Sonic Frontiers Review – IS IT ACTUALLY GOOD?
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a decent 3D Sonic game. Usually, the developers get too overly concerned about writing an edgy, world-ending plot scenario, rather than focusing on what makes Sega’s mascot great—speed. Sonic Frontiers, on the other hand, has put the spotlight solely on Sonic, with not too much of the fluff that has plagued him in the past.
Blazing Blue Trails
The first praise I must give—considering this is a Sonic game—is that there’s no character-swapping or gimmicky werewolf nonsense. Just tonnes of grind-rails, loop-de-loops and wall-running sections which emanate that timeless adrenaline rush fans have been craving. While the typical Sonic herky-jerk still lingers on, especially in the light dash ability and boost trigger, it altogether flows particularly well. Jumping and sprinting from one set piece to the next is a joy to behold, and I couldn’t wipe the cheesiest of grins off of my face as I was doing so.
The open-world influence from Breath of the Wild is undeniable, but it somehow effortlessly fits into the Sonic gameplay formula. Essentially, the five main islands feature a plethora of activities and classic Sonic stages to complete, which then unlock the following set of areas and challenges to discover. The gameplay has some decent variety on offer too. One moment Sonic will begin racing to reach a timed switch, the next he’ll be solving block and statue puzzles, or herding little critters back to their flock. While that last entry may sound boring on paper, Sonic’s speed automatically makes these relatively tedious tasks much more enjoyable. Plus, the fact that you can manually adjust how Sonic moves and reacts to the control stick’s input is a big win, in my opinion.
But it’s not a true open-world game without a skill tree, right? Throughout the game, Sonic can pull off and unlock an assortment of attacks and maneuvers which make the exploration and combat heaps more in-depth. These encounters try to keep speed at the forefront and actually require more than a simple jump on the noggin to win, with each mechanised monstrosity having their own attack patterns and distinct ways of being taken down. Especially the Super Sonic giant battles which are ultra hype. They transfer over Sonic’s skill moves and make them ten times more epic. Like the Cyloop, where he has to encircle an enemy for a big slash across the screen, or how Sonic can parry enemy attacks for a ‘Flurry Rush’ limit break opportunity. It all makes for a grand spectacle that fans of the series will no doubt appreciate.
Running Up Those Green Hills
That being said, if these bosses aren’t defeated before Sonic’s ring count drops to zero, it’s game over. And unfortunately, said bosses barely give players any time to actually experiment with Sonic’s toolkit and revel in these glorious moments. I was compelled to cheese these bosses by either spamming one specific skill or keep baiting one particular attack that was easy enough to parry. Bit of a missed opportunity there. At the same time, it’s kind of amazing how the Nintendo Switch is able to keep up. It genuinely stays at around 30FPS with few noticeable frame drops while flying through the bosses and open-world areas of Sonic Frontiers. Considering how fast Sonic can move, particularly when he’s boosting through the land at break-neck speed, it hardly ever lets up. However, the amount of pop-in this results in is pretty atrocious, I must admit.
Thankfully, the story doesn’t fall back on the teenage angst and world-ending ridiculousness that the 3D Sonic games have become infamous for. Sonic’s voice does sound a little too deep, which was a little jarring at first, but it’s ultimately a pretty decent narrative for a Sonic title. Focusing on the mysteries of why Sega’s mascot and friends have found themselves trapped on an island full of theme park attractions. No, literally. That’s one of the main plot points. But seriously, it’d be an injustice not to mention the game’s ‘tight’ soundtrack (as Sonic would say). Varying from drum ‘n’ bass to ambient and hard rock for the big-time bosses, Sonic Frontiers delivers another banger of an OST that our earholes can enjoy.
Believe it or not, Sonic Frontiers is far from a trainwreck. Putting the blue blur into an open-world, Breath of the Wild style playground was a risky gamble, but it’s paid off quite well here. Each area is covered with fast-paced set pieces, puzzles, enemies and minigames that open up those traditional Sonic stages to keep things fresh. While the game is undeniably tonnes of fun, the usual Sonic jank is still present, and the pop-in is next-level on the Switch. But still, it’s great how you can customise how Sonic moves, and the fact that Nintendo’s console can run this game at all around 30FPS is a feat in and out of itself.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
It’s been 5 years since the last mainline 3D Sonic game, and the wait has definitely been worth it. The open-world structure really plays into Sonic’s strengths and it only contains a couple of gameplay issues that have plagued the series’ past. It’s just so satisfying to jump and run around these massive playgrounds while not having to worry about suddenly switching gameplay styles (like in the Sonic Adventure series) or turning into a godforsaken werewolf. The story isn’t too big for its own boots either and the soundtrack will keep the adrenaline rush going well into the game’s 15-30 hour run-time.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by SEGA. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.
One thought on “Sonic Frontiers Review – IS IT ACTUALLY GOOD?”
Pingback: Pentiment Review - SHOULD YOU AVOID THIS TEDIOUS ADVENTURE? | The Beta Network