Sonic Frontiers was released in 2022 as the latest installment in a 30 year franchise.
Sonic the Hedgehog raced into people’s hearts with his first game on the Sega Genesis. Since 1991, Sonic has starred in many cartoon shows, video games, and comic books. He even recently got his own live-action movie series.
When Sega decided to transition into 3D gaming, they made multiple games with mixed results. Games like Sonic Adventures 1 and 2 really made an impact. However, Sonic 2006 was criticized as the biggest failure in the franchise.
Sonic Frontiers is not only the best game in the series, but was even a contender for Game of the Year. Even though it lost it to Genshin Impact, Sonic Frontiers marks a return to form and hits the pinnacles of what Sonic can be.
Sonic Frontier’s New Adventure
Dr. Eggman is once again up to no good. In Sonic Frontiers, he discovers an obelisk that somehow awakens a dormant and evil power. However, the evil remains trapped in a sort of simulation world.
Never fear. Sonic, Tails, and Amy follow the source of this energy. Of course, they all get split up and are stranded on an island that contains a village inhabited by evil robots.
While Sonic is stranded, he discovers that all of his friends are somehow imprisoned and turned into holograms. Making Sonic’s mission even more complicated, a little AI girl named Sage keeps trying to get Sonic to leave by any means necessary… and Sage seems to be controlling the robots. In order to stop Sage and save his friends, Sonic must explore the island to find the Chaos Emeralds and destroy several guardians.
Yes, the plot is rather formulaic and fits how Sonic stories tend to go. However, rather than be repetitive, the story is engaging enough so that it feels less formulaic and more a classic that never goes out of style.
Sonic Frontiers: A Whole Open World Game
What makes Sonic Frontiers different from all other Sonic games is that it is a fully open-world game. Clearly, Sega paid attention to games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Genshin Impact. Not only can players run fast through Sonic Frontiers‘ vast world, but they can also jump, climb, glide, and collect items.
Just like every other Sonic game, players go through various stages to race against the clock and get the best time. These stages also have their own collectibles and challenges to go through. For a speedrunner or speed freak, this will keep you nailing those S ranks.
To break up any monotony of the usual jump and slams, Sega also added melee combat. Plus, light RPG mechanics give Sonic new moves and abilities as players progress through the maps. Players can even fish with Big the Cat! Just be careful with the water, though, because Sonic is still not a good swimmer.
Gotta Go Fast in Sonic Frontiers
Every Sonic game has to nail the speed that the Blue Blur can reach. Sonic Frontiers is no different. With the open world maps, the speed players can reacher is ridiculous in the best possible way. Sega didn’t hold back. The maps in the cyber world maps require split-second reactions in order to perfectly complete the maps at the best time.
Needless to say, anyone who wants to go fast will get their kicks. Pun intended.
In addition, players can upgrade Sonic’s speed, health, and limits on rings he can collect. A number of grinds, boosts, loops, jump pads, and grappling hooks present ways for Sonic to hold on.
There are, however, times when players should slow down. The open-world maps have a lot to explore. Plus, there are minigames and cool tricks players won’t want to miss. There’s even a boots bar that players can use to give themselves a little extra speed to beat the clock.
Why So Serious?
Sonic games have always been known for their blend of humor, zany moments, and some serious themes. Sonic Frontiers really emphasizes that more emotional content. It doesn’t quite reach the same edginess as Shadow the Hedgehog, but it comes pretty close!
The small stone creatures called Kocos are scattered all over the island. Kocos seems cute on the surface. However, during a mission to help Amy help a couple of Kocos, Sonic and Amy both end up leaving their bodies and going to heaven. Yeah. This of plot twist is not what you would expect in a game targeted at kids!
Plus, Sage is clearly trying to protect Eggman. That said, Sage is also in denial about her feelings. This more mature, complex relationship really drives home Sonic Frontiers‘ bit of a serious turn with its tone. To be fair, Sonic was somewhat edgy in the 90s, and Sonic Frontiers seems to be trying to return to that tone.
Sonic Frontiers: Second Place
It’s clear that Sonic Frontiers is the best game of the Sonic franchise so far. Thus, the question is: why didn’t it win Game of the Year?
Frankly, the main reason is that it couldn’t compete with Genshin Impact. While the two games are similar, Sonic is all about speed while Genshin is all about lore.
There is a story in Sonic Frontiers, and it’s well-written. Yet there isn’t much that’s particularly innovative for the gaming industry as a whole.
Despite the melee combat being pretty easy to get into, there’s hardly any enemy variety unless players venture into other maps. There’s also a lot more effort put into boss fights rather than fighting large groups.
Also, while the controls are made well, there are still a number of times when it feels like players have lost control. One minute you’ll be trying to do a jump while dashing through the field and all of a sudden, you end up falling off the cliff. Oops. This isn’t game-breaking, but it can be a little dizzying.
Still Adding More
Sega plans to update Sonic Frontiers later in 2023 to add more game modes to Frontiers. Sega even mentioned potentially allowing players to play as other characters like Tails, Amy, and Knuckles.
The current build doesn’t have a “new game plus” mode, but there is an arcade mode that gives added fun for those who want more. Still, they have added some extra items to help out the player, even doing a crossover with Monster Hunter to give Sonic a new look.
Even without any DLC mentioned, the modding community has already added a ton of ways to make Sonic Frontiers fun. There’s even a mod that lets you play as Shadow the Hedgehog, if you really want edginess!