When we think of Sonic, the first thing that fans think of is: speed, obstacle-filled stages that go from points A to B, rings, Chaos Emeralds, etc. But what if it was all set in a mysterious open world? With this proposal, Sonic Frontiers, a new game in the saga, is born.
The game combines the classic elements of the saga and tries to innovate by bringing the hedgehog into an “open area” (as defined by the creators of Sonic Team), where there are puzzles to solve, items to collect and characters to interact with. It’s quite fun, even the title manages to grab the player’s attention but fails in certain aspects like boss fights and technical issues.
Adventure in Starfall Islands
The narrative of Sonic Frontiers begins with Sonic, Amy, and Tails traveling on a plane in search of the powerful Chaos Emerald. However, without much explanation, the three friends end up in a portal and end up in “cyberspace,” a digital dimension so to speak. Fortunately for them, however, the blue hedgehog escapes this parallel world and wakes up on the Star Islands, a place of adventure.
From there, it’s up to him to discover Amy and Tails’ whereabouts as he wanders the islands’ “open space.” Nothing is explained at first: the player must follow the answers themselves, a feature that is a bit reminiscent of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – although SEGA swears that the two games are not the same.
The story is one of the game’s strengths, largely because of the mystery that surrounds it. Not only Amy and Tails, but other classic characters like Dr. Eggman and Knuckles also find themselves involved in cyberspace – and it’s your job to understand their role on the islands. Finally, there’s Sage, a girl who tries to avoid saving Sonic’s friends for reasons unknown.
Sonic Frontiers bets on a more mature narrative, although it tries to combine it with features already seen in other games in the series, such as friendship bonds, jokes and rivalries – these are, so to speak, more “childish” qualities. Despite this, some events are even surprising and leave the player wanting to play more to try to understand what is going on.
Explore, collect items, defeat enemies and progress
The combat is easy to master, but the boss fights are confusing
Sonic Frontiers combines the classic game and places it in an open world in which the blue hedgehog can encounter a wide variety of enemies (small, medium and large). In fact, one of the highlights of the game is the combat system: SEGA seems to have wanted to reduce the speed at which opponents are defeated, to give a new blow to the hero.
The title has a skill tree: in it, the player spends points (earned by defeating cars or performing stunts in the air) to acquire new skills. The main one is the Cyberloop, which is guaranteed at the beginning of the adventure. With this, Sonic leaves a glowing trail on the ground, and once the circle is complete, it deals damage (or at least solves puzzles and reveals hidden items while exploring).
As more skills are acquired, Sonic’s arsenal becomes more complete. And best of all, combos are easy to perform, with uncomplicated button combinations (L1/R1 + Square, R2 + Square/Circle/Triangle/X, etc.).
However, not everything is rosy in the battle system. The battles against the main bosses leave a lot to be desired due to the simplicity and confusion in understanding what is going on. For example, in one of the boss fights, there were so many elements on the screen that it was hard to tell them apart. However, once the player overcomes this obstacle, defeating the giant machine is as easy as eating a child’s candy.
The open world of Sonic Frontiers
In Sonic Frontiers, the player will traverse five different islands, all full of enemies, items, puzzles, portals and characters. Exploration is essential in the game, as it will not only tell you the story, but also reveal the map and progress.
Starfall Islands has a lot of “challenges” to complete – from getting from point A to point B to a sort of hamster exercise wheel (the variety of these tests is quite large). When you complete them, a part of the map is revealed showing the items hidden in that area (trust me, you’ll be wondering what’s in there).
The main discovery of these “challenges” is the presence of portals. Upon entering them, Sonic is transported to a classic style (the design varies from 2D to 3D) where he must complete four objectives: finish it, get an “S” rank time, get all the hidden red star rings, and collect “X” number of rings.
Completing at least one of these objectives gives you a key – completing all of them gives you four of them, plus an extra key. These objects are used to open chests that contain Chaos Emeralds, which are essential for defeating bosses.
The open world of Sonic Frontiers also has so-called “Mnemonic Items” that must be collected to advance the story. In each map, Sonic will find these different things that indicate the personalities of the characters there – he collects hearts for Amy, medals for Knuckles, or wrenches for Tails.
Often, “mnemonic items” are found in 2D/3D platforming sessions scattered across the map. The blue hedgehog simply climbs or jumps over the fence a Jumper To start a “mini-phase” of sorts. At the end he will receive the given prize.
While Sonic Frontiers’ maps facilitate exploration, grinding To get the necessary “X” number of “mnemonic items” and therefore the progress of the story can irritate the most impatient. Regardless, the experience is pretty fun, especially if you’re a fan of the saga.
Also, the cutscenes cause some confusion as their design doesn’t take you where you hope. An example of this factor is the third map, Archipelago: going from island A to island B, there are no clues or instructions on how to cross them. The player spends a few minutes running around and exploring the area until they finally find where to go. This is related to a very annoying graphics problem, which we will talk about later.
Sonic Frontiers is experiencing technical issues
As mentioned earlier, SEGA built Starfall Islands by placing classic elements in an “open area”. This means that the player will find the aforementioned “mini-phases” all over the map, these platforming sessions (in 2D or 3D) that serve to obtain items, reach higher places or traverse islands.
When Sonic runs across the stage, it’s not uncommon”pop-in“, an error in which a previously non-existent object simply appears. Remember when we mentioned the problem of crossing the archipelago from the third map? Many times, the player will not be able to remotely observe the sessions of this platform. He wants to move, get closer, and “Charam!”: a railing appears in front of him.
The graphical flaws don’t end there. During cutscenes and gameplay, it is possible to see small black dots in the scenery at certain times – taking away from the beauty of the scenery. The positive side is the art style adopted for the game, emphasizing the architecture of the old buildings.
Another issue that should annoy those playing on the PlayStation 5 is the title’s large number of load screens – although they are fast. On the other hand, while the game is loading, the player can train Sonic’s skills in small tutorials.
Sonic Frontiers: Worth it?
Sonic Frontiers is certainly a very different proposition compared to the full saga. While it combines many classic elements – 2D and 3D platform levels, ring collecting and speed – it also brings a new combat system and a more mature story. It’s impossible to say that SEGA didn’t try to reinvent the franchise with this product.
Admittedly, it still lacked the added flair of important elements of the title. The boss fights are boring and the polish is overwhelming. On the other hand, the experience is fun and, for the first time in historySubtitled in PT-BR.
Fully single-player, Sonic Frontiers has a campaign that lasts around 15 hours and takes up only 23 GB of SSD space. If you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth it. If it doesn’t, it’s best to wait for the promotion (and fixes).