Sonic Frontiers First Impression: What Da Hell Is Goin’ On?

Sonic Frontiers First Impression: What Da Hell Is Goin’ On?

Let me preface this yarn about Sonic Frontiers with two things for complete transparency.

First of all, this is not a review for Sonic Frontiers as I haven’t gotten far enough into the game to figure out whether or not I actually like it. While it felt like I had played many, many hours of Sonic Frontiers, it turns out I’ve actually only played three. Three hours. Therefore, I can’t in good faith call this a review, so let’s just call this a first impression.

Second of all, I am going to keep playing Sonic Frontiers. I’ve been excited about this game for a while now, so I am adamant about continuing to give it a go. As a Sonic Adventure 2 appreciator, the least I can do is give the “open-zone” Sonic Frontiers a chance, right? Right. I’m keeping an open mind right now, but I still have some early gripes.

So now that that’s all out of the way, I’m going to tell you my experience with the opening hours of Sonic Frontiers (not including details about cutscenes, keeping it as spoiler-free as I can here) in terms of what they’re giving me with gameplay and the world around me, but also what I’m hoping for in my further playthrough of the game.

Upon starting Sonic Frontiers, you get the opening cutscenes that include Dr Eggman doing something nefarious, and Sonic and friends going for a plane ride before being dragged into something nefarious. From there, I (as Sonic) was dropped into my first dance with Cyber Space (this first level being a Green Hill Zone-themed spot), which is where a lot of the classic Sonic platforming comes into play.

These Cyber Space levels are fun! I’ll admit that! The aim of the game is speed though, and if you’re controlling a super-speedy guy like Sonic the Hedgehog, it helps to have a sense of control. Alas, I found myself getting shot in directions I was not trying to go in at the speed of light. It was… Annoying! Thankfully, it wasn’t happening all the time. But when it did happen, boy did it suck!

After this opening tutorial-type level, I was then met with the beginning of the “open-zone” world. To my understanding, Sonic Frontiers consists of five different islands that are filled with their own Cyber Space levels and things to do. So far, I have only explored a large part of the first island.

The first island looks great. Yes, I stand by the fact that it’s a little jarring at first to see a blue cartoon hedgehog in a world like this, but I think that’s the point. Sonic is in a world that he’s not familiar with, a world filled with sleek angry robots that he’s never seen before. It’s a stark difference, yes, but I can see what they’re going for.

You could make comparisons between Sonic Frontiers and Breath of the Wild, sure. However, they’re very different games for a myriad of reasons. Something that really sticks out to me with Sonic Frontiers that simultaneously makes it like and unlike Breath of the Wild is that when beginning both of the games, you are confronted with a sense of loneliness.

You wake up in a world that is unfamiliar to you, and are met with hostility from the world around you. What makes the two different though is that while Breath of the Wild eases that feeling through there being friendly NPCs around eventually as well as a disembodied voice that fills the void a bit, Sonic Frontiers presents you with a lot less. It’s not a critique, but rather a very sad observation.

As I ran through the world, making my way to my first boss in the game (who also became my sworn enemy – I’ll get to that), I saw quite a few Rings sitting in a line. Notably, in past Sonic games, lines of Rings are able to be ran through automatically with the press of a button and was a big part of platforming. The same is true for Sonic Frontiers except there was absolutely no prompt for it and I ended up learning how to do it way later in a loading screen (you press down on the left joystick).

I have both critique and praise for this system. The tutorialisation of Sonic Frontiers is mighty interesting, that’s for sure. While some points will provide you with a prompt to figure out how to do a certain move or techniques, other controls aren’t revealed to you until you get to a loading screen that plays as an extra tutorial in case you forgot how to do stuff. While I think it’s great to have a reminder of how I jump around, attack, body slam, and whatnot from time to time (I do be forgetting), it would be good to get those basic prompts like following a line of Rings out of the way early.

One of my main gripes with the game actually comes in the form of combat, and it’s not a problem with the combat itself. Such a large part of the open zones are coming face-to-face with bionic biblical angels, and fighting them genuinely feels really, really good. However, the sort of combat that they’re going for in Sonic Frontiers just really doesn’t work with the classic Sonic health system of Rings.

When faced with the first Boss in the game, I died a multitude of times simply because I didn’t manage to grab a Ring in time before the bastard hit me again. It’s a situation like this where a simple Health Bar rather than a reliance on Rings would really benefit the game. Having to constantly jump back just to grab a single Ring so I don’t get dunked on in two hits was, once again, annoying!

All this being said, I don’t hate Sonic Frontiers. Once I started to figure out what I was actually supposed to be doing, there were a lot of moments I really enjoyed. And once again, I’m still in the early stages of the game so there’s plenty of time for the game to really grow on me. At this current stage though, I’m not exactly sure what the hell is going on. I’m still keen to figure it out though.

And I want to see Big the Cat. I deserve that.


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