Despite the fact that Sonic Frontiers is mere weeks away from release, it was easily the most sought-after exhibit at PAX Aus last weekend. For most of the show, eager Sonic fans were waiting over three hours to get their hands on a demo of the blue blur’s upcoming title.
With the demand that high, you could be forgiven for ditching the queue, luckily though, we have you covered. When PAX Aus opened, the Checkpoint crew made a beeline to the Sonic Frontiers booth and I managed to get my 15 minutes with the new Sonic game.
Sonic Frontiers is absolutely nothing like Breath of the Wild, so y’all can just drop that right now. There are no weapons breaking, no cell shading to be seen, and Sonic moves a helluva lot faster than Link. The first thing I noticed, despite the relatively unique setting Sonic finds himself in, is that it feels good to run and control Sonic. A refreshing change from the on-rails Sonic we have gotten used to over the past decade or so.
There are still some older mechanics such as targeting to help you jump and hit enemies, which felt kind of necessary because precision platforming in 3D just doesn’t seem like something Sonic Team have down just yet. Don’t worry though, you still have a boost button for when you gotta go fast. Sonic Frontiers also employs a NiGHTs-style loop mechanic, which is button activation allowing you to encircle enemies and disarm them.
When it comes to combat, Sonic uses a mix of fists, kicks and jump attacks. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure this is a first for a mainline Sonic game (we aren’t counting Sonic the Fighters here) and to be honest, it took a bit to get used to. In fact, I did manage to lose a life pretty early on against the first boss character. But once I got the hang of it, it was all good.
When it comes to the setting of Sonic Frontiers, to be honest, it feels a little sparse for a Sonic game. Sure, there were the odd group of enemies and springboards sprinkled around the place. But couple that with the quiet music in the background and it just isn’t the sugar rush of colour, speed and sound that has always set Sonic apart from the crowd.
I made it through to the second ‘boss’ before my time was done but I didn’t get to make my way into the action or side-scrolling stages that some of you may have seen on the interwebs. I didn’t see Big the Cat or Amy, there is obviously far more to this game than what I managed to see. I think that is exciting so on that level this demo has definitely interested me in what is to come.
Overall, I think that Sonic Frontiers has the potential to be a much better game than we thought it could be. The feeling of controlling Sonic in his new open-world adventure was enjoyable. The jury is out on the overall setting and story, whilst fun in a short burst, I wonder how I will feel playing the full-length title when it comes out.
Either way though, I think that this is a very unique title in the Sonic series, it feels like SEGA has taken a risk with this one and it will only be a few weeks before we know how things have actually turned out. I will say though, the demo I played has sold me on trying Sonic Frontiers.