Preview: Sonny and Strategy
**UPDATE** Like Sonny? Sonny 2017 is now available on iTunes for $2.99!
When it comes to Krin’s cult classic RPG Flash series Sonny, even more than the confusingly handsome zombie heroes, the one thing the players love is the strategy. If you’ve been worrying that the upcoming Sonny game would move away from that, let this preview soothe your fevered brow. While it’s designed to be winnable without grinding for extra levels, the catch is that doing so relies on some thoughtful planning and tactics. Even players who do decide to grind an extra level or three will find the game to be a challenge if they just go in swinging thinking might makes right. Let’s take a look at how combat in Sonny works, and how skills are used to gain the upper-hand and keep you alive. Of course, we won’t be revealing everything in this article… we have to keep some things a surprise, don’t we? Visit the Sonny Press Kit for more, and follow the official Sonny Twitter account.
… uh, or in Sonny’s case, not any deader than you already are. Look, zombies are complicated, okay?!
As you may already know, Sonny is a turn-based RPG. While the green health bar is self-explanatory (don’t let that deplete or you’ll lose the fight!), the blue bar beneath characters represents Focus. When Focus is filled, it’s that character’s turn to attack, be they friend or foe, though only Sonny can be manually directed. While every character has a basic attack they can use over and over, most skills have cooldowns so that you have to wait a few turns before you can use them again. How long you have to wait varies depending on the ability, but as Sonny levels up, you’ll unlock new abilities to use that you can choose to equip on your skill tree with a wide variety of affects. Some skills are passive, meaning they apply an automatic bonus you can’t manually activate, but can be extremely useful nonetheless… Expose, for example, gives every attack Sonny lands a chance to reduce an enemy’s defense by a large amount for the next hit.
Understanding the balance between Focus and skills can be the difference between glorious victory and painful defeat. To use a basic example from the early areas of the game, let’s say you have a powerful enemy with an attack that can K.O. whoever it hits. You could try just defending, but wouldn’t it be easier if the attack didn’t happen at all? An ability like Sonny’s Break will actually stun an enemy it strikes, making them miss their next turn, and completely cancelling the enemy’s powerful attack. You could also use this to temporarily disable an enemy who has boosted itself until its power-ups run their course.
But what if you’re facing multiple enemies? Since you can’t order your teammates around, how do you get them to attack the target you want? Well, an ability like Sonny’s Wound not only temporarily causes incoming attacks on whoever it targets to do more damage, it also makes the other party members more likely to target that enemy as well. You can make use of skills like this to take out foes who are healing other creatures, or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves, more effectively. This is doubly helpful when considering that certain party members have skills that deal damage more easily against specific enemy types, like heavily armored baddies who may be weaker to corrosive attacks.
Of course, all this is no good if you aren’t planning and watching your timers. Since you can’t spam skills over and over, it’s important to watch your enemies and learn how and when they use their attacks to fight back. This goes double for healing, since ways to recover health are limited, and factors like being poisoned, burned, or otherwise debuffed can put a big hamper on things. You’ll need to look for patterns, take note of how many turns pass before a certain ability is used, and of course, pay attention to any hints your party offers up. There are even certain items you can find and equip that bestow passive bonuses, like Haste or Lifesteal.
There are a lot of other factors that come into play during combat, of course. Take the Frost Wolf in the above screenshot… notice the icon above its health and status display? That means it has the Blood Hunger ability, which allows it to recover half of all the damage it deals as health. Taken with a small enemy like this, it might not seem like such a bad thing, but when enemies come in packs with different abilities that play off of one another, they can become devastating. Many enemies, especially boss characters, will have a massive pool of hit points and much higher stats than Sonny and his teammates, so those seemingly minor buffs get a lot scarier. Add in enemies that are resistant to certain types of damage, or those that deal negative status effects, and, well, you have a game where brains rule before brawn.