In Sonic Frontiers, Sega finds the intersection of the series’ linear past and its “open zone” future, potentially for both eras of the franchise. The open Starfall Islands give you immersive explorations, while the linear Cyber stages deliver a familiar speed-based Sonic experience. While each side of the coin has flaws, Frontiers is an overall positive experience that serves as a push in the right direction for the franchise.
Running through open areas is often an enjoyable experience. Sonic maneuvers well as he runs through the lush fields, straight sands, and other biomes I’ve encountered during my past 30 hours of play. The islands offer great playing fields through which Sonic will crush, strengthen, and bounce; Tapping on a panel takes you up the rails, off the springs, and into a never-endingly satisfying detour. That satisfaction is underscored by the good feeling of linking these segments together, thanks to the tight 3D gameplay.
The most notable new ability in Sonic’s arsenal is Cyloop, a blue streak that you activate with the push of a button. Cyloop has a utility in combat – drawing a circle around an enemy that damages, stuns, or breaks armor – but its primary use is exploration; if I don’t know what to do, the answer is usually to draw a Cyloop around the object in question. You can even run in circles to spawn infinite rings, a method I often use in boss battles. Overall, I like this mechanic, but the reasons to use it in the world sometimes feel underwhelming.
On top of that, some areas of the open areas are not optimized for exploration. Obstacle courses in the world are among the heaviest offences. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve tried to go in one direction, only to hit a panel that sent me flying hundreds of feet in the opposite direction before I knew what had happened. This dilemma is further accentuated by brutal pop-ups, which mainly affect rails and background elements in open areas, making it difficult to understand the best way to navigate. towel. Other segments force you into 2D perspective and lock you into a set path until you complete the sequence or reverse out of that area. When combined with multiple dead spots and different areas that feel obscured, Sonic Frontiers’ world design falls short of the standards of modern open-world games.
While the open area design sometimes lacks coherence, the islands do a great job in removing the core game loop. Exploration rewards you with memory tokens to continue the side characters’ stories, but aside from lore drops and map revelations, scouring every nook and cranny of an island rarely yields results. results as I wanted.
When you’re not sprinting between destinations, Sonic Frontiers offers players the most comprehensive combat mechanics in the history of the series. What starts when buttoning for melee combos grows as you face new enemies who can counterattack and block your attacks. As you level up the skill tree, you’ll unlock faster-paced combos to deal devastating damage to your enemies. While the battle is pointless, I enjoy engaging enemies as they spawn, and the collectibles and skill points make the encounter worthwhile.
Perhaps the greatest reward, however, comes from defeating enemies and mini-boss defenders in the open area. These Guardians offer novel battles against a variety of monsters, offering unique encounters that require you to use different tactics to win. From creatures that lead you in a worldwide chase to a tank that forms a self-contained arena and shifts the encounter to a hell on earth experience, I’m always excited to see what the next island has to offer. What bosses?
Defeat Cyber Space Gears level Guardians, which gives you access to more traditional, linear 3D Sonic levels. These stages concentrate the action into bite-sized chunks, usually lasting less than a few minutes. Each level has four objectives that grant the Chaos Emerald Vault Key, the main collectible to progress the main story.
I enjoy playing the levels over and over to complete all of these objectives; effectively speeding up these branching stages is satisfying beyond belief. However, the S Rated timings are poorly balanced, meaning that sometimes I will hit times on my first try, while other times are impractical unless you have a perfect run. .
The culmination of each island is a massive boss battle against that region’s Titan. Each Titan battle is drastically different, but all pit you against an enemy that can’t be bigger than Super Sonic. Since Sonic’s golden form is invincible but slowly drains the ring, the battles are more clock-beating than worrying about damage. This move often leads to frustration as their attacks and purported projectile spam slow you down as you watch your round count drop. But with music that feels ripped out of the anime credits and the multi-stage battles become more climactic with each transition, the epic, climactic nature of these battles is won. me and bring back some of the most memorable moments in the game.
Combined with the sheer scale of these melodramatic boss battles, Sonic’s adventures are largely a solitary experience. For the occasional interactions with his friends and a mischievous AI character, our hero will go it alone. This, combined with the minimalist musical score, creates a contemplative tone that I quite like even though it seems counterintuitive to the series’ theme of speed.
This tone is more suitable for a sad story. The green hedgehog of the same name is still the same fun speed racer. But with a plot revolving around a mysterious species that seems to have long since struck tragedy, this story is the most mature Sonic ever in the game, and for the most part it works. The story follows some of the best character moments and contextual recalls in series history; From Sonic 3 to Sonic Forces, die-hard fans will love the references the characters make in their previous adventures. I won’t spoil the conversation, but a conversation Sonic had with a friend about personal growth was as heartfelt as the franchise has ever been.
Despite its rough surroundings, Sonic Frontiers is the best 3D Sonic game in years. This first attempt at the open-area concept is an admirable one and I can’t wait to see how Sonic Team repeats this formula in future entries, but it’s clearly not the final form. end of the formula. For now, Sonic Frontiers is a solid first foray into a brave new world for Sega’s speed mascot.