Sonic Frontiers

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Sonic Frontiers – Review

Since 1991, everyone’s favourite hedgehog has been cruising around at the speed of sound across SEGA’s entire console history, all the way to modern consoles. Taking over for ‘Alex Kidd’, Sonic has been the face of SEGA and a pop culture icon for over 30 years. His early games made him the cool alternative to rival Nintendo’s ‘Mario’, focusing on fast-paced gameplay, which was ahead of its time, in the 16-bit era.

His transition to 3D games hasn’t been the smoothest however, even with some success along the way, gaining traction to race back to the top has been a constant struggle, after a long streak of not-so-good games. Fortunately, his reputation has still somehow remained intact thanks to his diehard fanbase, the live-action movies, 30th Anniversary Symphony, the comic series by IDW, and the upcoming Netflix show. SEGA aims to finally get the Blue Blur back on track with their latest title, Sonic Frontiers now available on PlayStation 4|5, Xbox One, Xbox X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

The game’s story was written by Ian Flynn, the current head writer for the Sonic comic series by IDW, which has seen huge success since issue #1 in 2018 and still going strong today with over 50 issues plus various spinoff miniseries. He’s also done various other work for other Sonic media and franchises. His reputation speaks for itself and along with SEGA going all out with their latest title, sets expectations high for Sonic’s latest adventure.

While investigating the mystery behind the Chaos Emeralds being drawn to the Starfall Islands, Sonic, Tails, and Amy Rose gets pulled into a wormhole to a digital realm called Cyber Space, and only Sonic was lucky to escape. He is then approached by Sage, an artificial intelligence created by Dr. Eggman to control the ancient technology found on the islands. Sonic must find a way to save his friends by exploring the large islands filled with ancient ruins and populated by surviving Koco. They’ve been overrun by evil robotic Titans, which come in various shapes and sizes, providing whole new and bigger challenges Sonic has never faced before.

This is actually his first real foray into open-world gaming and makes great use of his abilities. After watching the opening cutscene, players get thrown into a Cyber Space level at Super Sonic Speed which sets the tone for the adrenaline-filled adventure that awaits. The beginning of the game is focused on exploring the island and learning Sonic’s new moves, with helpful tutorials for players to live and learn. From the moment players start exploring their new surroundings, it becomes clear that this Sonic game is unlike any other.

The controls feel incredibly responsive and are a major step up from previous games. Running around vast open lands and grinding on rails at high speeds has never felt so good. The sound effects, visuals, and animations are done so well, that you could almost feel the wind flowing through Sonic’s quills. Players have even more control than ever over how and in which direction they run, giving them a real sense of freedom that fans have been requesting for years.

There are 5 different islands for players to explore, collect various items for upgrades and find the Chaos Emeralds to progress the story. Players will also encounter a wide variety of new enemies small, big and gigantic that will really push Sonic to his limits. Battling these enemies isn’t as simple as spin-dashing into them repeatedly. Sonic now has a wide array of attacks that utilises his speed and hit with huge impact at high velocity. Adding to his established moveset, he can now create mini tornadoes around enemies, shoot projectiles, and more. Each enemy requires a different approach to take them down, keeping players on their toes. The bigger enemies act like mini-bosses and require more effort to defeat, but are always a ton of fun, and slaying each one has an incredibly satisfying feeling.

The gigantic boss battles are truly something to behold. Sonic must run to the top, and grab the last Chaos Emerald to transform into Super Sonic. His Super form gives him the power he needs to take on these colossal titans. They can fly around so fast and charge straight into the bosses at such high velocity, that players can feel the power resonating through them. It’s safe to say that boss battles in Sonic games have reached an entirely new level.

Even though the realistic graphics make Sonic look out of place, the environments look incredible while Sonic is in motion, but looks a little outdated when taking a closer look. There are also a lot of environmental pieces in the distance that pop in. It feels like the game struggles to keep up with Sonic, having to constantly load in parts of the island as he blitzes across. This can be a little problematic while players are trying to work out how to get up to certain platforms and can’t see the rails and other platforms to get there. Like most adventure games, the camera can be a real issue and obscure the player’s view but is also designed to provide dynamic camera angles to showcase the action. Fortunately, these are only minor issues and don’t affect the overall enjoyment of the game.

Exploring the islands does somewhat feel like a faster version of Breath of the Wild, but some of the boss battles actually feel like a faster version of Shadow of the Colossus. While running up giant enemies, players now have more control than before. You actually are controlling Sonic the whole way, instead of it being a short cutscene or quick-time event.

The Cyber Space levels add a nice touch of nostalgia, with their designs paying homage to Sonic games of the past. They’re much like some recent Sonic games, switching between 2D and 3D platforming with simplified controls. Even though they’re not as exciting as they could’ve been, they are still fun to play by completing all the tasks, getting that S rank and receiving more Vault Keys.

One thing that Sonic games have always done incredibly well, is the soundtrack, and Sonic Frontiers has even more of that. Exploring the islands has more sombre music that perfectly fits the calming atmosphere, fast-paced techno during the Cyber Space levels, and hard rock music for the gigantic boss battles which will really get your blood pumping because, from the moment it hits, you know the battle is on!

The songs “Vandalize” by One Ok Rock and the main theme “I’m Here” have been used a lot for all the promotional materials, but the game actually has over 150 tracks to discover with various singers, spanning over 6 hours. SEGA has been doing an incredible job promoting this game, by giving enough information without overdoing it and allowing players to discover the rest themselves.

The Sonic franchise has a whole world full of diverse characters with distinctive personalities, many of whom even have their own dedicated fanbase. Unfortunately, many fan-favourite characters do not appear in Sonic Frontiers, but the characters who are featured, have their best-known voice actors reprising their roles. Roger Craig Smith voices Sonic once again, Colleen O’Shaughnessey is back as Tails who also voiced him for the movies, as well as Cindy Robinson, Dave B Mitchell, and Mike Pollock as Amy Rose, Knuckles, and Dr. Eggman respectively.

It’s been a long time coming for fans to really step into the shoes of the blue hedgehog. Even though it’s a little rough around the edges, Sonic Frontiers is a huge step in the right direction and is no doubt the premiere Sonic game we’ve been wanting for the longest time. The feeling it gives you is unlike anything that’s come before it. It has to be played to be believed. This game could very well be the beginning of a new age of Sonic games, as its future has never looked brighter. The possibilities are never-ending. Sonic is here, reaching far across these new Frontiers.

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The Good

  • The Sonic game we’ve all been wanting
  • Playing as Sonic has never felt so good
  • Very responsive controls
  • Large open worlds to explore across 5 locations
  • Story written by Ian Flynn
  • Wide variety of enemies
  • The most epic boss battles ever
  • Absolute banging soundtrack
  • Voice actors reprising their iconic roles

The Bad

  • Graphics look outdated in parts
  • Camera angles can be an issue
  • Texture pop ins
  • Fan favourite characters absent

Written by: Sammy Hanson


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