Sonic Frontiers Review – An Unpolished Emerald

Sonic Frontiers kickstart's SEGA's redemption arc.

Sonic Frontiers Review
Overall
3
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Sonic Frontiers is, without a doubt, the best 3D game in the series to date, but that doesn’t mean that it is a perfect game.

Pros

  • Fun Digital Levels.
  • Great Sound Design And OST.
  • Bosses Are Fun.

Cons

  • Unintuitive Combat System.
  • Unpolished Animations.
  • Distracting Asset Pop-In.

My Sonic Frontiers review covers the latest installment in a series that a lot of fans have been eagerly awaiting for a long, long time. And after so much fanfare, fans of the series can finally rejoice. This brand new 3D platforming-action game developed by the Sonic Team is available now on all major platforms.

Quick Information
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release date: November 8, 2022
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
  • Game Length: 16.5 Hours
  • Time Played: 18 Hours
  • Editor’s Note: We thoroughly tested Sonic Frontiers on PC, putting in roughly 18 hours into the completion of the main story.

And as some of you may be aware, the game has been somewhat of a hit within the core audience of the franchise, but that also isn’t to say that it is a perfect game. In fact, the game has its fair share of flaws, and reviewers and fans alike have been very vocal about the plethora of problems that hold the title back from true greatness.

Story And Setting

sonic frontiers review
The Story. (Image by eXputer)

Sonic Frontiers features a narrative a lot like the ones we’ve seen in previous entries in the franchise, which is to say it’s pretty basic. It has a lot of the elements that we’ve seen before, including but not limited to the same iconic cast of characters that fans of the series have come to love.

The game starts off with Sonic, Tails, and Amy flying in a plane in order to investigate some strange activity that has drawn the Chaos Emeralds to a place known as the Starfall Islands.

But upon approaching the location, their plane gets sucked into a mysterious portal and Sonic wakes up to find himself separated from his friends in a digital world, and a strange voice tells him to gather the Chaos Emeralds and defeat the Titans inhabiting the islands.

Sonic Frontiers features a narrative a lot like the ones we’ve seen in previous entries in the franchise, which is to say it’s pretty basic.

Now as far as the setting goes, Starfall Islands is a massive open area with a solid lot to see and do. The whole map is broken down into different regions which are wildly distinct from each other, such as forests and deserts. Players can roam around the world as Sonic, dashing through obstacles and end platforms at lightning-fast speeds while collecting rings and finding other hidden collectibles.

A thing worth noting is that while the game is technically an open-world game, it is not as simple as it sounds. For those who are avid fans of the Sonic franchise, it should come as no surprise that items such as springs and rings are being used in this game to propel you in one specific direction, where the game wants them to go. So it would be more appropriate to say that the title has multiple branching linear paths in its open-world levels. 

Gameplay

sonic frontiers review
The Gameplay. (Image by eXputer)

The game revolves around visiting the different Starfall Islands in an effort to save Sonic’s companions, and as such, each location has its own boss that you will have to defeat before you’re allowed to progress to the next island. This is where the game and level design come into play because while the islands themselves are technically open worlds, progression to the next island is always barred by some objectives.

And while Sonic saves his friends, he will also be collecting the different Chaos Emeralds. They can be obtained after clearing certain cyber world levels, which are where the gameplay truly shines. These levels feature the classic platforming and ring collecting that Sonic games are known for, as your race through checkpoints and perform wild feats of speed and agility.

Sonic Frontiers also features combat, and as expected it’s okay, but not the true focus of the game.

Sonic Frontiers also features combat, and as expected it’s okay, but not the true focus of the game. To start with, Sonic can only perform a couple of simple attacks and can also evade and parry attacks. But as the players progress through the skill tree, more moves become available to them. Most of these skills open up further options during combat, such as the ability to make loops around your foes and launch them into the air.

The game also has a decent variety of enemies, from standard mobs all the way to more unique bosses and mini-bosses. A lot of these regular enemies can be quite easy to deal with even during the latter stages of the game, and the only real challenge you have to face is when they come at you in numbers.

Boss battles can be fun since these fights have a little more substance to them and feel a bit more consequential, but otherwise, the combat just feels like a frenzy of button-mashing.

There are some other collectibles in the game as well such as Kocos and gears. These are used to upgrade Sonic’s stats or unlock the cyber world stages for Chaos Emeralds respectively, but the experience of collecting these for upgrades can quickly start to weigh the players down. But the game incentivizes you to roam around the islands just to gather some objects, and often times your progress is barred until you find them.

Visuals And Performance

sonic frontiers review
The Visuals.(Image by eXputer)

The jump from 2D to 3D has always been controversial for a series like Sonic, and to be honest, Frontiers does not look like a game that was released in 2022. It has janky animations and it feels as if the characters are skipping frames of animation while moving. The stylistic choices that the art direction team has gone ahead with do not suit most of the levels as well, and apart from a few, most of the levels look out of place and even unappealing.

The textures in the game are not up to par either, they feel unpolished just like the assets present on the islands. There is also the issue of objects popping into the frame as you move toward them, and I have never seen this particular issue be this bad in a game ever before.

The textures in the game are not up to par either, they feel unpolished just like the assets present on the islands.

It gives off the impression that the Frontiers is unfinished, and was quite possibly rushed despite its long incubation time. There are also some camera issues in cases where there is a lot of enemy density since it fails to focus on Sonic and the screen just looks like a mess.

Despite these things, the soundtrack in the game is an absolute banger. Most of the tracks, if not all, give off that nostalgic 90s vibe and fit the game really well. The sound direction was on the spot for a game like this, and it’s the only thing I cannot complain about.

Verdict

sonic frontiers review
Verdict. (Image by eXputer)

Sonic Frontiers is a huge leap for the Sonic franchise. It is, without a doubt, the best 3D game in the series to date, but that doesn’t mean that it is a perfect game. There are still many improvements to be made to the formula.

The combat in the game feels repetitive and the progression through the levels can start to be a drag. As far as the structure is concerned, the game is essentially a glorified collection, with most core actions in the game being gated by a certain collectible item or currency.

The game is everything fans of the franchise have been asking for from a 3D sonic title, but it is hard to glance past the flaws if you are not a diehard fan of the franchise. The game had the potential to be something better but unfortunately, that was unable to be realized.

This has been my Sonic Frontiers Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.

This is box title
Get This Game
If you’re expecting a good 3D implementation of Sonic.
Dont Get This Game
If you’re not a fan of the Sonic franchise.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Perhaps, on one hand, this is everything Sonic fans wants, but the jankness can really feel off-putting to newcomers of the franchise.
Alternative Games
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Mega Man X
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Ori and the Blind Forest
  • Neon White
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Huzaifa is eXputer's Review Editor, who’s all about RPG games. He’s got several years of experience critically judging games and writing his unbiased thoughts on them. You can also find his content published on sites like Twinfinite & GearNuke. Huzaifa has been gaming for 23+ years, during which he managed to amass 400+ hours on Elden Ring! You can follow his gaming activity on his Xbox and Steam Profiles.

Experience: 5+ years || Previously Worked At GearNuke & Twinfinite || Mainly Covers RPG Guides & Latest Games Reviews || Education: Bachelors in Hospitality.

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