Sonic Frontiers is a wild rollercoaster of an experience. One moment I’m fishing tires and coelacanths out of a lake with Big the Cat to laid-back lo-fi. The next, I’m fighting kaiju-like titans to early 2000s punk rock.
Ironically, for a franchise with gun-toting lifeforms and giant death egg robots, this should feel familiar. However, mainline Sonic games have been surprisingly risk-averse to major gameplay changes. But with its new combat system and “open-zone” environments, Sonic Frontiers leans into everything that makes the hedgehog special and succeeds for it.
Related: How Good Is It? Sonic Frontiers
Progress through Motion
In Sonic Frontiers, Sonic must traverse through the ruins of Starfall Islands to rescue his friends from cyberspace. The game incorporates limited RPG mechanics, allowing players to upgrade Sonic’s abilities. As you explore the island, you’ll meet creatures called “Kocos” that will help you uncover its secrets. Sonic must collect keys to unlock chaos emeralds scattered throughout the islands before facing the game’s titans, powerful machines guarding the island.
This game has a more dramatic tone than most Sonic titles. Roger Craig Smith delivers a more somber performance as Sonic. The open-zone areas are accompanied by a moody score, while the cyberspace levels are backed by energetic dance music. Furthermore, the game features 150 new tracks, some of which feature Sleeping With Sirens vocalist Kellin Quinn.
In Frontiers, the player is given the freedom to decide exactly what to challenge next. I could try for an S-rank in a cyberspace stage, hunt for keys from guardian enemies, fish, or complete side quests. However, I’d often end up having fun just running around each island.
That freedom of choice extends to finetuning Sonic’s speed. You can even adjust his turning, boosting, and top speeds. Although I personally found no need to adjust these settings, these are welcome additions to a franchise that’s struggled to translate Sonic from 2D to 3D.
A Phantom Rush
Gameplay in Sonic Frontiers is often euphoric. This game is the most fun I’ve ever had playing as Super Sonic. Its boss battles are cinematic and memorable, but the journey to get to them is even more fun. Each island has its own platforming challenges and enemy types. Enemies are diverse, and each island’s “guardian” enemies offer unique experiences. Some enemies even use the series’ long-term gameplay mechanics, such as rail grinding.
Unlocking abilities gives a rewarding sense of progression as you learn to chain moves together. Combined with the new Cyloop mechanic, the new abilities feel powerful and enable you to deal lots of damage to enemies. My favorite was the new Phantom Rush ability, which boosts the player’s attack when the game’s combo meter is full.
Overall, the hedgehog’s latest adventure across the Starfall Islands brings a mix of old and new gameplay mechanics that give players a refreshing freedom of expression as they save the day.
Sonic May Cry
Sonic Frontiers has some flaws that hold it back, such as collision issues in open-zone levels and slippery cyberspace-level navigation. By the later stages of the game, it can start to feel repetitive. The game also makes the strange choice to lock the “true” final boss behind the hard mode.
If players die too often, the game will automatically lower the difficulty, potentially blocking access to all of the game’s final content. However, players can change the difficulty at any time. Overall, the game is enjoyable despite these hindrances.
Sonic Frontiers is a wonderful addition to the Sonic series. It offers exciting exploration and high-octane gameplay that will keep players engaged. While there are minor issues with collision and controls, these do not greatly impact the overall enjoyment of the game. It is a must-play for anyone interested in Sonic.
|Enjoyable open-world exploration||Repetitive gameplay loop|
|Exceptional soundtrack||Physics and control hindrances|
|Engaging, impactful combat||Lackluster secret final boss|
|Super Sonic feels Super|
|You can fish with Big the Cat|
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