The program in question is Denuvo, as Ars Technica’s Sam Machkovech discovered on Tuesday, August 29. Designed to stop piracy, it doesn’t allow Sonic Mania players to play the game if their internet goes down, even if they have booted up Steam in its offline mode. This doesn’t appear to be the intended function of the software, as the game’s Steam page posted an update stating that “Sonic Mania is intended to be played offline” and the developers were looking into the issue.
These problems aside, Sonic Mania has received a rave reception from longtime fans looking for a more traditional platforming experience. Combining stages from the original games with brand-new creations, it’s the closest thing players have seen to a retro Sonic title since Sonic & Knuckles, and it gives us some cautious optimism for the series’ future. The next game in the series, Sonic Forces, blends elements of 2D and 3D action together in a similar manner to Sonic Generations. It also allows fans to live out their DeviantArt fantasies and create their own custom Sonic characters. Just don’t create Coldsteel the Hedgehog, as your game console will immediately explode in a fit of rage.
Denuvo began as a relatively robust digital rights management tool, but it has been less effective recently. Adventure game Rime released earlier this year on PC in addition to consoles, and it took just five days for someone to figure out a way to remove Denuvo from the game. Players also alleged that it was actually affecting loading times in the game. Resident Evil 7 was cracked in a similar amount of time, though Denuvo says that even just this five-day window makes a difference in sales for publishers, as eager players can’t wait to pirate games.