Sonic Frontiers Review (PS5): Is it worth playing?

Sonic Frontiers Review (PS5): Is it worth playing?

Sonic the Hedgehog is an older game series than many people who might be reading this. While blue blur dominated the gaming landscape in the 90s, the transition to 3D wasn’t so kind to it, as evidenced by previous Sonic games that strayed from the original formula. Still, Sonic Team perseveres, and here we have the release of sound borders. Can Sonic and company really succeed in an open-world setup, or is this a franchise that should stay true to its roots?

A strange story

Sonic Frontiers has a semi-serious story going on here, in which Dr. Robotnik (or “Eggman” as Sonic and his team call him) attaches his latest invention to an ancient portal, waking up some robots while accidentally getting sucked into him. -even and others. Cyber ​​Space. It’s up to Sonic to free his friends, who are trapped in some sort of hovering containment device. Ideally, he’s teleported to a world that has springs to jump on, rails to crush, balloons to pop, and other objects he can jump on quickly.

While exploring the world, keys can be found, as well as memory tokens for the friend he is trying to free from the Cyber ​​World. Meanwhile, each world is inhabited by these creatures called Koco, which are these little stone statues that come to life. Although they look like babies, it is revealed that they are inhabited by the spirits of ancient people who roamed these lands, and their stories take many dark turns as Sonic and his friends try to help these creatures.

Sonic was never really an RPG series, and yet Sonic Frontiers has such mechanics in spades. The aforementioned Koco can be collected simply by getting close enough to them and then handed over to an older Koco, which is much larger than those collected Koco. Returning enough allows Sonic to choose to upgrade his speed level or his ring-carrying ability.

Certain Special Seeds can also be found and collected, and given to another Elder Koco, who will automatically boost Sonic’s attack and defense stats. Each of these four base stats can be upgraded to level 99, and they actually affect how quickly Sonic can dispatch most enemies, or how many rings he will drop each time he is hit – for all but the toughest enemies, this is more the case where one hit causes you to lose all your rings.

The RPG elements are complemented by an unlockable skill tree that grants Sonic additional abilities. Beyond the tutorial, players can spend as much or as little of their levels on these skills. This includes abilities like Cyloop, where the player holds Triangle to run and leave a trail of energy behind them. If they complete a circle with this track and release the button, various effects may occur depending on the context – shielded enemies will lose protection, others will be stunned. It can also be used on the environment in certain obvious places to dig up hidden Memory Tokens, Seeds, or just a collection of Rings.

If Sonic ever has as many rings as he can currently hold, which starts at 400, then a brief cutscene plays where a blue lightning bolt fills the background and Sonic’s eyes glow blue. Now his boost speed is slightly increased, with a bit of crackling electricity in his wake. It seems odd that Sonic is some sort of action-RPG set in these areas of the overworld, but it’s also oddly rewarding to figure out all of these disjointed options and combine various strategies to take on some of the game’s most formidable adversaries.

Meet the titans

At key points in the story, Sonic battles the Titans, those hulking creatures brought to life by a mysterious figure apparently created by Dr. Robotnik. He usually fights them as Super Sonic, once he temporarily collects all seven Chaos Emeralds, and these staged boss fights feel like an entirely different game. Dare I say it, between Titan battles and ancient ruins, Sonic Frontiers feels a bit like a Sonic Adventure game, and I think I mean that in a good way.

Outside of Titan battles, mini-bosses can be encountered, marked with an X on the current world map. They are usually massive enemies in their own right, often requiring multiple stages to defeat them. They reward gears, which are used to unlock portals, and those portals are gateways to the actual game levels, which are more traditional Sonic levels that we’re all used to – 2D and 3D levels that feature classic enemies to stomping, rails to grind, speed boosts to zoom in, and while these are usually completed in less than two minutes, represent some of the most fun you’ll have in Sonic Frontiers.

Depending on how many objectives of each level you reach or exceed, you will receive a certain number of portal keys upon returning to the overworld. Acquiring enough of these keys can unlock a nearby Chaos Emerald. Generally, you don’t need to complete too many objectives to earn enough keys to advance the story. However, there are times when the game requires you to collect enough memory tokens to talk to another character.

Collecting them isn’t a problem, but at least once per world you’re forced into a mini-game with few instructions and you must complete it to advance the story. This interrupts the rhythm of the game, because sometimes what you have to do in the mini-game is not at all clear. A few tries usually clear things up as you are forced to improvise a solution, but having these mini-games as a condition to continue the adventure leaves a bad impression.

An internal engine called Hedgehog Engine 2 powers Sonic Frontiers. It’s apparently a good engine, which can present large open areas and at least in the case of the PS5 offers a toggle for 60 fps or 4K prioritization. It seemed to follow the on-screen action in both modes, and while the higher frame rate is nice, the world just looks better in 4K mode. Quixel Megascans are also used, this is a set of mosaics containing very high resolution scans of environments, which can potentially free up environmental artists when creating worlds. It is evident in the various rocks, trees and other landscapes and gets the job done.

go fishing

The gang is all here in Sonic Frontiers, as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy and others take on Dr. Robotnik in his latest scheme involving the “oldies” and some kind of Cyber ​​Space zone controlled by a character that he created. Hell, even Big makes an appearance. Everyone is voiced, and while Sonic seems almost too mature for his character, you eventually get used to it.

The soundtrack of the game’s individual levels is actually surprisingly varied and even heart-pounding at times. Amplification entails applying a filter to the audio, to help sell the sense of speed. However, in the overworld, the music takes on a darker tone, and as Sonic runs around each new forsaken world he’s thrust into, things start out melancholy, but once again memories are replayed, the music becomes more lively, fitting into what feels like the full soundtrack intended for each zone. In fact, aside from a weird dance that Sonic occasionally performs when helping the Koco, none of the sounds sound like a Sonic game.

It’s something that stuck with me throughout my time with Sonic Frontiers. Since so much of your time is spent outside of the fast-paced main levels, it doesn’t really feel like a Sonic game. It feels like an RPG with an incredibly weird story, which is laced with a ton of sadness and loneliness. Most of these worlds are abandoned and Sonic is seemingly alone with his friends just out of reach as they are stuck between the worlds. Despite this, Sonic remains optimistic and resolute in his goal to once again save his friends from the clutches of evil. There’s a lot to unpack in this story, much of which is fanciful, but when even Dr. Robotnik gives a deeper insight into how he respects Sonic as an adversary, it’s obvious that Sonic Team wanted you maybe feel something about the world. and the story they present.

Sonic Frontiers is a weird but fun time. Individual levels feature Sonic at his fastest pace and ring-hoarding best, and some of the overworld sport’s rewarding exploration mechanics. Sonic Team’s insistence on blocking minigames that block story progression is frustrating to say the least, and some of the larger map designs feel a bit hit or miss. Overall, though, the weirdness of the story will make some see, well, where the hell is this all going. It’s weird how this doesn’t feel like a Sonic game outside of the individual levels, but it’s an interesting direction in which Sonic Team has taken their blue blur, and hopefully we’ll see some continued evolution happening. will turn into something big.

7.5 bronze trophy

  • Traditional levels are excellent
  • Open Overworlds Reward Exploration
  • The story even has feelings
  • Progress-blocking mini-games are frustrating
  • The combat almost makes it an ARPG
  • Suffers from an identity crisis

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