Sonic Frontiers Review
As far as games are concerned, Sonic the Hedgehog is in some sort of reemergence phase. Over just the past year alone, the Blue Blur has released Sonic Origins and Sonic Colors: Ultimate, even making it big at the box office with the Sonic 2 movie.
All of this momentum has been building up to Sonic Frontiers, an all-new “open-zone” game that’s looking to be one of the biggest efforts from the team to date and the latest entry in the long-running series featuring our favorite hedgehog.
Putting Sonic in an open-world setting sounds like a long-overdue concept, and we’ll finally be able to see if the game is actually worth the wait!
When in Doubt, Blame Robotnik
Anybody who knows anything about Sonic games will surely point the finger at Dr. Robotnik when something goes wrong. Sonic Frontiers is no exception, and this time, the doctor is in pursuit of some ancient power that brings him to an unknown dimension.
Where there’s Robotnik though, you can also be sure that the gang isn’t far behind. Unfortunately, Sonic finds himself alone in unknown lands and must find his friends to stop the evil doctor, all while handling an unknown entity that’s in cahoots with the evil doctor.
By Sonic standards, Sonic Frontiers’ story doesn’t exactly break the mold, but it is serviceable and something that’s simple and entertaining enough to see through from start to finish.
Where no Hedgehog has Gone Before
Apart from Sonic himself, the new star of the game is definitely Starfall Islands, made up of vast areas that can be explored. The game really lives up to the title, as the various areas are expansive enough that even Sonic himself would take time to run around in.
When not rushing to move the main questline forward, exploration is definitely advised as there are quite a number of activities around the world that Sonic can engage himself in.
Previous games feature loads of ramps, rails, and bumpers that take Sonic from one area to the next, sometimes accessing new areas with rewards. Sonic Frontiers has all of these just weirdly floating around in the environment, allowing players to solve puzzles and earn rings and other items through curiosity.
Oftentimes, it is curiosity that will reward players, as it’ll take a lot of figuring out where the starting point of a rail sequence is located to run through the whole course and reach the end. Since we are now moving across a 3D world, exploration is really a key feature that’s put front and center in Sonic Frontiers, because these sequences will also reward players with the items needed to advance the storyline.
The act of wandering around feels like a mini-puzzle of sorts, in a good way, and really puts an emphasis on making the world a huge playground for Sonic. The level itself will also feature passageways and puzzles that require the use of these rails and ramps, which is a good way of incorporating these iconic Sonic elements in a new setting.
Sonic Bringing the Knuckles
Danger awaits, and Sonic has more than enough tools at his disposal to emerge victorious. Apart from his usual spin attack, Sonic is pretty well-versed at using his fists and kicks, eliminating various enemies but also potent enough to take down even massive Guardians, behemoths that are both challenging and breathtaking.
These Guardians come in different shapes and sizes, pretty much looking like the foes from Shadow of the Colossus, and require certain strategies to beat them. It’s pretty cool that these giants can’t completely be taken down by brute force alone, so the puzzle element being added is a nice touch.
Sonic Frontiers also introduces players to a skill tree that will give Sonic new moves in his arsenal to help with taking the baddies out. Some environmental puzzles will also require the use of these abilities, so a bit of imagination is definitely a must.
The game also features an RPG element, where Sonic can obtain items used to level up when he meets an Elder Koco, one of the new species you’ll meet in Sonic Frontiers. You’ll get to increase your speed, attack, and ring capacity, along with skill points that can be used to access new abilities from the said skill tree.
Blast From the Past
Players looking for more traditional Sonic levels will be happy to know that Sonic Frontiers has them in spades. Called Cyberspace levels, these are accessible via portals around the world and will resemble classic Sonic levels for the old-school gamer.
These levels will have various objectives for players to complete, rewarding them with precious Vault Keys. Each level is repeatable, so players can basically treat these as challenge levels as they try to cross out all objectives for more rewards.
It is clear that the team has respected Sonic’s origins (heh), not just in terms of the various callbacks and obstacles, but also through its great use of fantastic audio tracks that range from the mellow and atmospheric music of the open-world to the upbeat tracks during the aforementioned Cyberspace levels.
Fans used to Ben Schwarz’s performance in the Sonic movies may be a little disappointed here, but the overall quality of the performances of the cast in Sonic Frontiers is commendable. Plus points for also including the iconic sound effects like the ring sounds that really bring character into the proceedings.
One Giant Leap for Hedgehogkind
Sonic Frontiers is a logical step for the franchise, bringing the blue blur and placing him into an open-world setting that players can have fun with. Each of the explorable areas has its own visual properties, and if anything, moving around the world as Sonic is a novelty of its own.
Being an open-world game, Sonic Frontiers is not free from the usual open-world tropes that make it rather formulaic when all is said and done. The land is vast, but also feels a little too empty, and activities and enemies are spread too far to make the moment-to-moment gameplay engaging, exacerbated by the fact that there’s hardly anyone you can interact with.
At some point, the map will be filled with a massive number of icons that may get tedious to run through all of them, especially the items needed to advance the story. Level layouts can also get repetitive later, with the same overly simple environmental puzzles being reused.
What We Liked:
- Fusion of new and old elements
- Simple but fun combat
What We Didn’t Like:
- Activities can get repetitive after a while
- The world is vast but feels a bit too empty
Verdict: Buy It!
Sonic Frontiers is a great new adventure for the blue blur. While it suffers from the overly-used open-world gameplay mechanics, it is certainly a fresh experience to see Sonic run around in vast expanses of land while interacting with classic Sonic elements.
Sonic fans can think of the game as a 2-in-1 experience thanks to the classic gameplay brought about by the various Cyberspace levels scattered throughout, invoking a sense of nostalgia that’s as challenging as it is enjoyable.
Despite its hitches, Sonic Frontiers is the jolt that the franchise needs and is a step in the right direction, despite this step being marred by generic open-world tropes that can get tedious as players progress through the game. It’s serviceable enough for both newcomers and fans and will certainly dictate how the franchise progresses moving forward.
*Sonic Frontiers was reviewed on a PS4/PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.