Sonic Frontiers brings open world to renew the franchise, but… Analysis / Review

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Sonic Frontiers brings open world to renew the franchise, but... Analysis / Review

Sonic is a legend in the video game industry and became such a hit that he surpassed other mediums, even reaching the cinema and breaking records. The phenomenon allowed a new generation to get to know the hedgehog and put it on the rise again, something that made Sega excited for more projects.

More than thirty years after his birth, the hero returns for his most ambitious adventure yet: Sonic Frontiers. The main highlight of the title is taking the hedgehog to the open world, bringing more freedom to the player, in addition to clashes against giant monsters, requiring skill and strategy.

With the intention of making peace with the players who hated the 3D games of the franchise, will Sonic Frontiers be the definitive title that will unite the old guard and new fans of the hero? Check it all out in our review!

new worlds

As you’d expect, Sonic Frontier’s plot is simple, something you’d expect from the hero. Don’t expect an elaborate script, twists or complexities, but even so, it leaves a lot to be desired, especially compared to previous games, such as Sonic Unleashed.

At times, there are interesting action scenes or the hedgehog cracking a “Sonic de ser” joke that will make you laugh, but most of the time, the hero will be talking to an NPC. This highlights a pacing issue and will leave players, especially younger ones, impatient for some action.

Only in the final stretch does the narrative gain an extra boost and start referencing past games, which will bring a smile to the faces of veterans, but ends in a disappointing way. The problem is getting to that point after several hours of tedious dialogue and few moments that really deserve the player’s attention.

Despite the other Sonic games having a cheerful and colorful tone, which delights children, the new game forgets that and brings a more serious and restrained tone, damaging the narrative and making monotony prevail.

Maximum speed

The game starts linearly to introduce the various aspects of gameplay and new mechanics, such as Cyberloop, which allows Sonic to run leaving a trail of light that, when closed, will cause an effect on items or enemies, being useful for dispatching groups of opponents. .

After completing the initial stage, the game will introduce its open world and encourage you to explore wherever you want. Clearly, Sega was inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to give the player more freedom, but make no mistake: Sonic Frontiers is far below Nintendo’s acclaimed exclusive.

The game’s approach is more contained and the open world is much smaller, with the player being able to traverse it from one end to the other in approximately one minute. However, to unlock parts of the map, it is necessary to complete simple minigames, such as activating a button and reaching the marked location or placing statues in the correct position.

In the speed stretches, Sonic Frontiers shines and entertains, particularly when the turbo is activated and the hedgehog gets enough rings to unleash his power, but the problem starts in the parts that require platform gameplay. To begin with, his jump is inaccurate and when crossing certain routes, you’ll notice that despite taking a path, the hedgehog “loses” the path and goes to another, causing frustration.

And when you think you will finally hit the platform, there are bugs that make Sonic go “straight” or else, the camera unexpectedly changes position and does not favor the view, causing accidental falls into chasms. Fortunately, some controls are automatic, such as changing rails when sliding, which reduces the frustration of missing some sections.

The open world features five islands that can be explored, but the scenarios sound generic and don’t encourage the player to look for secrets, especially with the platform controls being torture. When playing for about 1 hour, you will also notice another problem: repetition.

Sonic Frontiers can be defined as an adventure in which Sonic needs to obtain different collectibles to unlock some part of the island, obtain the Chaos Emerald, collect coins and unlock story cinematics with several lines of dialogue that rarely have any relevant information, but the cycle repeats itself for more than 15 hours and undermines the player’s patience.

A point that helps to break the pace and brings fun sections are the Cyberspace levels, where the player will need to fulfill certain objectives in more traditional and linear phases, adopting 2D and 3D elements. In order not to spoil surprises, I’ll just say that they are based on classic games and provide nostalgic moments.

Sonic Frontiers also brings a new combat system for the hedgehog that looked promising, but ends up being restricted to repetition and pressing square until all enemies are killed, except in cases where it will be necessary to use some different mechanics, something that the player will rarely remember. For younger kids, machine-gunning the buttons to dispatch everything within reach might be fun, but it won’t appeal to the most demanding gamers.

However, boss battles yield interesting and fun moments, when the platform section works. The game takes inspiration from Shadow of the Colossus, but forgets that the classic also had precise controls, something Sonic Frontiers lacks, making some sections, like climbing bosses, a test of patience.

Sonic Frontiers’ biggest opponent isn’t Dr. Robotnik or the mysterious creatures, but the camera. In important battles, especially when activating Super Sonic mode, you’ll be confused, you’ll end up missing your blows and the enemy won’t be sorry to give you a wallop, making the experience irritating.

In the activities that the map offers, one of the most fun is fishing. Sonic can access the region through Cyberspace and through a simple mini-game, catch a variety of fish and relax a little from battles and full speed. Mechanically, everything is simple and made for you to get coins and other useful items without any difficulties.

mysterious nature

Graphically, Sonic Frontiers looks like a last generation game and uses a CRT filter, which leaves the game with an older appearance, which does not fit well and helps the look to become more old-fashioned and soulless. The main characters also do not escape this and have models that look unfinished, with strange facial expressions.

The game has two graphics modes on PlayStation 5 with 30 FPS and 4K or 60 FPS and dynamic 1800p, but especially the second suffers from optimization issues. It is common for objects to “appear” in front of you, especially if you are running, bringing one of the worst pop in effects ever seen in a title of this generation, in addition to FPS drops at critical moments.

Sonic Frontiers has a more melancholy soundtrack than you’d expect from a hedgehog game. Explorations around the world are set to piano tracks, while boss battles jump to rock, creating fearless hero Sonic atmospheres that excite and yield epic cutscenes.

The big disappointment is that SEGA didn’t bring Sonic Frontiers with dub in Portuguese, only subtitles. With the character’s success here after the movies, it would have been a gift for fans to call Manolo Rey, the hedgehog’s official voice actor in the country.

Worth the investment?

Sonic Frontiers is a bold attempt by Sega to renew the franchise, but it fails to bet on wanting to implement several complex things at the same time, forgetting that the greatest asset of the hero’s games is fun and simplicity.

The story does not excite with its overly serious tone, the platforming sections are frustrating due to imprecise controls and the replay looping will not appeal to players looking for a more refined experience, in addition to annoying optimization problems. However, the younger audience or fans of the hedgehog will be able to have fun by overlooking these problems.

Playback: Marcus Vinicius Rosa / TechSmart.com

Sonic Frontiers is available now for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.

Giant boss battlesSoundtrackReferences to previous gamesfun speed sectionsclassic stagesFishingSubtitles in portuguese
outdated graphicsrepetitive combatUninteresting and soulless storyimprecise controlsoptimization problemsProblematic platform sectionsNo dubbing in Portuguesegeneric open world

Graphics

Sonic Frontiers, graphically, looks like a game from the beginning of the last generation.

gameplay

The title has good speed sections, but the repetitive combat and the platform part is imprecise and frustrating, but it should please younger people.

History

With a contained story that tries to be serious, the narrative becomes uninteresting and dragged.

Soundtrack

Despite having beautiful piano and rock tracks, the Europeian dubbing is lacking, especially for children who are fans of the hedgehog.

Immersion

Sonic Origins is riddled with bugs and other issues that mar the experience.

Total Grade

Sonic Frontiers tries to renew the franchise, but fails when trying to do too many things in such a technically limited title. However, it should yield hours of fun for kids and hedgehog fans.

*TechSmart would like to thank SEGA’s advisor, TheoGames, for providing a copy of Sonic Frontiers for PlayStation 5 for analysis.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise