Sonic Frontiers

Sonic Frontier Review

Sonic Frontier Review

need to know

what is it? An open world action about running fast.
expect to pay $60/£50
developer sonic team
publisher Sega
Reviewed on GeForce GTX 1070, i7-7700, 16GB RAM
multiplayer game? Do not
associate Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Stunts are always cool. It’s never fun to run at 100 mph, picking up your speed before lapping gracefully around the wheel. Unfortunately, Sonic Frontiers took a while to get there.

While on a biplane adventure to investigate Starfall, Sonic and friends are accidentally sucked into cyberspace through a wormhole. While Sonic managed to escape back to the real world fast enough, Amy and Thales were not so lucky and found themselves trapped inside the hologram. Sonic must make his way across the island by unlocking portals, fighting bosses, and collecting odds and ends to restore his friends to normal. Of course, it’s not that simple, as an AI named Sage works with Eggman to stand in your way while you unravel the deeper mysteries surrounding the island.

(Image source: Sega)

The world is divided into two halves. There’s Cyberspace, which functions like classic Sonic levels, letting you progress toward a goal as quickly as possible, and Starfall Islands itself, a series of open-world spaces for you to explore. When you first escape cyberspace and enter the real world, you’re greeted with an incredibly bland continent of gray rock and flat grass. It’s really not a great start–the world feels cold and empty, but over time giant loops and bounce pads are added, turning the scenery into a theme park as you progress.

Honestly, if I hadn’t had to start from scratch for a review, I would have bounced right back and missed it. But things really start to come up around the three-hour mark, as new tracks and paths are added to the map–making the traversal even more satisfying.

Sonic himself felt slow at first. His turning circle feels large, which is a problem when there are tight corners to navigate when bouncing around platforms or finding various paths in more old-school Sonic levels. Once you start finding bell-shaped Koco creatures scattered around the world and returning them to Elder Koco in exchange for a speed boost, he does get faster. Once you reach level 7 upgrades, Sonic finally starts to feel like he should. He feels more graceful at high speeds—there’s nothing like gliding along a rail, sparks flying at your heels, before turning the other way and accelerating through a series of loops to your destination.

(Image source: Sega)


Sonic is also quite handy in battle. Simple strikes can be combined with more skills over time. A few hits are enough to take down basic enemies, but the new map is also full of Shadow of the Giants-style giants that require more thought. Some you can watch for breaks in their action gear before attacking, others, like the gigantic Asura, will require you to navigate a path through their bodies to find their vulnerable soft parts. For a game about running, fighting feels surprisingly natural here. Unfortunately, when you reach the titan fight at the end of each area, everything goes sour. While the titans look intimidating, fighting them involves a chaotic series of set-movement sequences and free-form flights to take them down. While their scale is exciting, the pacing feels alien to the rest of the game. The overhead light show will confuse you.

It’s really not a great start – the world feels cold and empty, but as time goes on, huge loops and bounce pads are added.

The cyberspace section offers a spectacle the world lacks, and it’s filled with bright colors and giant loops for Sonic to dash through. They are also punishing. The camera pans side to side frequently to change your perspective and running angle. Hitting an enemy will send you dashing toward them at breakneck speed, but once they’re cleared you’ll come to a complete stop and have to start all over again building up your speed. You’d better avoid them. However, Sonic’s new Cyloop ability is quite interesting–it lets you draw paths around objects or enemies while running to deal damage or solve puzzles.

The progress system is a bunch of currencies. To reach any titan, you first need to collect Chaos Emeralds, to collect these you need Portkeys, but to get these you need to collect Cogs to open cyberspace portals. You’ll also need a ton of other collectibles to boost your skills and progress, but with so many shimmering objects to keep track of, it’s hard to know where to focus first. It’s meant to encourage exploration, but it doesn’t work very well–instead, you feel like you’re being pulled in 10 different directions at once, because the world itself isn’t worth exploring. Walking through is more about testing your skills and pulling off rad stunts than actually looking around. That’s not necessarily a criticism—going around the Starfall Islands and riding the rails feels great—but finding bling trinkets isn’t a good incentive to do so.

(Image source: Sega)

Unfortunately, I do run into some weird bugs. When I plug the controller into my PC, the game can become cluttered, making movement impossible – which is annoying when this is definitely the type of game you want to use a controller for. The keyboard controls are fine, but less intuitive when you’re trying to pull off combos in combat. There are also plenty of pop-ups that can be a surprise when you don’t know if there’s a route ahead for you to follow until it does.

I fight Sonic Frontiers. While it feels great to bounce around a pinball machine like an arena and push up walls to reach seemingly impossible places, the world it’s set in is flat. The drama of the story is a compelling reason to keep playing, but it’s hard to recommend Frontiers considering how many ways you enjoy the sheer quality of Sonic’s campaign.

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.