Experience Sonic Like Never Before in the Epic Open-World Game, Sonic Frontiers

Sonic Frontier’s new gameplay updates, strong writing, and a brand new character usher it into the new era of Sonic games.


Sonic Frontiers Cover Image

Johnny Chirayil, Social Media Editor

Sonic games have had an inconsistent formula over the years. Whether you’re playing adventure-style, boost-style, storybook-style, or games with their own unique gameplay style, there is no standard on how a traditional Sonic game should play. This situation causes polarizing opinions among fans on what they expect from a Sonic game. 

The separate gameplay styles are not the only problem. 

Fans were also frantic about the tone shift for the story-writing since SEGA hired new writers, Ken Pontac and Warren Graff in 2010. Thanks to them, several Sonic fans can see how downhill the story-writing went for the recent titles. For instance, “Sonic Colors” takes a more kid-friendly approach. The dialogue was bland, Sonic was out of character, and don’t get me started with the childish jokes they used. From that point on, games such as “Sonic Generations,” “Sonic Lost World” and “Sonic Forces” have gotten more juvenile and lack a lot of substance compared to older titles from the early 2000s. 

Three years after Pontac and Graff got hired, Pontac revealed in a TSSZ interview that he knows nothing of Sonic the Hedgehog’s history and admits that he just “went to Wikipedia and watched some cutscenes.” It shows SEGA made an unprofessional decision by not considering whether the new writers knew much about Sonic. After “Sonic Forces” failed in 2017, Pontac and Graff were relieved from writing for the Sonic series, and fans are more hopeful about how the next Sonic game will perform. 

In the middle of 2021, a new Sonic game was teased by IGN, “Sonic Frontiers.” However, it wasn’t until 2022 that we officially got a first impression of the game’s appearance. When IGN released the World Premiere Gameplay video, fans commented that it looked like a rushed tech demo and that there wasn’t much going on during the gameplay, but that’s only the beginning.

As time passed, SEGA revealed more, such as how the combat system would work and how the story would be told. They also introduced a new gameplay mode called “Cyberspace,” where Sonic can travel into different portals throughout the open zone and have fans play the traditional boost levels from previous Sonic games. These new additions made fans excited to try gameplay features they had never used before.

What excited fans more is that Ian Flynn, the chief writer of the Sonic Archie comics, would write the story for Sonic Frontiers. This guaranteed Sonic Frontiers would have an intriguing story since many fans love the stories from the Archie comics. Fans were begging that SEGA would have Flynn write the stories for future Sonic games so the franchise could return to its former glory.

Now let’s cut to the chase. What makes “Sonic Frontiers” the ultimate Sonic adventure? 

As mentioned earlier, the game provides a vast open-world gameplay mechanic that sets the player to explore different areas of the island. You have four islands to travel to: Kronos Island is the first. Ares Island is the second. Chaos Island is the third. Rhea Island is the fourth. Ouranos Island is the fifth and final island. As you venture through each island, it’s up to Sonic to face multiple challenges and enemies to save all his friends, Tails, Knuckles and Amy, who have been captured in Cyberspace.

You will find yourself fighting mechanical monsters big and small. You will have to battle the bigger enemies as mini-boss fights since they will take longer to beat than the smaller enemies. The player must do this to progress throughout the campaign. You will need to collect memory tokens to save your friends, portal gears to access the Cyberspace world and vault keys to unlock Chaos Emerald vaults so you can battle the real threat of the islands – the Titans. 

The Titan boss fights are a fan favorite. The moment you transform into Super Sonic after collecting all the Chaos Emeralds gives you the feeling that it is go-time. Each Titan boss has a lyrical heavy-metal track playing in the background, which really builds up the energy and intensity you will feel when fighting the giant mechanical monster. The boss fights can be challenging at first, so be sure to follow the pattern. You can also level up Sonic’s combat and defense so you can defeat the Titan quickly. Collecting as many rings as needed would be best since Sonic’s rings will deplete when he’s in his super form.

Most Super Sonic fights simply have you dash into the enemy during each hit, but Sonic Frontiers takes Super Sonic to a new level, thanks to the expansive combat system. Now Sonic can perform multiple moves as he takes down the Titan. You can also perform the same actions in Sonic’s standard form when fighting other enemies on the island. You will unlock new moves as you collect skill points from the island, allowing you to perform various combos as you take down an enemy. 

Aside from the open-world gameplay, you can also access the Cyberspace levels where Sonic must race from start to finish. These levels play similarly to other Sonic titles, where you boost throughout the stage at high speed. I’m glad SEGA included this, so it still feels like we’re playing a traditional Sonic game. The Cyberspace levels offer different challenges, such as beating the level as quickly as possible, finding all the red rings, and collecting a certain number of regular rings. As you complete each challenge, you will be rewarded with a vault key. 

You won’t likely earn all these achievements in one attempt, but that’s what gives the Cyberspace levels good replay value. When you receive a rank below S, you get the feeling you can do better and beat the level faster once you familiarize yourself with the proper strategy. 

Overall, the gameplay is enjoyable, and I love exploring each island and fighting various enemies while I progress throughout the campaign. I also love the high-speed action of the Cyberchase levels. It brings back nostalgia from playing other games like “Sonic Unleased” and “Sonic Generations.” 

The story is a substantial step-up now that Sonic is tackling a more serious setting rather than being overly comedic and child-friendly. A new character, Sage, was added to set the serious tone because of her inability to sympathize with others. She is an AI created by Dr. Eggman to help protect him from whatever threats he may face as he hacks into the island’s data.

Sage has a timid personality, and she does whatever she can to stop Sonic from creating any danger while Sonic saves his friends. Sage eventually warms up to Sonic after seeing Sonic will do whatever it takes to save his friends from any situation. She also gets emotional after seeing Sonic and Tails’ strong bond with each other and realizes Sonic isn’t as threatening as he seems. 

At the end of the game, Sonic and Sage team up to defeat the final boss, The End, which has been manipulating Sonic to release it from Cyberspace so The End can destroy countless worlds. 

Spoiler alert! The final boss is just a “Galaga” level, similar to hacking missions you must complete to unlock new paths on the island. You can only unlock this level if you play the game in hard mode. Otherwise, the final boss will have you perform three quick-time events. After defeating the boss, Sage sacrifices herself to prevent the explosion, and Sonic’s friends are freed from Cyberspace, resulting in a sad but satisfying ending. 

Sonic reunites with Tails, Knuckles and Amy, and they all leave the island peacefully. As for Eggman, he has grown so attached to Sage that he returns to his computer and manages to revive her, at least digitally. I love how Eggman felt more human, rather than being a casual villain, since he formed a genuine bond with Sage, treating her like an actual daughter. He did also ally with Sonic to help take down The End. Eggman may return to his criminal ways in the next Sonic installment despite these events. 

After playing the game and beating its campaign, it is a phenomenal experience, especially for those who love open-world games. I had fun battling the enemies, solving the puzzles, and exploring the vast space of the islands. The game’s tone has shifted in the right direction with its well-written story and handles all the characters correctly, all thanks to Flynn. Thanks to the success of Sonic Frontiers, the iconic blue blur can return to its faithful roots for both the creators and the fans.