WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Sonic FrontiersSonic Frontiers has finally been released to the public, and impressions are generally positive. This is the Sonic game fans have been waiting years for, as it brings something new to the franchise. With a completely different structure built around large Open Zone areas, Sonic Frontiers presents many micro challenges that players can engage with at their leisure in a larger than normal play space. Combined with an impressive script as well as more emotional voice deliveries, Frontiers has impressed on many fronts.
There are a lot of points of interest thanks to this title’s unique approach, but one of the more understated ones is the direction it takes its story. Thanks to head writer Ian Flynn’s heavy investment in the Sonic series, Frontiers features so many callbacks that it even canonizes a couple characters from the IDW comics and Sonic Boom. This trait was evident from the Convergence and Divergence prologues released before Frontiers was, but it’s all over the game. In particular, there seems to be an especially strong connection between Sonic Frontiers and the two Sonic Adventure games.
Sonic Frontiers Recalls Sonic Adventure in Many Ways
In interviews, one of the producers for Sonic Frontiers, Takashi Iizuka, has stated that his favorite Sonic game is Sonic Adventure 2. Some of this was bound to shine through in the final product, and Frontiers does feel more like a sequel to Adventure more than any other modern Sonic entry. The open fields littered with activities have something to do with that, and certain segments of Cyber Space levels remake portions of famous Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 stages. The sense of open exploration that was present in certain parts of Adventure has finally returned for the first time since Unleashed. Big the Cat leading a new fishing minigame feels like the cherry on top in terms of gameplay comparisons.
The link to Sonic Adventure is felt not only in Sonic Frontiers‘ gameplay, but in its story as well. In summary, Sonic Frontiers returns to Adventure‘s more serious and contemplative tone with a tight ensemble cast. Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Forces tried to present more mature storytelling, but they couldn’t strike emotional chords in the same way certain characters did in the Adventure games. In addition, Sonic Frontiers actually develops meaningful arcs for its characters, weaving years of disconnected Sonic storytelling together to create something new. With an approach similar to Adventure right down to the way that flashbacks are implemented, the ties between these games are hard to deny.
Sonic Adventure’s Narrative Sets the Stage for Sonic Frontiers
However, Sonic Frontiers goes significantly deeper than just alluding to the Adventure games, and could even be considered an untitled Sonic Adventure 3. The Sonic Frontiers Prologue: Divergence animated short featuring Knuckles sets up further ruminations on characters and concepts that Sonic Adventure introduced. The origin of the Chaos Emeralds is brought up in Adventure 1, and explored further by Sonic Frontiers. Additionally, the ancestors of the Chao and Adventure 1’s antagonist Chaos are also revealed to be Frontiers’ extraterrestrial Ancients, who brought their Chaos Emeralds to Earth before most sacrificed themselves to seal The End.
Picking up plot threads not seen since Sonic‘s Dreamcast days is a surprise, but a welcome one. Not only is the backstory deeply tied to Adventure, but it feels like the characters’ own arcs are related as well. Amy and Tails gain the confidence to pursue their goals without Sonic, and Knuckles realizes that he should broaden his horizons. Even Eggman contemplates his extended family from Adventure 2, and attempts to take on a fatherly role for his AI creation Sage. After years of asking for a Sonic Adventure 3, Sonic Frontiers finally carries on the legacy of the fan-favorite subseries.
Sonic Frontiers is out now for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.