Sonic Frontiers, review of the open world Team Sonic

The one of Sonic The Hedgehog is one of the longest-running (and important) sagas of the contemporary videogame panorama. Born on (and as a symbol of the newborn) Sega Mega Drive, the blue hedgehog, hedgehog for friends, has crossed the generational boundaries of various gaming machines, reaching the present day in full identity crisis, with games unable to render dignity and luster to a saga with a noble heritage. Sonic Frontiersmade by Team Sonic original (to keep an eye on Amazon too), therefore tries to revive the fate of the porcupine made in Sega (American pronunciation, please), bringing before us a “hybrid” adventure, with the aim of projecting the saga into the future, while maintaining a strong connection with its origins.

Already from this description of intentions, it is clear to imagine that the road to success, although paved with obstacles and traveled at insane speed, is far from complete, bringing to our attention a product eager to overdo it, interesting but endemically imperfect. Let’s find out why.

Scrolling through the history of Soniceach of the episodes (also featured in the Sonic Origins collection)in spite of a gameplay hectic and fulfilling, has always left something to be desired (not that it mattered much, going at 300 per hour from one vortex to another) in terms of plot. With Sonic Frontiers the guys from Team Sonic wanted to pose remedy for this perennial defaillance, delivering a damn well packaged product in terms of texturehowever, can be discovered in its entirety only by completing every single assignment present in the game world (representing, in fact, an appeal not just for the maniacs of completism).

Without wishing to defeat and flaunt the finely arranged narrative system to the four winds, it is enough to know that the work of Eggman, eager to take possession of ancient ancestral-technological powerswill lead to the activation of a dimensional portal capable of sucking everything around it into a cyberspace from which it will be impossible to escape. And this is precisely the fate of Sonic and singing company, with the only difference that our beloved, thanks to his super-speed, will be able to interrupt this dimensional short-circuit and return – by arrogance – to an alternative non-digital “reality”, despite being trapped in another world, the Islands Starfall, with the need to find a way to free his friends and simultaneously defeat the ancient titans, whose presence represents a threat and a damnation for the population of all the islands.

If we add to this that, due to his experiments, there will be a possibility (called certainty) to run into the Dr. Eggmanhis historical nemesis, you will understand well that the feathers (quills, sorry) of our porcupine, they are far from safe.

Sonic Frontiers tries to project the saga into the future, remaining hooked to the origins of the same

The two environments mentioned here, cyberspace and the Starfall Islands, represent two completely different game worldsalso separated by two absolutely different modes of use and, in their own way, innovative with respect to what has been seen in past episodes (leaving out, the ahinoi, very negligible Sonic Forces). The sections set in cyberspace, albeit completely in 3D, arise in direct continuity with the original gamesallowing us to whiz, sifting through obstacles and shortcuts, in pre-established and predetermined paths, with the sole obsession, in pure style Sonic the Hedgehogthe acquisition of coins and the completion of the internship in the shortest possible time.

Like the old episodes, the shorter the time to complete the level (and the more coins collected in doing so), the greater the bonuswhich will substantiate itself in a greater evolutionary possibility (in the form of points, which can be spent as an RPG) of our beloved porcupine. Furthermore, the achievement of one (or more) objectives of these short but intense sequences, will allow us to obtain a number of keys useful to unlock, in the “real” setting of the portals from which we will be able to reach Chaos Emerald whose collection will allow us, at the end of each stage, to face the colossus on duty, but let’s go in order.

Sonic Frontiers

The real counterpart, corresponding to the Starfall Islands, is the one on which the Team Sonic he has bet most of his cards and is also the one that, objectively, contains the most substantial innovations in gameplay. Imagine the typical gameplay of any Sonic game, transform it into 3D and set everything in an open-world world: done?

Just talking about it, my eyes shine but, following an old adage, not everything that shines is gold: in this case, the tears of emotion soon give way to a disheartening disappointment, given by the fact that the many ideas put into play end up being redundant, repetitive and almost devoid of any charm. If, in fact, the peregrination in the world open-world represents, in fact, a great and very welcome novelty, to make you turn up your nose is the absolute schematicity than what is proposed to us on the screen, finding ourselves, in fact, in front of a hit’n run set in an open worldwhose presence, however, adds little in terms of gameplay.

We will therefore be forced, despite the vastness of the game world, to make a series of evolutions between platforms in the order prepared by the creators and the fights, while interesting, with the creatures present in the game world, will reveal themselves soon unsatisfactoryalso given the ability of the same respawn always in the same locations, thus debasing and nullifying the feeling of freedom that the title, from the premises, would have wanted to give us.

The gameplay of each Sonic, set in an open world – To you Sonic Frontiers

Sure, the fights with the Titans, which can be activated upon reaching five Chaos Emeralds, they represent a very welcome one (and funny, indeed) variation on the themebut flowing, once the pattern is understood (very similar among all the titans in the game) useful to defeat them, in a very simple race against time, repetitive and not very stimulating.

While not a complete flop, Sonic Frontiers is far from being a failure, mind youwhat seems to be missing is the inspiration, the heart, the so-called “soul” of the old games, as if the Team Sonicin search of a new identity for a saga that struggles to keep up with time – was in a pseudo-confusional state – by inserting as many things as possible into a product that, in the eyes of us gamers, cannot do that a qualitative leap that we have been waiting for for too many years.

Sonic Frontiers

Graphically, Sonic Frontiers does its job sufficientlynot shining qualitatively in 4k mode (tested on an Xbox Series X), instead giving excellent sensations of speed in 60fps modesacrificing resolution on the altar of fluidity.

The five islands at our disposal, while diversifying by setting and colors, do not shine for constructive quality, bringing to our eyes always similar gameplay structures, set in chromatically different worlds. Paradoxically, it is the “closed” sections of cyberspace that make our eyes shine with emotionsdamn well done, with schematic but functional gameplay dynamics, and in pure old-school style.

The sound sector, likewise, does its without infamy and without praise, giving us an accompaniment of good caliber, but certainly not unforgettable. Positive note, the presence of dubbing in Italian.