Sonic Frontiers REVIEW (PS5)
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
''A NEW FRONTIER''
Developed: Sonic Team
Genre: Open World Adventure
Release Date: Nov 8th,2022
Platforms: PS5/PS4/PC/NSW/Xbox Family
*Review copy provided to me by SEGA*
''THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!''
The blue blur is back on our game consoles once again to bring us his newest adventure, but this time with wide open spaces. No not the wide open spaces from The Dixie Chicks, but from the creative minds of Sonic Team. With Sonic coming off a big year from remasters of old titles like Sonic Origins and the awesome sequel movie, Sonic Team aims to put some respect back on this chili dog fiend. But do they succeed in what they attempt? or is this another Sonic Forces all over again? Only one way to find out, so lets speed into action!
In search of the missing Chaos emeralds, Sonic, Amy and Tails become stranded on an ancient island teeming with unusual creatures. With Amy, Tails and even his buddy Knuckles having been trapped by a strange being named, Sage, Sonic must now race against time to learn the mysteries of the land and save his friends before its too late.
Even though Sonic has come off an amazing year with Sonic Origins, Sonic sequel movie and even the upcoming Netflix show, Sonic Prime, there was still a black cloud hanging over our beloved mascot. This cloud is known as the Sonic cycle. Like I've talked about before in my Sonic Colors Ultimate review, for every one great game, we get a plethora of bad ones - that's basically the lore behind it. Having just come off a recent title like Sonic Forces for the 3D landscape of Sonic, which further pushed Sonic into the ''the games are bad'' territory, Sonic Team decided change must be enacted before the damage was done to the IP's reputation as a whole. Now taking a page out of other open world games, with 5 massive islands to explore, skills to unlock with a new combat system, secrets to unearth, and a story much different than you'd expect, we look to see if the cycle is broken this go around thanks to Sonic Frontiers. So join me in this somewhat deep dive as we check out aspects of the story, the islands, challenges, extra content and overall gameplay itself. So grab a chili dog and your coupon to Olive Garden, cause it's time to go fast.
We open up the game with Robotnik in a forest looking for Slenderman.. well ok no, he's activating some strange and mysterious monument, however while investigating it, he himself is sucked into it and disappears without a trace. Transitioning now to our heroes of the story, we see Sonic, Tails and Amy flying on their way to recover the Chaos Emeralds from Starfall Islands, and Tails being a terrible pilot that he is, loses control of his plane and the whole gang is sucked into a portal, just like Eggman. Who or what could've done this? honestly, my money is on Falco, he shot them down, that cocky little freak. Immediately after coming to his senses, Sonic is in a Cyber Space dimension that resembles Green Hill Zone, weird. My first thought though? we can't ever escape Green Hill Zone, can we? its literally in every game... but back on topic. After completing this really fun opening segment, that let's you get the feel for how the boost levels will play this go around in comparison to Sonic Forces, we transition to Sonic.exe where Sonic is dead. Wait no, I'm joking, he was merely knocked out and is now in a strange new world. Tails and Amy are nowhere to be seen, he must find them, no matter what - but before he can collect himself, a strange voice echoes in his head ''You are the key''. Key? key for what? Uhh listen woman, don't give me that key crap, you aren't Gozer and Sonic definitely isn't Zuul or a keymaster, so go kick rocks. Ehh sorry. Let's move on.
So when you're finally able to get past the opening section of this new island that has you opening a mysterious gate, you're greeted with a vast open world to explore. This thing looks massive and not only that, its stunningly gorgeous and plumped right in the middle of the map for you to see? a gigantic monster, kaiju sized machine, named Asura. Oh man is this fight cool. Being as kid in a candy store that I am, I of course had to go try and attack him and yeah.. mistake. But once again were off topic. With five massive areas to explore like Kronos Island with its vast gorgeous green fields and gigantic titans like Asura that roam the land, Ares Island with its blistering sun and heat of the desert, making you get vibes of Gerudo Valley from Zelda or how sand is Anakin Skywalkers worst nightmare due to how much sand there is around here. ''Hah! Green Hill is looking more like Sand Hill right about now''. What?. Had to, sorry. Other areas including Chaos Island with its dark atmosphere with smoldering volcanos and cliffs overlooking the soft looking clouds, Rhea Island with its very robust forests and mysterious ruins, and Ouranos Island with the vibrant flower fields that make you think you are about to see Squall fulfilling his promise to Rinoa, but no, sorry girl, he won't be coming. You get the overall picture, map big, map pretty. So with islands and a playground this big to screw around with, you have to have stuff to do to keep yourself entertained, right? well duh. Past criticisms of games like Breath Of The Wild, being that, for a world so beautiful and unique, there was literally not much to do in it. But here in Sonic Frontiers, oh man, Is there a ton to do. So let's dive into just some of the dang things you'll be doing.
With the vast change from past Sonic games and with the game now going open spaced or open world, changes would need to be made to not only the traditional Sonic formula, but also in the way Sonic himself controls, feels and plays. When beginning this journey, you can choose what style you want to play on, basically a level of difficulty to determine if you're a seasoned vet of Sonic or brand new and want a more leisure paced Sonic game - I went the route of picking the setting of a vet Sonic player as I want the full experience of going as fast as possible and staying up above 50 miles per hour so I do not disappoint Keanu Reeves. Exploring these huge open zones will give you chances to use the world itself to your advantage as you speed through open fields, up mountains, using railing to speed across terrain quicker, go from 3D open world to fast paced 2D sections of map to collect coins, memory tokens, purple coins, or even just to be a crazy lunatic and just wanting to go fast just do it... like me. Exploring and running around like a freak on a leash isn't the main focus of the title, no way, even though it is rather fun - because in this large open game, every area has challenges to complete, secrets to uncover, portals to open that reveal new Cyber Space dimension levels that offer you ways to play remixed levels of zones like Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant Zone, Sky Sanctuary Zone, allow you to collect Purple Coins to use in fishing games with BIG The Cat to obtain Eggman memos, rings and other upgrades for abilities, find baby little Koco that are a key part of the narrative taking place in this game, collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds, etc. Phew, you get it. That's a lot just talking about.
As you further explore the island get the hang of your Cyloop ability that allows you dash in a circle to unlock secrets hidden behind blue lights or damage enemies, you may take part in challenges with some having you press ancient switches, that initiate challenge missions such as hitting a stone tablet that makes you race to the end of a set path before time runs out, spinning in place like a gerbil in a mouse wheel to create electricity, use Cyloop to put out fires, use the Cyloop on a rocket, pick it up and load it into a cannon to fire on a giant pillar in the sky to activate it and clear out desert water to make a brand new path, jump through blue square symbols in the correct order.. but not like me who overthought what I was supposed to do, climbed the mountain and then trying to jump down and dash through it.. which I literally did for twenty minutes, when this entire time all I had to do was use Cyloop on a monument right next to the starting area, the ENTIRE time. Oh my god. I am way too stupid. But you get it, there's lots of challenges, heck, I didn't even talk about challenges that have you deflect energy balls that are shot at you while you have to try parrying it, free fall sky diving through blue targets or jumping left and right to match the colors on the floor before allotted time runs out. There's just so many challenges to do and they're absolutely crucial to finding your way around any of the five islands due to them unlocking pieces of your map, which reveals locations of more portals showing you where to take part in more Cyber Space missions, locations of Koco elders to level your speed, defense, attack, location of Chaos Emeralds, and other points of interest.
As you defeat mini boss Guardians like Asura that is over 30ft tall and who slams his hand into the ground which releases speed boosts for you to use to run to his head and melee him, use your speed against a Guardian known as Tower, who throws spikes at you as you try to look for an opening to knock off each part of his body parts, Guardian Strider who sets ring rails for you to boost on that launches you on a platform in order to melee and fight him while dodging fire and electric attacks, etc. When you defeat just these few baddies, you can dive back in and get enthralled once more into the story of this title, which is actually way more thought out than previous Sonic entries and way better character development. Progressing through the story, you find Amy, Tails and even Knuckles trapped in red dimensional balls, now holographic versions of themselves. To save them, you need their memory tokens. Tails needs wrenches, Knuckles needs medals, Amy needs hearts? uhh, yeah, she basically got the same straw that poor boy Ma-Ti got in Captain Planet. You can obtain these memory tokens by solving puzzles, destroying regular enemies or finding secrets using Cyloop. Its from here on that you learn more about the mysterious Sage with who'm that little turd is working for Doctor Eggman, venture to Ares Island to free Knuckles, but not before harnessing my inner ADHD and running off and fighting a Strider instead, nearly die by the hands of Sage but get saved by Knuckles at the last second, learn more about the Koco's past life and how their planet came to be extinct, watch a tender moment between Sonic and Knuckles as Knuckles opens up and realizes that Koco, they're just like his fellow Echidna, all wiped out, all alone, but Sonic, always the good friend, reassures him that he's never alone because he's got everyone else, its really sweet moment. It shows how far Knuckles and Sonic have come since the days of Sonic 3 and its really heartening character development. But now that you know some key things about the story without HUGE major spoilers, challenges, Cyber Space - what of the CORE gameplay like battling? oh boy. Here we go.
Being as how you have to have more than a freaking spin dash this go around, Sonic Team has implemented a skill set movement list that will be crucial to unlocking, should you want to use Sonic's true potential. Going to your skill menu, you see that you have a TON to unlock, all skills having their own unique uses and individual chains to use during your attack combos. Sonic Boom that unleashes high speed kick showaves, Phantom Rush that activates when combo meter is maxed for a full on Dragon Ball attack with quick attacks in succession, Wild Rush that zigzag attacks your foes, Homing Shot that locks onto a target and releases a volley of energy at them, Spin Dash that lets you spin like a top and deal massive spin damage to an enemy, Loop Kick that gives you the ability to super jump kick, Stomp Attacking to harness your inner Mario and stomp on baddies heads, Cross Slash, while similar to Sonic Boom, allows you to circle around an enemy with a variety of shockwave shots, etc. Besides those main fighting skills, other useful upgrades are also available, such as Air Trick Shot that allows you to press the right stick around during jumps to gain Skill Pieces needed to raise your skill points, and finally, Auto Combo, which is good for people that want the game to chain combos together for them, so you don't have to remember all the inputs for everything. Because let's face it, not even Rain Man could remember half of this stuff. So how do you level these bad boys up? Well that's where skill pieces and Koco's come into play as they're the only way you can level up all your attack skills, your ring capacity, movement speed, attack power and defense, but again, HOW do you do this? BY COLLECTING SKILL PIECES AND FINDING KOCO'S, I just told you, you goof!. I'm sorry. Forgive me. I'll elaborate a little bit on what I mean.
While you explore more of the world and experience more of the story with seeing the past once again in relation to the Koco, as lasers rain down from the heavens to destroy their land, learn about their history of using the Chaos Emeralds to escape the planet, in which the way the planet is being destroyed reminded me of Frieza from Dragon Ball because that's some crap that he would do, noticing Sonic become more sick and weak with every major titan he defeats to save his friend as his body becomes corrupted by a virus, see Sage slowly transform into a caring being after watching Sonic fight so hard for those he loves, witness Robotnik go from just a regular ol run of the mill evil genius hell bent on revenge, to a caring man who is capable of having emotions, such as viewing Sage as his own daughter and putting his ego aside to team up with Sonic in order to stop the threat, etc. After all those really great story beats, its time to put into motion and prepare for the big end boss fights that will take all your power, all your speed and require everything you've learned up to that point and then some. In order to raise skill points needed to unlock abilities needed for the upcoming fight, you must kill anything that moves that you encounter out in the open world, break all boxes you see, or in my case, cheat to heck and back. How? well on Kronos, there's one single spring available to do skill tricks with, this can be used to bounce constantly off of, which allows you to do tricks and get infinite skill points by bouncing up and down and twisting the right stick as fast as you can. You can literally get two to three skill points per minute, yes that's right, that's like 120 skill points per hour. This is the perfect method for quick, easy and productive skill points to get you well on your way to bolster your own strength. But what of Speed, Defense, Attack Power and Ring Capacity, can you use skill points for those? heck no you can't, that would be way too easy!
By killing regular enemies and beating the mini game challenges throughout each map, you will then obtain items known as ''seeds'', these blue and red seeds will be used at the Elder and hermit Koco in order to raise your attack power and defense power and the more seed you bring to them, the faster you can max everything out, straight forward and simple, you just have to fight and explore, nothing mind blowing. On the flipside, you also have your speed and ring capacity with upgrades like ring capacity allowing you hold more rings so you can keep your infinite boost holding R2 longer as you increase your speed, and raising your said speed by collecting little Koco's hidden around the world. Just find them, pick them up, take them to the Koco Elder, easy. What amazes me about these little guys is that there's so many of them, hundreds, yet they all feel important and warrant searching out, unlike Korok seeds in Breath Of The Wild that just gave you pieces of poop. Seriously Nintendo, what the crap?. Now during my playthrough, in which I played for over 30 hours, I happened to max out my speed, attack power, defense and that's when I started getting rather weird, with me rushing across stages seeing what I can do with my new found power by chasing down a bird, but missing and not being able to go on adventures with a bird friend, went and discovered stuff like abandoned Eggman space ships, minding my own business when a damn flying bot comes interrupts my search for a mysterious area and the dang jerk steals my freaking Chaos Emerald! hey! you freaking jerk, get back here!, you can't run from me! - and he didn't, he died. No one lays a finger on my butter finger, I mean Chaos Emerald. I can't express how much there is to do and see in this game, from being able to activate an Eggman robot and blow a hole in the ground because were jerks like that, opening a StarGate portal that unlocks the non terrible version of Sonic Spinball, fight mini bosses like Squid and I immediately want to jump on his back and kick his butt because again, my ADHD tells me, big monster, must fight. Using his purple body that acts like a runway, you must run at boost speed, loop dodge left and right from fire and then giving him a boop on the head to initiate a one versus one fight. Its fast, intense and overall amazing. I fell my first time because I suck and automatically blamed HIM for it and was like ''Ohh you're so gonna get it'', before I just got back on and whip his tail, just like Knuckles was doing to Sonic in the Sonic 2 movie. Wait a minute.. did I just mention... Yup!
You guys really didn't think I was going to do a review without talking about the boss fights, right? cause oh my lord, this game has them in droves and they're mostly an absolute treat. After exploring a bit on Ares Island, Sage freaking sicks Serpentara after you. Well no its not Lord Zedd's Zord but its close enough. Its a gigantic Wyvern. Holy ship. It is the most bad ass fight I've ever witnessed in a Sonic game, literally ever. To get to him you must first climb towers by fast railing, wall running, spring bouncing and then the real fun begins. When getting to the top you must run along his long tail like the Squid boss before, before ultimately getting the Chaos Emerald off his back and finally going Super Saiyan Mode. No lie, its insane. Flying around at super sonic speeds, soaring fast across the entire map while giving chase to Wyvern, dodging his missiles, lasers and knocking rockets back into him to stun him with Sonic going toe to toe stopping his power dead in its tracks, prying open his mouth, which sends him to his doom, and good lord, it was so damn awesome.
Other boss fights occur like when you fight a Shark in the sands of Ares, and it had me just thinking, ''Ok, who let House Shark out of the house". This mini boss fight feels like you took the grabbing whale mechanic from Sonic Adventure and made it a boss fight, no lie. I was walking around minding my own business when kaplow! a massive sand shark jumps out and takes me for a ride, with me having to QTE press left, right and down on the left stick to dodge bombs and other hazards and hang on for dear life. Its not a hard boss fight at all, but the interactive way you fight it, makes it really fun and engaging. There is also a Sumo machine that entraps you in a closed off cage with electric walls that you cant damage normally, so you must use the green ropes to bounce yourself off the walls in order to knock him back into the purple electric lasers, this will cause him to get stunned and weak enough to attack. The fight can be either really freaking fun or really annoying, depending at how good you are at juggling Sonic around.
There's so many more, but to tell you all of them would be a disservice to the overall game and to you as the player.
Ok. I wasn't really sure if I was going to make this its own separate category or give it a gameplay segment, but I felt it was best to do it this way. Movement is a key component to everything this game. Whether its the speed of 2D sections with wall running and jumping, dash speeding across open terrain, running in Cyber Space levels, it literally makes up like 95% of what the game is all about and it doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to feel good. So does it? yes and no. When exploring each of the five islands just free roaming to your hearts content is when the game is at its personal strengths with character animation, smoothness and overall feel of Sonic himself, he controls like a dang dream and its easily the most fluid he's ever felt in any Sonic game up to this point, it literally feels like Sonic was designed for this type of environment all along. Dashing, spinning around enemies with cyloop, hitting rocks at specific speeds and launching you into the air to pull off trick shots feels absolutely bliss on top of it all. But where movement falls short to me is within the open world 2D sections and unfortunately the Cyber Space levels. During open world adventures, you will come across 2D sections of the map that lock you into a side scrolling camera, it literally locks you into place and you either have to backtrack to get out of it or finish the route they want you to go on. Obviously these aren't mandatory, but you will get stuck in them accidentally by randomly hitting a wrong speed pad and will no longer be able to move in your usual 360 motion. It was cool at first but it grew thin on me after awhile.
Cyber Space also doesn't control that well either. I mean it's not as bad as games like Sonic Forces where the entire thing felt broken or clunky, but it also doesn't feel as refined and smooth like Sonic Generations did. Its very weird. It works just fine, but the sense of momentum and character perspective when leaping and using grind rails feels off and more jittery, its more sensitive. Once again, movement doesn't suck, it just takes some getting used to is all. Just be prepared to miss jumps you probably should've made though. Its going to happen.
When you're done with the story or... heck even when you're not done with it, there's so much to do that it can make it feel a bit daunting. Depending on how many Cyber Space levels you completed your during your playthrough, feel free to destroy mini bosses and other fiends around the map to obtain Gears that allow you access to even more Cyber Space puzzles, when fulfilling objectives like collect all red rings, finish with 30-60 coins, beat the level with an S rank, you'll obtain keys needed to gain access to Chaos Emeralds as well. Max out speed, power, defense like I did during my playthrough in both an easy and quick way doing what I did. During your journey you will notice you picked up Purple Coins, these coins can be used to go fishing with good ol Cat friend, BIG. Oh yes, he finally makes his grand return and in a rather hilarious and fun fishing mini game. During this mini game, you will use your purple coins as currency to play his mini game for 8 coins, the bigger or more rare fish you catch, the higher the amount of fish coins you obtain. Use these fish coins to purchase eggman memos, memory tokens to get further side story with Amy, Tails, Knuckle and Sage, more rings, purchase seeds and lost Koco to help raise your abilities and stats, etc. Now I went into this with nearly 1000 purple coins and was able to max out my character with just 400 purple coins roughly. Simple toss your line in the water, wait for a bite, then QTE time the games meter and pow, you got a fish! or... uhh a tire?... no wait, an alligator?- what the heck is up with this lake?
My favorite thing however is something a bit more simplistic. Every few night and day cycles, an event will take place in Starfall Islands where stars.. uh.. you know, fall. All enemies previously defeated will respawn and now colored fragments will be scattered all over the map for you to pick up. Blue, Pink, Purple, every color of the wind is here and it makes the scenery freaking stunning. Its so dang pretty. But what is the purpose of these? well by picking one up, it activates a slot machine and should you get matching symbols, you'll gain a decent amount of purple coins. This is the sure fire way to get purple coins quickly and at a fast pace.
As Knuckles would say ''Oh No''. Much like everything else I review, this title is not about to get passed on for criticism. Sure I may not over exaggerate things like a lot of reviewers I've seen cover this title do, but I will state my piece. Firstly, for people that are easily hit with motion sickness, be cautioned the further you level Sonic's speed, mainly anything after level 30 because with the sporadic movement along with screen movement, it could potentially give you motion sickness if you aren't prepared. A second issue I have is like I said before with 2D sections of the open world maps, they just feel out of place and can ruin your flow, they really shouldn't be here and the 2D should've stuck strictly to Cyber Space levels. As mentioned previously with the plethora of challenges and puzzles to partake in, sometimes less is more. What I mean by this is while yes they're here in abundance, a lot of these challenges are near repeats of another with minor tweaks like more squares to touch, touch two glowing pads instead of one, repel energy balls 3 times instead of 2, etc. They aren't bad bad, but it does tend to feel a bit lackluster around mid game and that's a shame.
At the end of the day, Sonic Frontiers far exceeded my expectations in nearly every facet. If there was an on going Sonic Cycle, well consider that broken and smashed to pieces like Dino Spumoni smashing antique chairs. Sonic Team, while not having a perfect game obviously with 2D issues, Cyber Space control problems, some challenges feeling repeated, they still nail with speed, addictive combat, gorgeously filled worlds, boss fights against Godzilla sized Kaiju like Giganto and Knight, taking flying bone monsters to their death by grabbing their wings and plowing them to the floor and engaging in pretty fun puzzles like when you meet up with Knuckles mid story and he's looking at some ancient balls, wait, no no, mind out of the gutter, they're colored ancient tablets that must be put in their proper holes... oh gosh dangit, once again out of the gutters guys. What I'm trying to say is, to get the balls where they need to go you have to make sure its a tight fit. Ugh, you know what, no, its a freaking crane, YOU USE A CRANE and lift them into the sky and place them in their colored designated target. You guys have a dirty mind.
So guys, with all this having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW