Sonic Frontiers is quite an intriguing game. Leading up to its launch, it was met with a fair amount of scepticism due to the lack of gameplay being shown off. There was a demo that came out a while ago but this didn’t have any real hook to it. It seemed as if this was another Sonic game that would fall by the wayside, however, after playing the release build, I was treated to quite the opposite. It sports some pretty addictive gameplay and is fairly easy to pick up and play. While it may not resonate with all Sonic fans, the core mechanics and gameplay loop should please most of them.
Cyber Space Race
The game’s story sees the Blue Blur getting sucked into Cyber Space, but he manages to escape it somehow by speeding through a region. After making his escape, Sonic finds himself in a bizarre open world where mechanical creatures roam. During his exploration of the world, he’ll discover Monoliths that allow him access to Cyber Space levels. This is where it gets really interesting.
If you’ve ever played Sonic Colours, then these Cyber Space levels will feel somewhat familiar. They’re made up of one to two-minute-long runs through 2D and 3D regions that will see you grinding on rails, speeding and boosting along pathways, and of course, collecting rings. They’re actually quite great as each course feels pretty distinctive and offers its own challenge.
Gotta go fast
Additionally, they convey a fantastic sense of speed to the player as Sonic zooms across the levels at the kind of speed that he’s well known for. For the completionists who aim to obtain an S Rank on each of the courses, certain conditions will need to be met. Once achieved, you’ll be rewarded with additional Vault Keys, which can be used in the world outside of Cyber Space.
Unlike other games from the series, Sonic Frontiers takes place in a large open world. It’s here that Sonic will spend most of his time exploring, discovering new areas and of course, Monoliths, along the way. The world is also littered with rings, booster pads and grind rails to make the platforming feel more Sonic-esque. Not to mention that this is where the story plays out as Sonic slowly unravels the mystery of where he might be and what exactly is going on.
The narrative draws you in since it’s shrouded in mystery and should make you want to find out more about the strange world you’re in. I also genuinely liked that it references previous Sonic games and there’s the well-known cast of other Sonic franchise characters to flesh things out too.
As you explore the open world, you’ll find collectibles such as Hearts and little creatures called Kocos. The latter can be delivered to an Elder, who allows Sonic to upgrade both his ring capacity and most importantly, his speed. Upgrading these stats is incredibly important for progressing in the world. In addition to this, Sonic can also learn new skills as he defeats enemies, allowing him to expand his repertoire of combat abilities. Surprisingly, Sonic’s existing abilities have been translated rather well to the game’s open-world design.
Sonic Frontiers also features some puzzle-solving throughout, which is necessary to progress and using his skills is a lot of fun. There’s this cool skill called Cyloop that is unlocked fairly early on, which allows Sonic to trace a blue path of light wherever he goes. Using this skill to trace a circle can uncover hidden rings, unlock mechanisms or even stun enemies. It’s actually implemented quite well and is also really satisfying to use. The visuals that accompany this are great!
Pop go the textures
Speaking of visuals, Sonic Frontiers looks great some of the time and then rough at other times. The rain effects look especially lacklustre and the world just feels so empty and lifeless, which is unfortunate. That being said, the Cyber Space levels are truly fantastic and feel like some of the best levels in a Sonic game that I’ve played in a long time.
Another issue with the game’s visuals is the number of pop-in textures prevalent throughout. There are a fair amount of instances and it’s fairly disappointing when the game looks to show off high speeds. It’s especially distracting when Sonic is rushing across the world and the textures just start popping in out of thin air.
Unfortunately, the camera also tends to be a bit finicky. For the most part, it behaves, however, there are instances where it may unlock from a particular angle and prove to be quite challenging to reposition. While it isn’t always the case, it can add an unnecessary layer of challenge to a boss fight, especially with some of the larger enemies.
The voice acting is a little inconsistent, but the soundtrack is where it really shines. It complements the gameplay really well, delivering up-tempo tracks for the Cyber Space levels and some incredibly dramatic themes for the miniboss and boss fights, respectively.
Sticks the landing, mostly
Sonic Frontiers is a decent Sonic game and honestly, it proved more enjoyable than I was expecting. There’s a great blend of adventuring, puzzle-solving and combat, and the Cyber Space levels are just downright fantastic. However, not all is perfect as the game does suffer from an open world that feels lifeless, pop-in textures and some inconsistent visuals. Despite this, I feel like this is a Sonic game that would still be a treat for longtime fans because there’s a fair amount of fun to be had here. It might not exceed all of your expectations, but it might surprise you like it did me. There’s also a whole year of planned free DLC updates to come so here’s hoping all the kinks are ironed out in the near future. I definitely recommend giving Sonic Frontiers a try.
A review code for Sonic Frontiers was provided to gameblur by the publisher
Gameplay8/10 Very Good
Audio8/10 Very Good
- Fantastic sense of speed
- Cyber Space levels are amazing
- Looks great a lot of the time
- The soundtrack complements gameplay incredibly well
- Open world feels lifeless
- Texture pop-in
- Finicky camera