Sonic Frontiers reviewed by Travis Northup on PlayStation 5, also available on Xbox Series X|S and PC.
Sonic Frontiers is a delightfully weird and experimental evolution of the Sonic games so many of us grew up with. Its expansive islands are filled with so much variety and pieces of Sonic history, from classic platforming stages to silly minigames, that they’re enjoyable to explore even when awful graphical pop-in is a constant hedgehog spine in your side. Some of the new stuff Frontiers tries out, like the self-contained Cyber Space levels within its open worlds, are fantastic ways to pack as much Sonic goodness as possible into one package, while others – especially combat – are uninteresting experiments gone wrong.
[Music] Sonic Frontiers doesn't limit you to a Small carefully curated menu of things To try instead it takes the All-you-can-eat buffet approach throwing New ideas at you from start to finish Without Really seeming to care if They're fresh and appetizing or looking Wilted and Limp under the heat lamp when I jumped off the starting line of the Sprint across Sonic's first open world Game I certainly didn't expect to play Jump rope duke it out with a giant robot Watch a dramatic origin story for an Extinct race of beings or do you know How to fish I'll teach you if you would but Frontiers kept me guessing even late Into the campaign with what it would try Next even when some of those ideas Didn't work I was almost always glad That Sega gave it the old College try And as a result I rarely found myself Bored I did find myself feeling blue Because of the absurd amount of pop-in That happens every time this famously Fast character does his thing but Sonic Frontiers is for the most part a Promising first attempt at blazing a new Trail for the series [Music] While you're working your way through Frontiers's chain of five Starfall Islands during its roughly 20-hour
Campaign you'll uncover the dark and Extremely predictable backstory of a Long extinct race while hanging out with Sonic family favorites like Amy and Knuckles you'll also meet this strange New enemy named Sage and learn what her Deal is in the most agonizingly slow way Possible you leave immediately since her Main Hobbies appear to be dodging Pointed questions and speaking Exclusively in vagaries if we are Fortunate it will destroy you with all Of the different plot threads Frontiers Juggles they do end up feeling oddly Disconnected from each other and none of Them offer a ton of surprises between Their ungodly number of cliches Concerning the power of friendship and Ancient civilizations wielding advanced Technology Sense of Completion comfort Weird but they do leave room for some Really good moments between the furry Cast of characters never a dull moment With you in fact Frontiers produces some Of the most in-depth characterizations Of the Sonic cast we've ever seen in a Game one part of the campaign hones in On the brotherly rivalry between Sonic And Knuckles while another does a great Job at building tails up as more than Just Sonic's sidekick all of that more Than stated my ravenous appetite for
Sonic's usual anime style nonsense Strange but feels natural in between all Of the fancy robot kicking and rolling Around at the speed of sound Sprinting through the sprawling open World areas is as you'd hope one of the Best parts of this Odyssey the islands You dash about on are suitably large Playgrounds for you to test the limits Of your road running so long as you Don't fall into water or lava that Immediately kills you My personal favorite new trick though is The side Loop it lets you draw a circle While blazing a trail to create a Tornado of death that impacts everything Caught within it this ability can be Used and abused to do damage in combat Solve puzzles and even Farm Rings since It generates a few every time [Music] Plus literally running in circles around Your enemies is just an incredibly Sonic Thing to do which is why I practically Never stop doing it throughout my Playthrough What becomes clear after a few laps Around the first island is that Sonic Frontiers is an action-adventure game That joins a growing pack of old school Series looking to reimagine themselves As open world sandboxes and in this Particular case it mostly works out Just like Pokemon Legends Arceus and
Metal Gear Solid 5 the phantom pain Before it Frontiers keeps a lot of what Makes the Sonic series beloved and Unique including some fun homages but Also throws in big areas to explore and Fills them with a wild assortment of Side distractions and mostly interesting New ideas not all of those activities Are created equal but it works overall Just because of the sheer variety one Moment you're juggling robots like You're playing baby's first Devil May Cry the next you're trying to beat a Time trial in a 2d platforming stage And a minute after that you're playing a Game of pinball inside of an active Volcano You'll grind truly epic rails solve Extremely simple puzzles do some puzzle Platforming and of course catch fish Because if you can't fish does it even Count as an open world game [Applause] [Music] There were moments where I saw glimpses Of Genius in this bizarre hodgepodge of Activities sections called cyberspace Levels smartly break up the open World By teleporting you into bite-sized Traditionally linear Sonic levels where You're racing the clock and collecting Rings as you mad dash for the goal line On the other hand one of the big things Frontiers tries that doesn't work well
Is combat you're just mashing buttons to Pull off simple Combos and knock the Snot out of faceless robotic enemies I appreciated the occasional break from Platforming but since it never proves to Be a challenge and throws you into Almost identical fights again and again I soon came to resent being yanked out Of my lightning speed racing just to Smack down another bunch of dumb toaster Looking fools Boying when it comes to the mini bosses Roaming the open world who often dragged Me into unskippable fight sequences that Weren't particularly challenging or Interesting though the giant bosses that Cap off each island which I will not Spoil here are far more exciting Foreign Frontiers has you do like solving very Easy puzzles that range from mildly Amusing minigames to completely brain Dead chores or dipping your toes into RPG mechanics by gathering Collectibles To raise your stats these aren't Terrible additions but they also don't Feel like they're entirely fleshed out The upgrades in particular are a bit odd Since they do things like let you carry More Rings or increase your attack and Defense stats by such minor amounts that They barely have an impact on gameplay It's almost like the developer Shrugged And said sure why not and through every
Idea they could come up with into the Mix just for the heck of it The biggest shortcoming with this new Open world design though has nothing to Do with the buffet of mostly amusing Activities it's simply that Frontiers is Not at all able to keep up with Sonic's God-like speed on a technical level my Immersion was broken about every five Seconds when large objects popped into View right in front of me granted that's Sometimes hilarious but it's always Jarring and just plain ugly most of the Time it's a railing or platform that Blips into existence a couple feet away From you but sometimes its entire areas Of the world for all of its amazing Quick loading capabilities the PS5 just Couldn't seem to handle how hilariously Fast Frontiers let me go whether I was Playing in the 4K resolution mode at 30 FPS or the much more desirable 60fps Mode seriously what are we even doing Here playing a game this fast at any Less the pop-in was always a common Issue help me find the Chaos Emerald so I can beat up some big robots you'll be Free and back to guarding the Master Emerald in no time Sounds like a plan Sonic Frontiers is a Delightfully weird and experimental Evolution of the Sonic game so many of Us grew up with its expansive islands Are filled with so much variety and
Pieces of Sonic history from classic Platforming stages to silly mini-games That they're enjoyable to explore even When awful graphical pop-in is a Constant Hedgehog spine in your side Some of the new stuff Frontiers tries Out like the self-contained cyberspace Levels within its open worlds are Fantastic ways to pack as much Sonic Goodness as possible into one package While others especially combat are Uninteresting experiments gone wrong Still I largely enjoyed my time running Around in Frontiers making it feel like A promising first attempt at what could Be a bright New Era for Sonic and Friends for more check out our reviews Of God of War Ragnarok or Bayonetta 3 And for everything else stick with IGM [Music] Foreign