Sonic The Hedgehog is back in a brand-new open world game. This marks another iconic video game character receiving the open world treatment before it was Nintendo‘s Link with Breath of the Wild and Mario, with Mario Odyssey and now it appears that Sonic The Hedgehog is getting the very same treatment in his new game Sonic Frontiers, but does it stand up to all of the other open world titles in recent years? Let’s find out together.
The story of the game is that Sonic and his friends are sucked into a digital world, once sucked in Sonic is trapped in a digital version of Greenhill Valley but he is able to escape. Once he escapes, it is discovered that he is actually on a digital island filled with mechanical robots, and many challenges for him to complete. Once he lands on the island a mysterious voice gives him three tasks: find the chaos emeralds, destroy the titans, and tear down the walls between dimensions. On top of completing these tasks Sonic also has to find and restore his friends who have been digitized on the island and have had the pieces that could restore them scattered across the island. On top of that Dr. Eggman was also sucked into the digital world and is planning to harness its power for nefarious reasons while also simultaneously escaping his digital prison so it is up to Sonic to not only discover the secrets of the island and save his friends, but also stop, Dr. Eggman and his A.I Sage the entity who is controlling the titans.
The gameplay for Sonic Frontiers is easy to understand for both veteran players of the Sonic franchise and players who have never played a Sonic game before especially if they’re familiar with open world games. The player takes control of Sonic, the fastest hedgehog alive, as they run, spin, and jump across a region of five different islands known as the Starfall Islands. The players will combat a large variety of different robotic enemies from enemies that fly to enemies that stab to enemies that are the size of buildings and those large enemies aren’t even including the Titans themselves who act as the final bosses of each island. Sonic has advantages with both his speed and his agility which can help him run across the map with a speed that can be upgraded. There are many ways to traverse the islands from running along the plains to grinding the rails that will get the player from one place to another in a matter of seconds. There is no limit to the ways that people can traverse the islands. The basic gameplay is simple. 1) There is the Y button, which is the attack button, 2) the L and R buttons are the dodge buttons as well as the Perry buttons if you hold them down at the same time, 3) and the ZR button is the boost button, which will help sonic get around a lot quicker. These are the basic moves for the game on the Nintendo switch, but there are abilities that are unlockable via the skill tree that give the player a whole plethora of powerful abilities, and combos, that can be executed during combat.
The open world of Sonic Frontiers is a series of islands, known as the Starfall islands. Each island has a different biome so one could be an island entirely themed around the forest while another could be themed around the desert. Each island has their own sets of challenges that help the player to navigate the world, as well as offer different ways of traversal, such as grind rails, bounce platforms, large towers that could be explored, walls that could be run up, and even trials that will test both veteran sonic players, and new sonic players. Each island culminates in a giant Boss fight with the titan that resides on each island.
The collectibles of Sonic Frontiers also vary from items that can make Sonic more powerful and faster to items that can be used for the fishing system which also has its own benefits for the player. The RPG mechanics essentially requires the player to collect specific items that can be used to upgrade, Sonic’s speed, health, defense, power, and ring capacity. The way that sonic increases his speed and ring capacity is by finding these little creatures known as Kuco’s and returning them to their elder who will only give Sonic the upgrades if he returns a certain amount of them. The way that sonic increases his health and defense is by completing challenges around the map. On top of dropping materials completing them will also reveal small sections of the map. Defeated enemies will drop shards which add up to skill points that can be used to unlock powerful new abilities. There are finally purple tokens that can be used for fishing with Bigcat and if the player decides to fish he will reward Sonic with a small to high amount of fishing tokens that can be used to purchase a large amount of seeds, Kucos, shards, and many others. Some examples of the rewards Bigcat will exchange for tokens are 20 Kucos, and even 100 skill points for each exchange. On top of collecting materials for upgrade Sonic also has to collect the chaos emeralds, which are locked away in vaults that need to be unlocked with a certain number of vault keys. The way Sonic gets these keys is through these digital trials, which drop the player into many different sonic 2D/3-D levels. Each trial has their own sets of requirements that all reward bowl keys upon completion. These trials will be very familiar to veteran sonic players, while also introducing newer players to what it’s like to play a Sonic game.
Overall, I had a good time playing this game. I enjoyed my time with this game despite the large amounts of pop in’s that happen due to how fast Sonic is. However regardless of the few bugs that I have encountered I did enjoy my time playing Sonic Frontiers
Overall Grade: 8 out of 10
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch