by Saef in
Game Story

This review was written after completing Sonic Frontiers on 100% with all Steam achievements unlocked. It took 30 hours of author. Please, have in mind, that this review contains spoilers, but only in chapter 4.D (“Final bosses on islands”), on chapter 5 (“Story”, of course it will have spoilers), and on chapter 6 (“Ending of the game”. Who would’ve thought). Review is made on PC version of the game; Switch version’s issues won’t be mentioned.

1. General word and story of the series

It seems to me that before we evaluate Sonic Frontiers and consider it as a game, we need to delve into the history of the Sonic series and understand the circumstances under which and why this game was created. After all, games are art, and any art is learned in context (Leonardo’s paintings would hardly be popular if he painted them today, just as Kafka’s works wouldn’t become legendary if we didn’t know the biography of their author). It goes without saying that those who regularly follow the series can skip this chapter, but if you come here by chance, I strongly recommend you to read it, because Sonic Frontiers is a game of its time, its moment and its series and it will be difficult to compare it with other games, even with such similar ones as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Sonic Frontiers launch trailer. It contains spoilers (at least i would define these spoilers so better don’t watch if unfamiliar with the game)

It is important to understand that the Sonic series is a failure in many ways. It all started with a very successful entry into the 2D platformer market in 1991, continued with a steady march on Sega consoles throughout the late nineties, later the transition to 3D with Sonic Adventure and the extremely successful Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes. Later, however, around 2005, the series went downhill. Shadow the Hedgehog, released in 2005, even though it was a spin-off, was very poorly received. However, this was only a harbinger of disaster.

I don’t think Shadow the Hedgehog was THAT bad, but definitely not the best instalment of series

In 2006, legend comes out, a game that is often cited for Sega politics, the Japanese style of making bad games, the problem of team and time management in the gaming industry, and everything bad about video games. Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 came out. The game was so awful that even now it is remembered as one of the biggest failures of the seventh generation of consoles.

No commentaries needed

Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 created a stereotype around the series, the stereotype that there are no good Sonic games. Thus, the relatively high-quality Sonic Unleashed, released in 2008, was received coldly and was often viewed by game journalism in the context of its failed predecessor. This caused a cardinal change of direction in the series, and Sonic Generations, which was released in 2011, showed players an extremely weak story, linear, short and easy stages, degenerate character-development and a general indifferent attitude towards the game. At that time, the fanbase and players treated the game with warmth, but even then you could see what the series will become in the future.

In 10 seconds name at least 3 differences between Generations and Forces. Can’t? I guess something was overrated, don’t you think?

In 2013, Sonic Lost World was released, which was a copy of one of the Mario games and demonstrated the complete castration of Sonic Team’s ideas. The game had nothing of its own, only taking from its direct platform competitor. What’s worse, the completely unbearable style, the idiotic plot, the absolutely negligible character work ruined this game in the eyes of most people. At this point, Sega and Sonic Team promised to fix themselves in the next big game, but all they did was release disaster again. Sonic Forces, which appeared in 2017, filled with unfulfilled promises, was the biggest disappointment of many fans’ lives. Lasting 3 hours, virtually devoid of gameplay, and continuing the idiocy of the characters, this game pretty much put an end to any hopes fans had of seeing a proper Sonic game. It’s important to realize that in the state of the series that Sega and Sonic Team put it in, most fans no longer expected ANYTHING from a new Sonic game.

One of the biggest disappointments in my life

That is why it is important to understand that fans will not evaluate this game in the context of standard game metrics. This is why Sonic Frontiers is difficult to compare to NORMAL games. Because the Sonic the Hedgehog series hasn’t had a normal game in about 20 years. Therefore, the release of Sonic Frontiers was an extremely pleasant surprise for all fans, because even being mediocre within the whole game industry, it became one of the most quality products in the series since its existence.

I am a fan of the series, so I will consider it in the context of the series. I’m afraid that this will make my assessment a little less objective, because if you look at things sensibly, comparing the game to other open-world games, Sonic Frontiers is mediocre. In the context of the series, however, it is extremely high quality, and that’s what I want to emphasize, because I want more games of AT LEAST this quality, so I will give it a mostly positive review.

2. Technical state and visual

In technical aspect, the game is not done in the best way. Everything is hindered by the extremely small drawing range and the low quality of the environment.

The game is made on the same engine as Sonic Forces, so the entire core of the game was taken from there. Except that Sonic Forces was a very linear game with small locations, and everything in it was adapted for LINEAR. SMALL. locations. So how did they modify the Sonic Forces engine to the huge open areas of Sonic Frontiers?

Yeah… Sonic Forces is QUITE linear

Nohow. They just moved it, leaving a drawing range of 10 meters and wooden physics. Do I even need to say how bad it is when platforms are drawn 10 meters away from Sonic? Sonic is a superspeed creature, hurtling around the location at incredible speeds. Is it even okay to have springs and speed panels appear right in front of his nose, taking you away to another part of the location, or traps taking away your rings? But that’s not the worst.

Imagine that you are looking for collectibles. They are marked on the map, and you see them exactly at a specific point. You look up and see the item you are looking for, but it is just hanging in the air. How do you get to it, you ask? Well, you have to find a spring or a rail that will take you to the right platform. That’s right, PLATFORM. “But we haven’t seen any platform. And we haven’t seen any springs…” – you say. “Exactly. That’s right, damn it…” I’ll tell you. That’s exactly what you’ll get in about 30 percent of the Frontiers’ gameplay – aimlessly running around looking for a spring that appears about 10 meters away.

Beautiful drawing distance

Sounds boring? Of course. But get used to it, because Starfall Islands should have been called “Islands of Boredom”, because all you’ll see in the whole game are gray-green clear meadows, sometimes with rivers and lava (sometimes with sand) at an extremely low drawing range and with a very meditative soundtrack.

Nothing induces sleep like Sonic Frontiers’ open locations. Meditative gameplay, dull gathering, monotonous violin compositions, and an almost complete lack of scenery in the locations. Often you will be greeted by blank meadows – no rocks, no trees, no buildings. The appearance of the local platforms will bore you by the middle of the game, because it’s always the same black platforms with green veins. The game is woefully short on scenery – trees, rocks, buildings. It often feels empty. The most beautiful game looks when you find scenery-filled places – an oasis in the desert, a small forest in the middle of a meadow, or a huge crater in the middle of an icy mountain. The rest of the time, however, the game feels empty and as if it were unfilled.

Collectibles map for one of the islands. Enjoy your 3 hours of boredom!

Speaking of graphics. Visually, the game looks like it’s from 2007. In the game itself it is not so noticeable, because from afar the textures look good quality, day and night changes and weather effects look nice, etc. But as soon as the game starts a cutscene (and Sonic Frontiers has a lot of them), it immediately becomes painful to look at the game. The textures are highly polygonal, but they’re just stretched on top of the geometry – they feel unreal, empty, unfilled. The character models, unchanged from Sonic Forces, seem out of place among Sonic Frontiers’ graphics, Sonic’s eyes sometimes don’t catch the light well and are overlit, the rain and water effects look flat, and the color palette in the first hours of play, without joking, made me feel asociations with Silent Hill. Is such an association good in the context of a Sonic game? It’s up to you to decide.

Nice flat grass, nice Ctrl+C – Ctrl+V rain particles, nice reflection in Sonic’s eyes, what a beautiful way to meet a new game

However, I want to note that despite the general poor quality of the picture, Sonic Frontiers has a very expressive style, which compensates for its shortcomings. However, I’ll talk about style in Chapter 3.A (“Style”).

3. Music and style

3.A) Style

The game has an extremely expressive, depressive, melancholic mood and takes very interesting sources of inspiration in its style and design. Perhaps the most correct example within the series would be Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, which had a similar mood, the only difference being that Sonic 2006 placed more emphasis on a sense of epicness and impending tragedy, while Sonic Frontiers is much more meditative and systematically melancholic, filled with an anxious peace and a sense of detachment.

A picture from Sonic 2006. Reminds you of something?

It is probably correct to draw a parallel with Shadow of the Colossus, which had a similar mood. In general, Sonic Frontiers and Shadow of the Colossus are connected by a lot of things, because Sonic Team was obviously inspired by this game, creating Titans enemies and open locations. In terms of mood, these games are also quite similar.

Parallels are quite obvious

Sonic Frontiers creates its atmosphere with the help of the gray-green color scheme, unchanged almost throughout the game, the melancholic soundtrack (about ost in separate part) and the nature of the dialogues with the characters.

Thus, the color scheme in the game retains the same gray-green hues even when the action changes to a desert or a volcano. Of course, the desert adds yellow and red, the volcano black, red and, suddenly, blue, but the main color palette retains its grayish hues. The weather often changes to rain and fog, and night in Sonic Frontiers is more black than purple. Simply put, everything about the open-world design is meditative and melancholic – its scheme, its deliberate incompleteness (due to the story), its seeming emptiness.

Even desert seems more gray than yellow

Here and there, platforms and rails hang in the sky all over the world. These seem extremely inappropriate, and at first glance, may seem like something bad, detrimental to the style of the game. However, it is important to understand the context – Starfall Islands are on the edge of the real world and Cyberspace, which leads to the fact that fragments of another world arise on the islands themselves. For this reason, irrelevant platforms appearing out of nowhere only play to the game’s style advantage, because they emphasize the chaotic nature of the islands.

Flying noodles in the sky

The dialogues with the characters are filled with meaning and sadness. Often, the characters talk about serious topics, what’s troubling them, what they’re feeling. Sonic often tries to support them, but they walk away from the conversation. If it comes to Sonic himself, he guffaws and walks away from the conversation as well. It seems as if the characters are trying to say something, but they fail, which adds to the sense of unease and melancholy. The presentation of the story itself, its themes, and the questions for the player are in keeping with the mood of the game.

Even just by looking at the static image you can catch the mood

However, the stages in Cyberspace are much more reminiscent of the mood of Sonic Forces – dynamic, but short stages in a bright palette with clearly evening tones with music in the style of Geometry Dash, Dubsteb, Dynamic Synthwave and other electronics, often even with an unobtrusive lyric. These stages exude energy and speed, however, they end quickly.

Bright and energetic Cyberspace stages are going in heavy contrast with atmosphere of open world. Which is not bad at all

It is interesting to discuss the Sonic Team’s inspirations for the creation of Sonic Frontiers. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Shadow of the Colossus have already been mentioned, but it’s also worth mentioning that Sonic Team seems to have been inspired by Xenoblade Chronicles when creating the Titans design, and Evangelion was clearly and inspiration when creating enemies. These are quite unusual sources of inspiration, because rather unrelated to what we are used to seeing in Sonic, but they are united by the fact that they are purely “Japanese”. Sonic Frontiers feels as well as a very “Japanese” game.

Even the sound of one of the enemies in game (Tower) is very alike to the sound produced by one of the Angles in Evangelion

Thus, the style and mood of Sonic Frontiers play an extremely important role in the game experience, and, in my opinion, somewhat justify the overall poor picture quality, because I believe that style is much more important than technology, and Sonic Frontiers shows itself well in matters of style. The clash of realistic locations and cartoonish enemies and characters only emphasizes the special state of islands on the edge of worlds, and the same can be said about the emerging platforms.

3.B) Music

The music in the game can be divided into three categories:

A) Quiet, relaxing music in the open world, mainly composed of simple violin and piano motifs that bring sadness and melancholy.

B) Music during combat and stages in Cyberspace, built entirely on dynamic dance electronics with an extremely fast rhythm, which is a typical soundtrack of the Sonic games – dynamic, driving and paced.

C) The vocal themes of the final bosses of the islands is heavy rock with soft vocals, reminiscent of the main vocal themes from the previous Sonic games, but much heavier, much harder and much more dynamic. And with far less meaningful lyrics.

About the first two categories, I’ve probably already said enough – they work perfectly in the context of the mood and style of the game and, of course, they are extremely well done (is it even worth mentioning, Sonic Team only work with the best musicians). However, I have a lot to say about the heavy rock vocal themes.

They are undeniably driving and attempt to combine orchestral and rock elements in an interesting way (I’m Here is probably the best example of this technique). However, in my opinion, none of these compositions are up to the level of the vocal themes of the other Sonic games. There are two reasons for this, in my opinion:

1) The lyrics are meaningless and trivial. Just read the lyrics to the song Undefeatable and explain to me what mood the lyrics are supposed to put me in? What is this song about? As it happens in the Sonic series, the vocal compositions have always made sense – Open Your Heart was a manifesto against closure and revenge, Live and Learn a motivational ballad about overcoming a heavy loss, With Me a philosophical monologue about the mortality of things, and so on. Almost all of the vocal compositions had a meaning, a mood, an idea. Yes, Sonic Lost World had no decent vocal composition at all, and Fist Bump from Sonic Forces was extremely mediocre. Except that Sonic Lost World basically ignored all the canons of the series, while Sonic Forces, in contrast to Fist Bump, had a very high quality and expressive Infinite, which fully covers the need for a good vocal composition.

2) The melody is often broken. A great example of this is I’m Here, which sounds extremely cool and driving at first, but then it throws the whole pace down the toilet when chorus starts. I understand, it’s a matter of taste, I understand the conventions of heavy rock as a genre, but for some reason I didn’t have such problems with the vocal compositions of the previous parts of series, even though it presented heavy rock many times already, With Me coming on my mind immediately.

What an awesome start and what a fall on chorus. At least for my taste

Neither Undefeatable, Breaking Through It All, Find Your Flame, nor I’m Here seemed to me really worthwhile as true Sonic vocal compositions. I don’t want it to seem like I’m berating these songs, as they are extremely driving, high quality and fit their bossfights. However, I don’t consider it a worthy substitute for the vocal compositions of previous installments in the series.

4. Gameplay

4.A) Basics, movement and physics

The game has completely retained the gameplay core from Sonic Forces – and therefore the extreme clumsiness of Sonic and his slow speed (on the stages of Cyberspace in general it seems that even I would run faster). Jumping became a real torture in Sonic Frontiers – not only is it almost impossible to turn the character in the jump, but the Air Dash also became extremely short. On the one hand, this is a necessary nerf, because Sonic is supposed to run, not fly. On the other hand, you simply do not want to jump in this game at all – jumps are slow, poorly controlled, kill inertia and just feel very heavy. Such are the conventions of the Sonic Forces engine – poor and unresponsive controls.

Just look at this pathetic jump. You really don’t want to get from the ground in Sonic Frontiers

The physics goes the same way. Inertia does not exist in Sonic Frontiers, nor does the normal gradual acceleration of objects. Sonic behaves jerkily and inconsistently, completely unresponsive to his own acceleration, and feels extremely heavy.

Homing Attack is now only pointed when the camera is looking directly at the enemy. This was something normal in the linear stages of Sonic Forces (I didn’t even notice it at the time), but in the open spaces of Sonic Frontiers it’s unbearable. The camera often focuses on minibosses walking around the map, on elements of the location, and gets stuck in epic angles, which simply doesn’t allow you to aim at the enemy.

After the birdie attacks, camera locks in this moronic position not allowing me to Homing Attack the birdie

For some reason they made a limit of one Stomp during the jump. I still do not understand why, why was nerfing Stomp in such way? The problem is that it is not entirely clear what the game considers “landing” when it reloads Stomp and Air Dash. That is, landing on the rail counts as a landing? Yes. Does using rainbow rings count as a landing? No. Does landing on a spring count as a landing? Yes, but not on any spring. This is where the problems begin, because the platforming in Sonic Frontiers is entirely based on interacting with objects with Homing Attack, and each of these objects interacts differently with Stomp and Air Dash.

Wallrunning is a nightmare. After 30 hours of play, I still can’t figure out what principle Sonic uses to choose his running direction. I can keep my stick to the right, but Sonic will stubbornly run downward. Sometimes you can fix this problem by putting the camera directly perpendicular to the wall, but the damn game sometimes fixes the camera in a certain angle, which makes running on the wall a torture.

I. Cannot. Control.

In general, the control base in Sonic Frontiers is extremely clumsy, awkward, unresponsive and simply unsatisfying. It was the same in Sonic Forces, unfortunately.

4.B) Starfall Islands

B.1 Activities, exploring

There are the following types of activities in the open world:

1) Minigames.

2) Collecting character memory tokens.

3) Dialogs with the character.

4) Battles with minibosses (in part B.2).

5) Completing stages in Cyberspace (in part C).

6) Collecting Chaos Emeralds.

7) Sonic’s levelling (in part B.3).

8) Fishing with Big.

9) A unique event called “Starfall”.

Once in the open location, you first need to open the map to solve the problem of total blindness. To do this, you need to find a place with a question mark on the location, and then pass the minigame. There are quite a few mini-games, but they are all very simple. Some require you to run to a certain place in time, some are small reaction tests, some are simple puzzles, and some will require you to do some damage to a punching bag. Sounds like fun, but there are about a hundred of these question marks in all in the game, and the minigames are often repetitive. VERY often they are repetitive. At a certain point they start to get legitimately boring, though overall they are quite inventive.

The very first minigame in Sonic Frontiers. Sadly, no, it won’t become much more difficult than that

When you open the map, you will immediately see that it is filled with hearts, medals, or wrenches. These are memory tokens of the location’s character (in the first location it will be Amy Rose, for example), and must be collected to gain access to story progression and additional character dialogues. The extra dialogues are randomly placed on the map and, in principle, provide nothing but rather curious elements of the lore and story. Often, it takes more than 200 of these memory tokens to open dialogues or events, which is quite a lot, and collecting gets boring very quickly, especially considering how this collecting will become complicated by the range of the game’s drawing objects. This is by far the dullest and most annoying element of the game. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to collect all memory tokens for 100% progression, you’ll get 100% without it. Do not make my mistake.

To talk with a character you need to throw something at them. Sonic throwing hearts in Amy looks… interesting

Also, on the map there are enemies, for defeating which you get experience to level up your character, as well as minibosses, for defeating which you get gears. These same gears must be inserted into the portals, which will let you into the stages in Cyberspace (usually there are 7 portals per island, but there are an exception). For completing the stages in Cyberspace, you’ll receive keys that will give you access to the Chaos Emeralds. The Emeralds themselves are located in the most hidden and inaccessible parts of the islands, but once you find them, they will not offer you any stages or mini-games – give the keys and take them. Usually there are 4 Emeralds per island and 2 obtained by story (again, with an exception).

Great. Now Chaos Emeralds can change size as well

Also on the island there are unique portals that lead to Cyberspace, but not to the usual speed stage, but to a minigame of fishing. In such a portal you meet Big the Cat, who offers you his fishing rod in exchange for purple coins scattered here and there in the open world. The bigger and more unique the fish you catch, the more tokens and gold tickets you get, with which you can later buy resources to level up Sonic, rings, memory tokens, gears, keys, as well as Eggman logs that unlock some elements of the Sonic Frontiers lore. The fishing minigame itself is extremely simple and unobtrusive, although it does take a lot of time. Personally, I ate quietly while playing this minigame. A great way to relax and grind (condolences to grind haters).

Very basic and simple minigame, good for chilling. Or raging if you’re new to Japanese grind-games

Also, sometimes every 20 nights or so (it feels like it) a special event called “Starfall” will happen. Starfall Islands will be hit by a meteor shower, which will cause all the enemies you defeated on the island to be reborn (for whatever reason). Throughout the night (about 4 minutes) you can collect meteorite shards, which will randomly give you a certain amount of purple coins for fishing minigame. In my opinion, an interesting minigame is a very cool conditioning revival of the enemies (this is clearly better than if they just respawned out of thin air as soon as you moved 20 meters away from the place where you just defeated them). Although, in my opinion, this minigame gives too many purple coins, because after two of these minigames I already had enough purple coins to level up Sonic to the maximum.

Collecting meteors will start the roulette

In general, there are very few activities in the open world, and they are mostly dull. Fortunately, most of them are optional, but if you still like to dust the map like me, get ready for boredom and despondency.

B.2 Combat system, enemies

For the first time in a big Sonic game, we saw a comprehensive, functional combat system. Usually, in Sonic games Sonic himself had only Boost and Homing Attack to defeat enemies, while the enemies themselves were destroyed with a single strike, thus Sonic was always more of a platformer than a beat-em-up. Sonic Frontiers has changed this formula, while retaining elements of the classic 3D platformer series.

You can attack enemies in four ways – combo attacks, encircling enemies, ranged attacks and counterattacks. Ranged attacks and counterattacks are unlocked with the exp points, combos and encirclement are available almost from the start.

New Sonic’s technique. Quite stylish and fun one i need to admit

The combos are quite standard for such games – Sonic automatically strikes about 5 blows, after which you complete the combination by pressing one of the buttons. Also, you can make a special attack by pressing the button after the Air Dash. In general, the player has no reason to prefer one combination over the other, because, for the most part, they are equal in damage. However, the strong point of Sonic Frontiers is the variety of enemies, each of which needs its own approach and, often, some attacks will work better against a certain type of enemies.

Thus, there is an enemy that surrounds its core with a large number of spheres that are destroyed with a single hit. In order to penetrate the defense of these spheres, it is preferable to use combos that inflict multiple low-damage attacks. Some enemies, such as the wheel that will chase Sonic, are destroyed by surrounding them with Sonic’s new ability. Some will be too dangerous in close combat and are preferable to attack from a distance. Some will limit your movement, so it is advisable not to use combinations with a wide run-up, etc. Due to the huge variety of enemies, each combination finds its own use, which is undoubtedly very cool.

Against this enemy range combo works very well

It’s not for nothing that I said that enemies are one of the strongest sides of Sonic Frontiers. Each of the enemies (I want to note, not just the minibosses) is a mini-game of wit or reaction, each one must be approached in a unique way. Given the huge variety of enemies, it’s really very exciting and driving.

However, over time, battles with the same types of enemies become tiresome, but fortunately, in Sonic Frontiers you can easily escape from 90% of the enemies without getting into another fight.

This miniboss launches Sonic high in the air, thus activating a falling minigame

Another problem is the poor integration of combos into the platforming. To give you an example, imagine that you’re going through a difficult platforming moment, and you need to make an Air Dash and immediately after the Air Dash you need to do Homing Attack. Except instead of Homing Attack, Sonic does a special attack, exactly what you activate by pressing Homing Attack right after Air Dash. Needless to say, as soon as the attack is complete, Sonic crashes into the abyss with no way to escape. To the game’s credit, in 30 hours this happened to me about 4 times. That’s a lot less than you’d expect from such mechanics.

On this footage it happened twice in a row, though i was lucky that i didn’t have a pit under myself

Absolutely nightmarish, however, the game implements counterattack. That is, in order to counterattack, all you have to do is hold buttons – the game doesn’t even require you to time it. Because of this, you become virtually invulnerable, because you can block almost every attack without putting any effort into it. What’s worse, this completely imbalanced counter completely devalues your other defenses of evasion and speed, turning Sonic from a fast mobile fighter into a magic sphere-shooting invulnerable cheater.

This looks absolutely imbalanced

To summarize, Sonic Frontiers’ combat system is pretty solid, self-sufficient, and enjoyable, and what more could you want from a combat system? In my opinion, the combat system is probably one of the strongest points of Sonic Frontiers.

B.3 Levelling system

I’ll go straight to the trump card, the levelling in Sonic Frontiers is nonsensical and disgusting. There are two forms of progression in the game – ability progression using experience points, and stats progression using attack and defense seeds, as well as Koco.

Gaining experience points in the game is incredibly easy, because they are knocked out of any enemies, as well as in tricks (Sonic can do tricks by flying in the air, the more tricks he makes, the more experience he gets). As a result, by the middle of the game Sonic has all the skills unlocked and experience points as a resource completely lose their meaning, and with them almost any interaction with the enemies, and, of course, the whole system of tricks. That said, the abilities themselves aren’t exactly useful. They usually unlock new combos, but as I mentioned, you mostly have no reason to prefer one combo over another. The exceptions are the really strong ranged attacks that do outrageous damage, and the completely garbage ability that automatically applies combos but lowers your damage. Thus, not only do experience points become garbage by the middle of the game, the abilities themselves are not that useful.

Who the hell will be playing with such skill?

Stats, on the other hand, are living hell to level up. There are 4 stats in the game – Attack and Defense, increasing Sonic’s damage and the number of rings that he loses when he gets damage, Speed, as well as the maximum number of Rings. To level up Attack and Defense you need to bring Koco-Hermit special Attack and Defense seeds which you can knock out of enemies or get them in the mini-games. To level up Speed and Rings you need to collect Koco – creatures similar to Chao – all over the islands, then bring them to Koco-Elder, who will offer you a choice of what to level up, Speed or Rings.

They don’t look like seeds at all

Well, the problems start with the fact that the number of seeds and Koco you need to level up is ridiculous. Even picking up everything you manage to find, defeating every enemy and solving all the puzzles you, at best, by the end of the game will get 50 out of 99 levels 3 stats, the fourth one you can forget about at all (I’ll tell you why later). However, there’s only one decent way to forage for seeds and Koco in the game – you can buy them from Big for the tokens you get during fishing. Thus, in order to level up Sonic you need to sit with a fishing rod for about an hour and fall asleep staring at the water. And that’s the least of your problems.

Big sells Kocos to Sonic, and Sonic sells Kocos to Elder Koco… can this be considered as super clever meta-commentary on slavery?

The real problems start when you find out HOW you’re levelling up your character. With Koco-Hermit it’s relatively easy – you bring him seeds and he gives you the amount of Attack and Defense points depending on how many seeds you have. Koco-Elder, on the other hand, is a bit of an asshole.

You see, Sonic Team felt it was important to give the player a choice of whether to level up for Koco – Speed or Rings. So Koco-Elder will ask you which of these two to level up. He’ll ask you for every point you level. As a reminder, both Speed and Rings must be levelled from 1 to 99. Do you see the problem?

YOU HAVE TO MANUALLY TELL THE STONE BASTARD 198 TIMES TO LEVEL YOU A CHARACTERISTIC. And as if out of spite, the dialog box in Sonic Frontiers has just incredibly long animation, between two levelled up points will pass about ten seconds of unskippable animation. This nonsense, in my game session, took about 50 minutes in total. I spent 50 minutes of my life begging the stone freak to level up my damn Speed and Rings so I could play the game properly.

Just look how long takes the animation for only one level up. And you need to do it 198 TIMES

It’s just unbelievable hell. And it gets even dumber when you realize that both Speed and Rings have practically no effect on the game. Any minigame can be played easily without any Speed upgrades, while the Rings stat is malicious at all.

Initially, your maximum number of rings is 400. As soon as you accumulate 400 rings, you get a large speed boost that lasts until the first damage you take. So, you level up your maximum number of Rings and it becomes, let’s say, 460. What do you see? What you see is that now you need 460 rings instead of 400 to get the speed boost. So by leveling the Rings you shot yourself in the knee.

You are getting speed boost once you have maximum amount of rings. So here’s the irony, the less maximum rings you have, the faster you aquire speed boost

In addition, the system of levelling up in the game completely breaks the balance, so, being as levelled as possible to the final, I beat the final boss with two combos. It’s a great way to enjoy a cool vocal composition, isn’t it?

To summarize, the developers from Sonic Team clearly do not understand why we need the levelling system in games in the first place. The two purposes of leveling up in games are to give the player freedom in choosing his playing style and to give the player a sense of progression. Except that neither of these is present in Sonic Frontiers. Not only the levelling process is flawed, but also there is absolutely no feeling of progression (for every stat you get such a tiny bonus, that you’ll never notice it in dynamics, unlocked combos have almost no effect on Sonic’s strength and just serve to entertainment and variant of fights), not mentioning the fact that it is absolutely impossible to choose your playing style in Sonic Frontiers. The only thing you can choose is the order in which combos are unlocked, and that makes no sense, because you’ll get them all before you blink anyway.

4.C) Cyberspace Stages

There isn’t much to say about the stages in Cyberspace – they are the same linear speed stages from Sonic Forces. They feel the same, have the same style and soundtrack, are just as easy and short, and Sonic is just as slow and clumsy. Perhaps the only difference is the absence of the overpowered Boost from Sonic Forces, which makes the stages in Cyberspace a bit more difficult and fun, because you can’t just fly through them. Overall, however, these stages feel extremely optional, though they are fun in places.

I heared many people had issues with 1-2. Honestly, can’t understand why. It get’s obvious pretty quickly you need to skip enemies and higher path, other is a matter of technique

The difference, however, which is very important to understand, between the stages in Sonic Forces and the stages in Cyberspace from Sonic Frontiers is that the stages in Cyberspace are a bonus game, a supplement to the main game. In Sonic Forces, however, the stages were the core gameplay.

It is important to add that there are only four zones in the game – Green Hill, Chemical Plant, Sky Sanctuary and Radical Highway. First of all, Green Hill makes me want to vomit when I see it. Second, there are 30 stages of Cyberspace in the game and only four zones? Seriously? The environment of these stages gets boring so fast that it just becomes unbearable at a certain point.

What’s more interesting, most stages completely duplicate the stages from the previous parts of the series, most often from Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Generations and bonus stages from Sonic Unleashed. Does this indicate the emasculation of ideas or Sonic Team still haven’t realized that they haven’t created anything original for 10 years in an attempt to catch up with nostalgia?

Yeah, this one super annoying stage from Unleashed is of course the one i feel nostalgia the most on, Sonic Team

Drawing a definite conclusion, stages in Cyberspace are extremely unnecessary, often annoying, but giving the game the right amount of dynamics, drive, and electronic music.

4.D) Final bosses on islands (SPOILERS!!!)

5. Story (Spoilers!!!)

6. Ending of the game (Spoilers!!!)

7. Conclusion

I am neutral about Sonic Frontiers. Not because it didn’t evoke emotions, no. It’s just that the emotions it evoked were so contradictory that I am unable to reconcile them to a common denominator.

The game pleased me with the fun combat system and pissed me off with the disgusting levelling system. On the Cyberspace stages, it delighted me with the music, but pissed me off with the repetition of stages and the dullness of the design. Happy with the style, but angry with the terrible quality of the graphics. Delighted with some of the final island bosses and disappointed with others. Made me happy with great characters’ representation that I love so much, but made me swear in rage with another rape of the series’ lore. And the ending was the cherry on the cake of uncertainty and incomprehension I got from this game.

Therefore, I will evaluate my experience from Sonic Frontiers as neutral, although I evaluated this game from the position of a fan of the series. For ordinary gamers, however, in my opinion, there is simply nothing to look for in Sonic Frontiers, because it doesn’t give you anything that other, better open-world games don’t give you.

Technical state and visual: 4/10
Music and style: 8/10
      Basics, movement and physics: 3/10
      Open world: 6/10
      Cyberspace stages: 6/10
      Final bosses on islands: 7/10
      Characters representation: 10/10
      Plot: 2/10
      Lore: 1/10

Overall experiece: 6/10 (don’t try to math, it’s not connected to average of others assessments)

Recommended to play ONLY to the fans of the series.

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