like to write, so we had a whole bunch of freedom there. [We had the opportunity to add] other things we’d like to explore that perhaps don’t fit into some of the things we’ve done previously. So it was just a really nice opportunity.

How familiar with Dead by Daylight should players be to receive what you’d call the “full experience” of the game?

SG: I don’t think you need to know anything about Dead by Daylight to really enjoy the game. But I think if you like Dead by Daylight […], you will find the deeper resonances we’ve embedded into the story. So it should work for both types of players.

It’s a good story with terrible, terrible, terrible outcomes.

Dave Richard, Behaviour senior creative director: I’d like to add something really quick here, which I think is important, too, for our community. We have a lot of fans of the Dead by Daylight universe that are not Dead by Daylight players because they maybe don’t feel like going into an intense multiplayer horror setting is their thing. [This] will be their chance — they will be able to go to their own rhythm with a single-player experience.

It is the story of Frank Stone and the lives and the town that his crime touches

Why did you choose to feature a new cast of survivors and, maybe, a killer instead of using existing Dead by Daylight characters?

SG: From my point of view, it’s the freedom to tell a story. It’s the freedom to not have to explain how that ties in necessarily with long-standing and existing character narratives, nor does it undercut them or devalue them by giving them elements which aren’t what the community, fans, and players have already built up.

There’s also an element of being able to explore things that, because we’re not tied to an existing character, we can take some of the resonances of the deep lore of Dead by Daylight, and we can play with that in a more interesting way than [just] an interesting character design or structure. What is the story of the characters coming in contact with the truth of Dead by Daylight, you know? That’s a story which perhaps hasn’t been told as directly as we’re trying to tell it with The Casting of Frank Stone.

Now we’re in the year of Alan Wake, and I’m curious, what did you want to communicate by putting your main character’s name in the title, Frank Stone?

SG: I don’t know if I’m going to answer that directly right now. I mean, the story hinges and pivots on Frank. Frank is the center of everything that the story will deal with, but I don’t want to tell you quite how that will play out because there are a lot of layers in that story.

Let’s just put it this way: He is sadistic. He is a killer, he is… maybe irredeemable. Maybe we don’t truly understand him. But it is the story of Frank Stone and the lives and the town that his crime touches.

Would you call Frank Stone an origin story?

SG: Yes, at a certain point, this is very much an origin story. It’s very much about characters coming in contact with the truth and the underlying horror of [godlike DbD trial conductor] The Entity.

[But] I don’t think it’s an origin story for Dead by Daylight, I think it’s a gateway into that universe. After all, it’s just called “The Casting of Frank Stone.” It does tell you quite a bit about Frank.

Can Dead by Daylight fans expect a cameo from The Entity?

MC: It’s tough to be in the world of Dead by Daylight without The Entity having its say. I think I should stop there.

I’ll take what I can get. How different will gameplay be to the typical DbD experience?

MC: A better question would be, “How different is it gonna be to the other Supermassive games?”

SG: If you’ve played our games, you’re familiar with the style of gameplay that we do. And we’ve taken that and all of the values around the experience of playing Dead by Daylight and tried to bring those two together.

Frank Stone is not an online multiplayer, asymmetrical game, that’s not what it is. But I think when you play it, you’ll see a lot of the resonances of the way that Dead by Daylight allows the player to have agency within the world. And we’ve adjusted the way we want our characters to be controlled and the way we present choices to kind of dovetail into that.

It should feel familiar to a Dead by Daylight player on one level, it should feel familiar to a Supermassive game player on another level, but it should also be satisfying for both of those perspectives.

For newcomers, is there any benefit to starting with Frank Stone as either their first DbD experience or first Supermassive game?

SG: From the Supermassive point-of-view, this game completely stands alone. It doesn’t require you to have any experience of the Supermassive style — it has some of the elements of accessibility that our games are known for, but it stands on its own. And it tells a story which you probably wouldn’t structurally and tonally wouldn’t necessarily sit alongside Until Dawn or The Quarry.
Do you think Frank Stone takes the horror genre in an unexpected direction? Or is it following tradition, and, if so, what tradition?

SG: I think it will be unexpected. I think. One of the things we try to do often when we tell our stories is to subvert horror values. I think this is probably a slightly more of-its-age narrative than some of our other games, which tend to lean into key standards and tropes of horror. I’d like to say we mess with that more here.

What are you most excited about people experiencing?

SG: I’m most excited about the things I can’t tell you. There’s a lot under the hood, a lot hidden away. They’re gonna have the group of friends in Cedar Hills, in Oregon, that kind of is a very relatable, classic set-up for a horror story, and everyone’s going to understand that. And then we’re just going to really mess with you. We’re going to take you where you don’t expect to go.

MC: I love seeing the theorists, like, the people who speculate on what this could mean and, “Oh, that’s probably a sign that this is happening in Dead by Daylight. Oh, it finally explains why this, and that.” A lot of them are wrong, but some of them are right once in a while, and they’re always super entertaining. And I always see it as a beautiful symptom of the passion. People are so engrossed in our story, it’s like the classic wall of bits and bobs with red string all around, trying to connect the dots. […] I love this, I can’t wait.

DR: The whole project as a whole is a fantastic new endeavor for the Dead by Daylight universe. So, usually, when we introduce a character in Dead by Daylight, we have a title, we have a trailer that lasts for 30 seconds, a minute. And then, potentially later, we’ll add an archive entry that explores a little bit more of the story through text. But, this time, we introduce new characters in a fully playable setting, and I can’t wait to see the reaction from our fans.

Ashley Bardhan is a freelance writer at IGN.

Review: Batman: Arkham Trilogy (Switch) – Two Solid Ports, One Technical Disaster

Hand me the bug repellent bat-spray, Robin.

When it comes to superhero games, Rocksteady Studios served us up a trio of the very best examples of the genre with its superlative Batman: Arkham Trilogy. Whether you prefer the smaller scale and comparative intimacy of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the vast open world of Arkham City or the Batmobile-powered battles of Arkham Knight, there’s a lot of top-notch bat-action for bat-fans to dig into throughout this delightfully dark odyssey.

We’ve had our fingers crossed for a long time that at least some of the incredible Arkham games would eventually (bat)wing their way onto the Switch and now we’ve got the entire flipping trilogy to blast our way through. But how do they perform on Nintendo’s ageing portable machine? As expected, 2009’s Arkham Asylum, which debuted on PS3, plays fairly well. With scaled-back graphics and a 30fps target in the mix, it’s a solid port that gets the job done, even if it does with zero panache and a few more stutters and texture pop-in issues than we’d have liked.

Read the full article on

The Finals Review in Progress

If there’s one genre that lends itself to boom or bust, it’s the online shooter. For every success like Call of Duty, Halo, or Apex Legends, it seems like there are at least a dozen other games that have come and gone with barely a spark before they fizzle. With so many good competitive shooters in play, what makes one stand out? What makes it worth diverting your time to in versus another? After my first night of matches in The Finals, I think I’m starting to get a picture for how it answers those questions.

If The Running Man were about 3v3v3 gun battles, it would’ve resembled The Finals. The vibrant color palette combines with a pair of live sports-style play-by-play announcers to give it that over-the-top, American Gladiators feel that people in the ‘80s thought was going to be the future of sports. It strikes a great balance of not taking itself too seriously without making it a joke or becoming obnoxious.

There are two core “modes” to start with. Quick Cash has each team vying to collect a vault of coins and deposit it at a designated point on the map, which tends to result in a convergence of all of the three-person squads at those points. This is really effective for keeping the action moving, and because taking over the deposit doesn’t reset its progress, rounds move at a steady pace and avoid momentum-killing stalemates altogether.

This is really effective for keeping the action moving.

Bank It focuses a bit more on direct PvP battles, but they tend to be more scattered. Here, each player carries coins in their virtual pockets, coming from vaults around the map or eliminating enemies. The on-the-fly strategizing of going for kills one second to needing to deposit before it all goes to waste is exciting, and it’s pretty fun to eliminate someone at the bank and deposit all their coins yourself.

You can choose from three different weight classes for your character, and they all play very differently from each other. The Light build, for example, focuses on mobility, trading stopping power for a grappling hook to quickly get to high or far places. The Heavy, meanwhile, could have been taken straight from Rainbow Six: Siege, as it alternates between controlling the battlefield with heavy weapons and smashing through walls like the Juggernaut.

That destructibility is the real star of The Finals.

That destructibility is the real star of The Finals, from what I’ve played so far. Sure, you can enter a room from the door or window. But taking the less obvious path of crashing right through the ceiling is a thrilling way to get the drop on unsuspecting teams, and you haven’t really played The Finals until you’ve stolen the vault by blowing a hole in the ceiling and have it drop right in front of you. By the end of tense matches the battlefield is littered with debris from entire buildings beginning to collapse.

Matchmaking as a solo player is quick and easy, but it does have one glaring weakness. In matches where I either didn’t match into a full three-person team, or we lost someone, no one was ever pulled into our team to refill our ranks. It’s very disheartening to be in a match by yourself, knowing you have no shot to win and no reason to hold out hope that help is going to arrive.

One night in, I’m intrigued. The game show-meets-squad shooter vibe is working well for me, and the pace of the action is exciting. The way flying through the battlefield on a grappling hook or hulk-smashing through buildings mixes with the strict objective based gameplay feels novel, though how long that lasts with just two game types remains to be seen. What I do know is that I’m eager to keep playing, which is all I can ask for this early on.

Stay tuned for the full review after I’ve put in some more hours, and if you’re playing let us know what you think in the comments.

The Best Xbox Series X Deal: On Sale for Only $349

You can’t keep a good deal down. Both Amazon and Walmart have dropped the price on Xbox Series X all the way down to $349. That’s $150 off the MSRP of a phenomenal video game console. It even arrives before Christmas — and this would make a great Christmas gift. And if you’re lucky, you may even be able to get the Diablo IV bundle at Walmart for the same price (availability depends on location).

Xbox Series X for $349

Note: Make sure you are logged into your Walmart account to see the discounted price on the Diablo 4 bundle. And even then you might not see it, because it’s currently only available in select locations.

For the record, this is a far better deal than the $439 price we saw during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Sometimes it pays to wait, apparently, even during the biggest sale event of the year. But it probably doesn’t pay to wait right now, as stock will likely be limited, and the price could go up any time.

The Xbox Series X is a current generation system able to drive 4K games at up to a glorious 120fps. It is technically a more powerful system than the PS5 and games that are compatible with both consoles usually perform better on the Xbox console. Compared to the $300 Xbox Series S, the X features more powerful hardware to enable it to run games in 4K (the Xbox Series S runs games at 1440p).

The Xbox Series X also has a disc drive that can play 4K Blu-ray movies and physical game media and 1TB of internal storage. Diablo 4 itself as an incredible game. The Xbox edition retails for for $69.99 and the lowest it went for on Black Friday was $49.99. Check out our IGN Diablo 4 review.

Also check out our picks for the best Xbox deals going on right now, including a ridiculous bargain that gets you the deluxe edition of the Dead Space remake for $7.99 if you have Game Pass.

Check out more of the best deals on 2023 holiday gift ideas in tech and gaming.

IGN Awards Celebrates the Best Games, Movies and More

From Nintendo’s triumphant follow-up to Breath of the Wild to the hot pink perfection of Barbie and so much more, 2023 has been a landmark year for games and entertainment. Indeed, IGN has labeled 16 games, movies and TV shows a masterpiece over the past 12 months, with countless more worthy of your time and money. Admittedly, it’s also been a year of polar opposites, and Skull Island: Rise of Kong wasn’t the only stinker to receive a bad score (I’m looking at you, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey). The games industry suffered a huge number of lay-offs too, and Hollywood strikes put release calendars on hold as screenwriters and actors fought for better working conditions.

So while 2023 had its low points, we wanted to shine a spotlight on its successes and give recognition to everything that brought us joy, whether it was two hours of pure escapism in a movie theatre, being transported to another world for an experience like no other, or a moment that made us step back and gasp, “Holy fuck…”

As such, IGN Awards launches next week, a five-day celebration of the best games, movies, TV, anime, comics… Everything IGN, like you, is passionate about. Of course, as 2023 draws to a close you’ll see lots of awards lists popping up, but the IGN Awards aren’t distracted by what’s coming out next year and beyond. We’ve made sure that the list of awards categories is streamlined and focused, because we know you’ve only got so much spare time. We’ve made sure every award counts and is dedicated to something that you care about.

2023’s IGN Awards will therefore look a little different compared to last year. For starters, it’s no longer called IGN’s Best of – we wanted a name that better reflected the grandeur the winners deserve. That said, it is 100% still a celebration of the best of everything that IGN covers. We’ll still be crowning the best game and movie of the year, along with other returning categories such as role-playing game, TV series, anime show, and more. But we’ve also introduced new categories like Best Horror Game, Best Soulslike and Best Open-World Game, to reflect how gaming trends have changed over the past few years.

Elsewhere, we’ve asked the podcasting teams of Beyond, Unlocked and NVC to respectively pick the best PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo games of the year, because no one knows those consoles and games better than the people who talk passionately about them week in, week out.

While we’re exceptionally proud of all the winners chosen by IGN’s editorial team, we also want to know what have been your favourites of 2023

Finally, while we’re exceptionally proud of all the winners chosen by IGN’s editorial team, we also want to know what have been your favourites of 2023. Therefore you’ll find a poll alongside each award, which includes the same shortlist of nominees the IGN team picked from. Vote for the one you liked most in each category and we’ll showcase your winners at the end of next week.

So join us from Monday and throughout the week to see if your picks of the best of 2023 are crowned the winners. I’m certainly looking forward to sharing our choices, but more than that I cannot wait to see what moments made you shout “Holy fuck!” this year!

Alex Simmons is IGN’s Features Director. Follow him on X / Twitter.