The iconic Sonic franchise keeps proving that it's here to stay. Although the gaming company has faced much criticism with games such as Sonic Lost World, Sonic Boom, and Sonic Forces not hitting the mark, Sonic Frontiers is seemingly doing it right. I must admit, I was skeptical about the release of another 3D platformer from the IP, but I guess the Sonic Team has been listening to fans' woes and launched a modern and genuinely mesmerizing 3D platformer you will relish.
Pumped with an adrenaline rush, ambition, and excellent platforming, Sonic Frontiers goes down in history as one of the most enthralling games in the franchise. After the release of Sonic Forces in 2017, the IP immediately started curating a new adventure for the hedgehog. True to their word, the speedster is back on the tracks half a decade later. So is this a game worth playing or a substantial flop like its predecessors? Well, there's only one way to find out—join me in this Sonic Frontiers review.
If you've played any Sonic game, you know to expect nothing else but Sonic to take the spotlight. Although, unlike other titles, the Sonic Frontiers plot is less grandiose and a bit toned down. The story starts with Sonic and his pals, Tails and Amy, with Knuckles showing up a bit later. You'll also cross paths with a new villain named Sage.
The trio set off to investigate a mysterious event that has lured the Chaos Emeralds to the Starfall Islands. Sonic and his team are pulled into a digital dimension known as “Cyber Space” as they are about to jet in. The wormhole is a consequence of Dr. Eggman's actions; he's determined to extract knowledge from the “Spirits of the Ancients.”
With the antagonists and protagonists trapped in the digital space, Dr. Eggman creates a robot, Sage, to help him hunt down Sonic while he searches for the Chaos Emeralds. Simultaneously, Sonic must escape the digital realm to rescue his friends in the Starfall Islands.
Armed with super-sonic speed and quite a determination, Sonic embarks on his quest to save his friends and, of course, heroically stop Dr. Eggman and his troupe of robots. Moreover, you'll also discover the enchanting story behind the “Ancients of the Spirits” and the Titans, who are protectors of the gems.
After accessing the final Chaos Emerald, Sonic will face the final boss, Dr. Eggman, in Titan Form. After a successful takeover, Sonic teams up with Sage to defeat the evil element with guidance from the Spirits of the Ancients. Team Sonic adds emotional depth to the story by having Sage sacrifice herself to save Sonic's team and her creator.
Sonic Frontiers retains much of its predecessors' gameplay, but with a few upgrades. An impressive feature is that Sonic's quills are now visible; however, he is the only playable character, which is such a bane.
Aside from Sonic's revamped and impressive look, the franchise retains the traditional 3D and 2D levels. As usual, you take control of Sonic and scale the open zone while completing a series of quests. Sonic has new abilities, which include running across walls, exploiting the Cyloop, and combat attacks.
Moreover, Sonic retains his abilities of super-fast speed, grinding on rails, and collecting rings. My favorite trick is using the Cyloop to create a circle of light around your enemies. Anything you catch inside the sphere is ultimately destroyed. Also, you can use this technique to gather rings in one spin.
What's more, the game allows you to customize Sonic's maneuvers. You can upgrade or adjust his speed, acceleration, resistance, and turning from the menu. Many of the upgrades become accessible as you progress in the game.
The most significant downside comes when you run out of rings and can't speed up as much as you want to. However, you can remedy this by upgrading your speed stat as you progress in the game.
The linear levels are also enthralling to explore. Get lost in the vast open zones of the various islands. Although it can get quite frustrating to scale the platformer only to reach the Chaos Emeralds and realize you can't access them. To prevent this, it is best to first locate the vault keys by completing the side quests.
As you work your way to find the Chaos Emeralds and your friends, you'll uncover a series of mini-bosses to take down. It is a deserving break from platforming. However, some of these boss fights may feel repetitive. Although I have a personal favorite, Wyvern is the second boss you'll encounter. Using a parrying attack, you can grab the cyborg's tail and fling it from a promontory point. How exciting!
Moreover, there are various moves and combo attacks to use, but over time, you'll find yourself less motivated to engage in the brawls since they seem routine. Also, the fights are unskippable and can be pretty humdrum.
The most exciting part of the brawl is the Cyloop, which lets you create a circle of light and entrap your enemies for a massive death typhoon. Moreover, the ravaging metal soundtrack and orchestral music bring the action to life. I must admit the Cyloop is an intriguing way of using Sonic's speed to knock the snot out of the faceless robots.
Undeniably, the quality of materials in the game's environment is top-tier. Everything appears to be unbelievably realistic, from stone to rocks and metal. The impeccable lighting brings all these elements to life for a vast, surreal environment. Sonic Team uses distant shadowing, which lets the details in the islands retain their depth even as you move further away. We can't deny that the impressive environment is attributable to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
What's more, your surroundings are quite responsive. You'll notice footprints as you scale sandy areas and a ripple effect when dashing through water bodies. And lest I forget the visually appealing Cyberspace dimension.
Elements in the world are retained from the Sonic Generations. However, the layouts are different, featuring new designs and stages. However, Sonic Frontiers is available across various platforms (PlayStation 4, 5, every Xbox since Xbox One, PC, and the Nintendo Switch). I recommend using Xbox or PlayStation 5 consoles for a virtually immersive experience.
Sonic Team also does a tremendous job of balancing exploration with platforming. Meaning you can either engage in combat or platform. Outside of battle, you can solve puzzles in the open zone.
Also, Sonic Team went above and beyond to craft an emotional storyline for every character, which adds life to the game. In between quests, you'll get to test friendships. For example, in one instance, the rivalry between Knuckles and Sonic is reignited. In another, you'll experience Tails as more than Sonic's ally.
Sonic Frontiers is a captivating and thrilling exploration of another of Sonic's adventures. However, unlike its predecessors, this 3D platformer has improved game mechanics and an enthralling story about friendship. Moreover, the bosses at each level do put up quite the fight, giving you a satisfying sensation after a defeat.
Also, the flat-voice acting in the game does not match up to the franchise's movies. In its latest motion picture, the voicing of the animation characters featured a solid yet fun playthrough. Only Tails delivers the same level of acting in Frontiers as her role in movies.
With combat attacks added to the list of upgrades, Sonic Team has outdone itself by giving fans a game to relish. The game uses an all-you-can-devour buffet approach, giving you a set of new things to try out. From the Cyloop to parrying attacks and a dramatic origin story, Sonic Frontiers is the Sonic game fans have been eagerly waiting for. The smart switch between 2D and 3D environments in the open world or digital realm adds to the experimental evolution of the Sonic franchise.
Sadly, the game's repetitive combat with mini-bosses is dull, owing to its repetitive nature. Thanks to its linear gameplay, you have no option but to battle it out with the Titans, and after repetitive episodes, it lacks the triumphant element after a successful fight. Moreover, the weird camera angles during combat make launching attacks against Titans frustrating. Although the game's conclusion does not hint at another title, it is on the right path. We only hope that other games to come will be a significant upgrade.
You can pick up Sonic Frontiers today on steam. For more updates on the game, be sure to follow the official social handle here.
Sonic Frontiers Review (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5, Switch & PC)
A Lacklustre Yet Iconic Remaster, for the Road Runner
Sonic Frontiers is an action-adventure platformer that uses 2D and 3D gameplay. The game brings back the legendary speed-pumped hedgehog in another exciting adventure with his friends. It is one of the titles in the franchise that stands out for its plot and immersive open-world environment, which developer Takashi Iizuka prefers to call an “open zone.”
Immerse yourself in the intricate depths and visually appealing environment, and have another go at being the hero in Sonic Frontiers. The game is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.