One of the most popular RPGs in the world might just be a game that you've never heard of. Flash RPG series Sonny has gotten millions of players over the past decade between two different installments. Now, web portal and game publisher Armor Games has teamed up with developer Krin to bring a new Sonny [$0.99] game to mobile. It's not a sequel to Sonny 2, necessarily, which ended on a cliffhanger. Instead, this is a massive reboot with a new storyline, some familiar and returning characters, and an actual ending to the story. You play as the eponymous Sonny, a dude who has died on a boat, but thanks to a special serum from Louis, you're a powerful, conscious zombie. Louis gets killed by Zombie Pest Control Incorporated troops, who are out to get you because you're a zombie, and to exact vengeance on your initial ZPCI troop kills. After your escape, you travel through the world, meeting new allies, learning more abilities, and discovering that some of this world's zombie population are able to communicate much like you are.

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Sonny's an RPG all about combat, and you go into battle with a wheel of up to 8 abilities from a skill tree that you can upgrade. These abilities include standard, no-cooldown attacks, attacks with special effects that need a number of turns to recharge, and defensive/healing abilities. A speed stat determines how fast the turn meter fills up; this isn't an active time battle game, but instead time freezes when it's a character's turn, and certain abilities can effect the turn meter's filling for protagonists or antagonists. You control only Sonny but have two allies in battle that have their own attack and support abilities. Combat winds up being very strategic, as you have to utilize your abilities and their cooldown timers properly to win in the multi-stage battles that comprise the game.

Sonny reminds me a lot of Zodiac: Orcanon Odyssey [$4.99] in many ways. Both feel like they're going for the social RPG genre except done in a paid game style. Sonny is just a $2.99 purchase, and there's no IAP to be found. Zodiac may have been for different reasons, namely that they were still figuring out their business model well along the way of that game's troubled development. It showed in the game's many flaws. Sonny feels like a far more cohesive experience, and more like the game's existence is what it was intended to be rather than something repurposed late in development. Namely, Sonny feels a lot like a paid game through and through, rather than something that made a transition from free-to-play to paid at some point. That, or Armor Games just did a spectacular job at covering up any of the warts. In fact, the only real reason I'd say that any of the game feels like it was ever free-to-play is just because of its origins as a Flash RPG that provided roots for the social RPG genre as a whole.

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And as a social/casual RPG, you need to come in with accurate expectations for Sonny. There's no overworld, a basic shop that's available between levels, a space where you can grind enemies (that gives you cash and experience!), and that's pretty much it. All dialogue and story happens in or between battles, there's no exploration to be had here. It's just you going from one battle to the next. This can be good or bad. If you like RPGs without the cruft, well, you have yourself a cruft-free RPG here. If you enjoy some of the elements of exploring a world and talking to people, well, Sonny doesn't provide that to you. It's a mixed bag, but I kind of like that Sonny is about just plowing forward. Thankfully, the game giving you experience and money for the simpler grinding fights means that if you ever get stuck, you can get an edge by leveling up. Or, you can spend a few bucks on re-spec'ing your stats.

Re-spec'ing stats can be important, as certain fights all but require certain abilities that you can bring into battle against enemies. Re-spec'ing's costs increase over time, but is rarely so expensive that you shouldn't just go ahead and do it. If you have a lot invested in your elemental type, but wind up in a world where that's weak against enemies, you could re-spec to neutral abilities. Don't like an ability? It's not a huge cost to reset your entire skill tree. It's a very player-friendly system. The one thing about the big elemental type selection is that the initial introduction kind of tasks you with a weighty choice out of nowhere. And it can kind of screw you over early on as the third world contains fire enemies, so if you went for the fire elemental...welp. Still, being able to utilize and re-spec the skill tree is very handy.

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And Sonny is impressive because it has a definite strategic aspect to the combat, where your skills sometimes are necessary to use in combat, or have various affinities with one another even across the elemental skill trees that can make the order in which you deploy abilities crucial. The mid-battle evolution ability, where you can give abilities new effects as your evolution meter charges, is a clever way to give you some new advantages and cause you to change your tactics in battle.

Unfortunately, your allies being computer-controlled winds up being a bit annoying. For example, if you use an ability that greatly weakens an opponent's defense so you can use a powerful attack to deal a massive amount of damage, you have to hope that your teammates won't exploit that opportunity in an inefficient manner. Or sometimes you hope that they will do the right thing. I get that this is very much meant to streamline the game for its likely audience, but it does take away from the strategic aspect that Sonny is clearly going for. One thing I like is that if Sonny dies, you can continue the fight or end it right away. Your allies aren't going to be as good as Sonny is, so they probably won't pull the battle out, but if the last enemy is near death, they can sometimes pull out the victory.

Sonny is just a solid casual RPG. The battle-based structure makes it easy to play this one for just a few minutes at a time. It's got challenging battles, but it gives you plenty of options to try and get a leg up on any tough enemies and battles. It's easy to play and dive into, but has a surprising depth to the combat. It's lacking a few things, but is overall a cohesive, well-made game that fans of the original Flash games and newcomers should both enjoy. The game's 8 worlds should provide plenty of length for budget-conscious players, especially since the game's just $2.99 and has no in-app purchases at all.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Tanshui

    Sounds interesting - going to give this a try for my next trip. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Curious though - when you say "spend a few bucks to respec skills" - is 'bucks' currency in the game or are we talking spend a few USDs? I suspect the former cuz you said no IAPs of any kind but "spend a few bucks" typically has a very specific meaning you know? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    • Son of Anarchy

      There's no way to spend real money in game. Zero iaps.

    • Dora Breckinridge

      Hey there! Dora from Armor Games here. Thanks for giving us a try! There are zero IAPs in Sonny, or any ways for you to spend additional cash on it. Everything in game is purchased the good old fashioned way... money earned from slapping enemies around and picked up as loot.

  • Reign

    I have to be honest I was really excited for this but the whole "no over world thing" has put me off a bit, although I think I will still purchase it for support in a move towards an IAP free social RPG but what social aspects does it actually have? I'm curious.

    • Solarclipse

      No social aspects, like the article said it's more "social/casual" as a genre because of its beginnings as an online flash game. So no (in my opinion) nonsense about getting friends in or sharing etc.

    • Dora Breckinridge

      Dora from Armor Games here! Thanks for thinking of checking us out, and I hope if you do, you enjoy Sonny as much as we enjoy making it. Sonny has zero integrated social aspects. I suspect calling it "social" here means it's a bit less epic in scope than, say, a Final Fantasy, as well as being more accessible to pick up and play whenever you have time, but the closest Sonny gets to any social aspects would be if you took a screenshot of how pretty Veradux looks and shared it yourself for fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • http://www.twitter.com/BB8orR2D2 David

      I agree. Even though Super Mario Bros was just "level after level" it still had the "Overworld" 1-1, 1-2 where your character moved across it. I really enjoyed that aspect of SMB!

  • Lord Cupcakes

    Bought this in an instant. One of my fav games back during my childhood. I haven't finished the story yet but its really great so far. I have to admit I was a bit surpised with the price tag, I thought it could be have been set higher. Anyways, would love to see DLC IAP in the future.

    • Dora Breckinridge

      Wow, thanks so much for your support, and we're thrilled you're enjoying it! That's great to hear.

      • Far_Out

        It looked kinda interesting so I gave it a try not expecting much. It quickly hooked me bigtime! I'm not sure exactly what it is (intuitive interface? cool vibe?), but am having great fun with it. It has a certain charm. Thanks to the devs, hope this does well for you!

      • Dora Breckinridge

        What a great thing to hear! Thanks so much for your kind words and support!

  • GaussEX

    Oh wow this was an instant buy for me, especially since I loved the originals. Occasionally message and follow Kirin around haha. Anyways, the one thing I miss compared to the originals was the ability to set your companions to have a higher chance to do something. Like setting Vera to be defensive so he does less melee and lightning bolt and more healing stuff. I'm so annoyed when I have to cover heal for him. Also if possible could we view our allies' skill wheel? Somewhat of a nauseous that I have to test run a few times to see an ally's abilities or guess what something does like shadow strike.

    But overall! Great game! Awesome that Kirin is actually giving us an ending. The cliffhanger was somewhat Bs and then impossible boss fight to not have an ending was sad. Anyways, anyone who likes fire emblem or related tactics game should definitely try this.

    • Dora Breckinridge

      Thanks for your thoughts and opinions! I'll make sure I pass that feedback along to Krin and the team as we look at Sonny for the future. I'm just happy to hear that regardless of those sticking points you still enjoyed it, and appreciate your support!

  • JoelHarman

    great RPG game with nice strategies..

  • Derdy

    i have to say im a bit disapointed with how this game is compared to the original. first of, the equipments you get dont show on your characters when equiped unlike with the original. at least veradux looks good all the time. then there is your party not being controllable, i havent made it far yet but im praying that eventually i will be able to control my teammates but it doesnt look like it. veradux's heal and offensive dispell are too important to not be under your control. lastly i feel that the game requires a lot of grinding because i die from bosses a little too easily, even if i use gear that resists the boss's element and try to stun and/or dispell at the right time. the only thing i can think of is that i dont have enough levels to beat that boss or i havent leveled all of my gear to 5 which requires a lot of grinding.

  • Forrest Casper

    Been a sonny fan since I played the first one so long ago. I really want to play this one, but I'm wondering if it will ever come out for android?

  • Mike Flores

    just got myself back into ios for the first time in over 5 years, this game looks like a good place to start

Sonny Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 4