Sonic Frontiers doesn’t look like any Sonic game we’ve seen before. Rather than a brightly colored, nonstop fever dream, Sonic Frontiers seems like an open-ended, quiet, almost meditative experience.
The game seems to draw a lot of inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild, right down to the contemplative piano music. As an open-world action game, we don’t know whether Sonic Frontiers will ultimately live up to its promise. But we can say that, as a Sonic game, it doesn’t seem to jell with what we know about the character.
IGN posted seven minutes of gameplay from Sonic Frontiers as part of its IGN First program, and Sonic fans will probably want to take a look for themselves. To say that it’s not like any other Sonic game we’ve seen before is an understatement:
Rather than stylish cityscapes, cartoonish enemies and rock soundtracks, Sonic Frontiers has open fields, plenty of puzzles and melodic piano in the background. (Gamers who know a little bit about music theory may not be shocked to hear that the opening melody has almost exactly the same chord progression as Breath of the Wild’s main theme.)
In this gameplay snippet, Sonic doesn’t interact with any other characters or fight any robots, opting instead to traverse verdant fields, rocky ledges and geometrically improbable ruins, collecting rings and upgrades as he goes.
Of course, some of the gameplay will look familiar to 3D Sonic fans. Sonic can still run fast, curl into a ball, auto-target floating platforms, climb walls and use his momentum to carry him over otherwise-impossible obstacles. It seems that some surfaces will facilitate this better than others, so the platforming challenge lies in running and jumping to the right surface at the right time. That part, at least, is tried-and-true Sonic.
There is something decidedly odd about the rest of the video, though. If you distilled “the ‘90s,” as a concept, down to a single video game character, it would probably be Sonic the Hedgehog. And, if you weren’t there during the ‘90s, it was a loud, daring, zany decade. Assuming that the story in Sonic Frontiers matches the gameplay we’ve seen so far, it’s going to be a much more subtle take on the character — and I’m not really sure that Sonic does either “subtle.”
At the risk of comparing yet another game to Breath of the Wild, Sonic Frontiers really does look, and sound, like Breath of the Wild. When Tom’s Guide gets its hands on the game, we’ll let you know whether that’s a good or bad thing.