We made it to the end of 2022, so with that in mind, we’re celebrating some of the best games released in the last 12 months. Today is the turn of a game that may not be perfect, but it still has a lot to love: Sonic Frontiers.
Look, I’m the first to admit that my impression of Sonic Frontiers when the first IGN gameplay trailer was released was negative. Something about the gameplay didn’t click and looking back, and I’m unsure if I can say what the problem is. The slower pace didn’t even get close to the boost button, or maybe the graphics weren’t refined enough.
Regardless, the final product somehow brought it together to become one of the more enjoyable releases of 2022. Sonic Frontiers is far from flawless, don’t get me wrong. The object pop-in on the Xbox Series X is downright ridiculous. The RPG Lite mechanics are broken, especially if you spend about half an hour earning the necessary items to progress or level up. The physics in the open world can be ridiculously inconsistent. Sometimes you can run up a steep hill, and sometimes Sonic will end up sliding like the cha-cha.
Despite all these problems, Sonic Frontiers is the best the 3D branch of the series has been for a long time. Sonic Mania is still untouchable, don’t worry. Exploring the open world feels like what the Sonic franchise has been envisioning for a long time, so you can zoom across the map and take advantage of Sonic’s main feature for once: his speed. Yes, it could keep the player stuck with excessive grind rails and boost pads, but it’s still incredibly fun to just walk around this world.
Without even becoming a Sonic nerd, the character development and relationship building in the story is a cut above many Sonic games that existed before. We see who characters like Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and even Eggman are outside of their relationship with Sonic, which makes the entire cast feel a little more sophisticated than just Sonic and friends/enemy. We also see how the history of Frontiers takes its toll on Sonic, which certainly means more growth than what was shown in Sonic Forces. He spends six months in prison in the Armed Forces, but immediately breaks out and begins to crack wisely? It did not sell the stakes of the entire game. Frontiers is at least one step further.
If anything, that’s why Frontiers works so well for me. Sure, it might be a shameless Breath of the Wild clone in terms of formula, but then you follow the story and get to the massive boss fights, and it becomes clear that Sonic Frontiers is just an anime in game form. It’s about big, overpowering fights and the power of friendship, with the boss fights in particular feeling like a hedgehog version of Asura’s wrath.
These similarities explain why the reaction of Sonic Frontiers was so mixed by many people since Asura’s wrath was playing Marmite. However, I love it, so it’s no surprise that Sonic Frontiers also happened to be one of my favorite games of 2022. Could it be improved? Sure, but we Sonic fans are always waiting for the next game anyway to make things better.
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