Sonic fans might get a bad impression of the craziest moments in the community, but honestly, being a Sonic fan can be a tough life. Sonic 2 was a big game for me when I was a kid, and so my adult life has largely been hyped up by Sonic games that look amazing but turn out to be terrible (hello, Sonic Unleashed). Sonic Team has been in the heartbreaking business for decades, but I can’t help but feel excited again.
The trailer makes this look like a dream Sonic game. The aesthetic is beautiful, green fields stretching into the distance and surrounded by the bluest sky, while the open world topography reminds me of nothing more than the primeval Halo – something probably only enhanced by the whole ring theme. Combat looks a little tricky, but that probably suits a Sonic game where you’re traversing a vast landscape and attacking enemies.
IGN has the first major part of the gameplay footage, a seven-minute video showing Sonic navigating the vast landscape. The footage here begins with a gigantic vertical climb that showcases the world’s truly impressive scale and, as you’d expect, is dotted with classic Sonic elements like bumpers, speed pads, and loop-the-loops. Sonic is constantly on the move and can easily climb almost any vertical structure, and it’s nice to see a small Wind Waker beckon here – as he runs, seagulls appear and leave the frame above him. You’d think Sonic would be faster than a bird, but whatever.
There are some hints in this first glimpse at how Sonic Team is trying to create an open world that works with the character. There’s a clip of Sonic running around in a hamster-wheel-style ring that appears to be regenerating or doing something with the landscape, which made me wonder if he’s going for an Okami-inspired structure: in this game, you bring the world back to life. life by designing new elements, which sees ruined places explode into brilliant nature.
The video also includes a puzzle that Sonic solves by ‘drawing’ a circle around torches with his speed trail, although in both cases the mechanic is being used to get an item rather than changing the landscape. As the original Sonic’s game had a ‘save the cute pets from industrial evil’ theme, so some sort of regeneration vibe would be a good option. Of course I’m just spitting it out here based on a few seconds of footage.
Other elements include rail milling, which is a Sonic Team favorite, and at certain spots you can see giant networks of rails crisscrossing the sky. There’s a great sense of speed as Sonic traverses the landscape (with decent camera work too, the wonders never cease) and the constant sense of movement is impressive. There’s also an awesome-looking final sequence in the trailer where our hero runs up the leg of a giant mecha-monolith thing and karate kicks its weak spot to make it explode – what’s great here is just the size of the thing, and the thought of walking like Sonic facing all these massive contraptions.
Final thought on the footage: the understated piano music is such a good fit. Say what you will about 3D Sonic games, but the music is always great, even when the action isn’t.
So Sonic Team did it again. They got me excited for a game that I know in my heart of hearts won’t be as good as it looks. But I want to believe. The trailer also comes with a splash screen at the end that confirms for the first time that Sonic Frontiers will be releasing on PC alongside the console versions: it’s slated for late 2022.