At EGX 2022, I was lucky enough to get hands-on with Sonic Frontiers and loved the latest iteration in the Sonic franchise. So, it’s hardly surprising that I was incredibly excited to check out the full release when it came out on 8 November 2022. But now that I’ve spent some time with it, has my initial impression changed?
Sonic Frontiers is different to every Sonic game I’ve ever played. Sure, you can head into Cyberspace to play fast-paced platforming on rails, similar to old Sonic games, but that isn’t where this game stands out. (Don’t get me wrong, the Cyberspace stages are not only much fun but also crucial to progressing the story!).
Sonic Frontiers stands out because you can free-roam with Sonic in full 3D for the first time. Controlling the little blue hedgehog as you explore vast islands is a true joy. It’s also impossibly easy to control and fun to go charging onto railings, jump-pads, and more as you explore up, down and all around. It’s not open-world in that it’s one gigantic area, though it’s multiple different islands, all with open-roam elements and feeling and looking very different.
The basic story is that Doctor Eggman goes to the Starfall Islands to steal the mysterious technology found there. This opens up access to Cyberspace and causes the Chaos Emeralds to be drawn to the islands. Sonic, Tails and Amy head to investigate and get sucked into Cyberspace before being deposited around the islands.
In the game, you play as Sonic and must combat enemies, solve environmental puzzles and zip around as you collect the items you need to unlock the Chaos Emeralds. The plot in Sonic Frontiers took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting something with so much depth, and I found myself hooked on the story and the trials Sonic faces. Some elements might get lost on new people to the franchise, which is a shame, but it will still be gratifying.
While there is a sort of skill tree in Sonic Frontiers, it isn’t that deep and combat. As a result, it always feels natural and works well. The boss battles require skill, speed and timing but ultimately feel epic. There are side-quests, mini-games and more to explore as you progress through the islands. The enemies and environments all feel unique and different, so it never feels repetitive, either.
Sonic Frontiers Controls
Sonic Frontiers controls very nicely, both in the more traditional platforming sense as well as during the free-roam elements. I will always want to play Sonic games with a controller, though, and thankfully, the PC version has fantastic controller support.
Overall, I had no issues mastering different moves, although I will admit in certain areas, the timings of moves proved to be a challenge, and I found myself repeating puzzles/fights accordingly. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, but if you’re one to get frustrated easily, then it’s something to be aware of!
Audio and Visuals
Sonic Frontiers is a next-gen game, so you would expect it to look good. I reviewed the game on PC, and I can confirm it does. The animations could be a little more polished in cutscenes, but overall, Sonic Frontiers delivers visual wonder.
The game takes you through several open-world style islands to explore throughout the story, which really made my jaw drop. The locations are next level. From desserts to open grasslands with waterfalls, each island offers something new, and the views can be breathtaking. On a few occasions, I slowed down to enjoy the vistas. This translates into the Cyberspace stages, too; they feel like classic Sonic levels (with nods to older design features) but very much enhanced for the time. With so much going on at once and to take in, I will admit I fell off the map more than once, not a flaw with the game but more my ability to focus on the level design than the super-speedy blue hedgehog I was supposed to be controlling!
The music in Sonic Frontiers is different than I’m used to in a Sonic game, but it works perfectly. Tomoya Ohtani has created a score with a lot more drama and atmosphere to suit the islands that Sonic is exploring as he tries to find his friends and the Chaos Emeralds. Several heavier rock tracks play during battles with the island bosses that ramp up the tension and action without overtaking the gameplay. From a sound effects and voice acting perspective, everything here is on-point.
Is Sonic Frontiers Worth Buying?
Sonic is a perfect blend of open-world action adventure and 3D platforming. It brings something new to the Sonic franchise while still having that frenzied fast-paced platforming experience. In my opinion, Sonic Frontiers is perhaps the best Sonic game since the original trilogy.
It sounds good, looks better, and is fun to play. From exploring the islands to the more traditional Sonic-style levels found in Cyberspace. This is a new era for Sonic and a very welcome one.
To find out more about Sonic Frontiers, head to the official website.