During Summer Game Fest Play Days, we got to sit down and try out a demo of Sonic Frontiers, messing with it as much as we could. The team basically gave us a rundown of the controls and then let us run loose in the game for a good thirty minutes to explore and do whatever we felt like, with the knowledge that we eventually would need to get to the story. Which was an interesting approach as no one was forcing our hand to explore what is in many ways an open-world title. The game starts Sonic off on an island, one of many in the Starfall Islands, where he hears a mysterious voice from above tell him he needs to start making his way to a certain area to unlock a portal. The island allows you to basically explore however you see fit as there are areas to collect rings, rails to glide on, puzzles to solve, and many enemies to defeat.
A number of mechanics from previous Sonic The Hedgehog titles are here, including Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, and Sonic Lost World. All the good ones, I should say. They are combined into what feels like a refined version of the bunch with a glossier look and a world that feels far more real than anything they've attempted below. At the event, a few people jokingly called it The Legend Of Sonic: Blur Of The Wild. But it's true when it comes to world design as you can basically go anywhere you'd like. We mainly stuck around the first zone messing with everything we could and trying to essentially get as perfect as we possibly could on it.
However, this is where we ran into some difficulties. There are many puzzles that involve objects that appear and then vanish after use. If you fail a puzzle, they don't come back. The only way to try again is to throw Sonic off the edge of the level and die so that everything respawns. On occasion, the camera couldn't keep up with us going fast, so we would crash into a wall. Many of the enemies were fair and easy to figure out when we got the pattern down, but there were some challenges and bosses that just did not want to play fair and would hit before we had a chance to even get up off the ground.
There were a lot of great things about Sonic Frontiers, but at the same time, there was stuff here that reminded us of Sonic '06. All that being said, we can take a step back and recognize this is just a demo, and the game isn't going to be out for another year, so there's plenty of time to fix things and adjust other things to make it all work well. So overall, a lot to like and look forward to, but its got issues that we hope are addressed.