It should come as no surprise to those who know me, but for those who don't, I must tell you: I love Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ve been a fan of The Blue Blur since I was 4 years old and to this day, he has remained my favorite character of all time. Through countless cartoons, movies, comic books, and of course video games, Sonic has reigned supreme as my favorite character for most of my life. This character means a lot to me as a gamer and as the person I ended up becoming as I grew older.
With all of that said… being a Sonic fan isn’t easy. I’m not going to use that infamous “Sonic has had a rough transition to 3D” tagline because it has been blown out of proportion, but also because I believe not all 3D Sonic games are bad. There are of course Shadow the Hedgehog and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (more commonly known as Sonic 06’). But most of the other ones; the Sonic Adventure games are being hailed as classics, and we had two recent hits with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. This franchise may not have a perfect track record, but the situation on the surface isn’t as bad as some would make it out to be.
The next main 3D game in the franchise, Sonic Frontiers, is set to come out this holiday season and will be the first fully open-world Sonic the Hedgehog game. Yet, despite the fast-approaching release date, not much is known about the game. It was teased a year ago during a live stream with nothing but a short trailer and a target release date. It had a second trailer during the 2021 Video Game Awards which gave us a taste of the game’s tone and vibe… but nothing of the gameplay. And now, 5 months before the release, we were treated to two new gameplay videos.
As a fan… I’m not sure what to think.
Would I pick up the game? I will, regardless of public opinion. I have no problem admitting it, as I want to form my own thoughts on the product and not blindly follow a critic I don’t know. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the footage shown, presenting both the exploration and the combat in the game, left me unsure if I like what I see or not.
The exploration video presents Sonic running around the open world, climbing the structures occupying it, and solving some puzzles. Sonic’s move set also includes the well-known boost, stomp, homing attack, quick-step, and even the parkour system from Sonic Lost World. When it comes to traversal and platforming, I actually think the game looks really fun and I can see myself enjoying using Sonic’s abilities to get to places really quickly. However, the presentation lacks substance. What am I doing in this big open world? What is the purpose of the collectibles? Was that big tower mandatory or optional? It’s great that I can travel fast, but where am I supposed to travel to?
Things aren’t looking tons better with the combat video. I do like some of Sonic’s new melee abilities, his new special moves which look really cool, and that sparkly trail that has been teased in the trailers. While the combat moves look cool, the combat itself feels slow and repetitive. Every encounter with each enemy seems to be taking a really long time and it looks like it’s breaking the game’s pace. Sonic’s supposed to be fast, so why not allow those moves to speed up the combat so we could get a move on? An enemy shouldn’t take a whole minute to beat.
With all of my opinions aside, I also want to address that maybe the problems lay in the presentation rather than in the game itself? Was the lack of focus in the exploration video just what the game is, or the player just doing the optional stuff? Is the combat really that slow, or is the player taking too long? I can’t tell and I won’t be able to tell until I get to play the game myself. The game has been in development for at least 5 years, and I want to believe Sonic Team took their time to make sure things are the best they could be. But I can’t ignore the fact that this is their first time making a game like this and mistakes can happen, not to mention their inconsistent track record.
My opinion on Sonic Frontiers as of now is very mixed, and I don’t think I can say much else until I either see more of the game or get to play it myself. Being unsure about a game is the most agonizing feeling one can have. You can either have the time of your life or want to throw your controller through the window. Sonic Frontiers could end up either way, I just can’t tell you which. This Sonic fan may be uncertain, but he’s hoping for the best possible outcome regarding this upcoming adventure.
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