In a modern world where magic is real and the undead are commonplace you assume control of one of the legion of the undead. But you are not a nameless shambling monster. You are Sonny, with a mind all your own. You’ve come to on a ship alongside a blind man bent on mentoring you. His mentorship is cut short by the by the bullets of the Zombie Pest Control Incorporation — or ZPCI for short. With his final moments he gives Sonny a tape that he says is certain to help him. Sonny takes the tape to civilization meeting the acquaintance of a ZPCI medic who is secretly a zombie in full gear, a fellow by the name of Veradux.
The Sonny series was created by Flash game veteran Krin. Known best for his Senjid series, his games generally involve ability trees, straight forward quests, unanswered mysteries, and equipment as character advancement. Popular on sites like Kongregate and Armor Games — some content is locked to the Armor Games client which makes sense considering Krin is a business partner with Armor Games. It is believed by fans that Sonny 3, coming out later this October, will reveal a lot of the questions in the Sonny series.
Sonny 1 was released on December 28th, 2007 and Sonny 2 was released on December 19th, 2008. They had competition like Beowulf: The Game (PSP), Knights: Journey of Dreams (Wii), Dissidia: Final Fantasy (PSP), and Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories.
When I was younger I found the story of the Sonny games incredibly engrossing. What was on that tape? Why was a blind man on that ship? Did he revive Sonny? Why do Sonny and Veradux have sentience when most zombies don’t? Great questions but in my recent playthrough it seems more obvious that these questions may never be answered. And if they are I’m not confident that it will be satisfying. Between Sonny’s sudden and murderous mood swings, paradoxical character dialogue, and the sheer number of questions I have at the end of Sonny 2 I have serious doubts. I guess what I’m saying is play this game young and forget this section if you want to enjoy the games fully.
Sonny 1 and 2 are turn based RPGs where Sonny must mow through hordes of enemies and bosses with the accompaniment of AI companions. Sonny can acquire a series of abilities based on his class and how the player distributes his ability points along his skill trees. These skills can then be equipped to one of eight slots on an action ring around the opponent, or around Sonny or his allies for buffs.
Every area has a shop where Sonny can acquire sub-par gear, fight training fights where Sonny can get that sweet sweet XP and get gear that actually matters, and fight in plot fights where Sonny can continue the story with yet another fight. Sonny 2 also introduces the ability to alter AI companions basic behavior by setting their ‘stance’. This subtly alters their AI and sets them to be more or less offensive or defensive in their ability use.
Each of the classses does a good job of being effective in combat in their own way. Figuring out how they work and what ability combinations work together are fun and satisfying. It’s a pity though that The Hydraulic class is locked to the Armor Games version but considering the relationship between Krin and Armor Games it’s not surprising. And just for the record, my preferred class is the Psychological.
I don’t know why but my favorite character in the series is Ed Spencer. Don’t remembe Ed? Haven’t met him yet?
Motherfucker doesn’t give a shit that he’s talking to a goddam zombie. He just wants to get from A to B on the train. He’s got artifacts for sale and I’m not gonna bother haggling and I’m definitely not going to steal from this guy because he’s the only living thing on this train and that frightens me.
The voice acting, cut-scenes, and visuals are overall far better than I would expect from a flash game. Even though Veradux will often say, “I’m gonna knock you silly” three times in some fights the dialogue is usually well delivered if simple. I’m tickled pink hearing Veradux say, “Agh! There’s a knife in my face… again!”
Now if only the character motivations made any goddam sense. Sonny seems like a decent guy but sometimes it seems he chooses to murder defenseless people simply because RPG combat demands that his opponents die. Even though battles commonly end with some dialogue and a fade to black. I just can’t draw a bead on who Sonny or any of the characters really is and because of that I don’t know who to root for or why.
I have no idea what my allies are capable of. Well, I know what their techniques are but I don’t know how the stats conferred by their equipment alter the effectiveness of these techniques. I keep giving them higher leveled equipment but I have no idea whether its helping anything or not.
As far as I’m concerned the story is total word salad at this point. I don’t know who Louis was. I don’t know why the tape was important. I don’t know why Sonny and a few other undead are sentient. And at this point and I just don’t care. Most of this story telling is really tropey and created with the thought of , “Oh man, wouldn’t it be cool!” Wouldn’t it be cool if the mentor in the first game was a blind man who could smell zombies? Wouldn’t it be cool if there was this mysterious object that holds the key to Sonny’s future? Sonny 3 is going to have to try really hard to tie everything together.
The game is pretty good! I might not like the story any more but the systems are so deep that I’m more than willing to overlook that. I love tinkering around with my kit and build especially in the face of special and unique bosses or interesting enemies. I’m actually pretty excited for Sonny 3 to come out. I hope it’s good and ties everything together but I have serious doubts. Like the others in this series, this game is completely free.
Next Week: Au Sable