Sonic Frontiers plays a lot better than it looks

Sonic Frontiers, you’ve probably already noticed, didn’t look too hot upon its proper reveal earlier this month. With gameplay demos that were rough around the edges and an open world that was strikingly sparse, there’s the hope that a first chance to play it might turn things around but first impressions really aren’t promising. Shakily running on a PC at a low resolution that doesn’t do the visuals any favours, the button prompts for the tutorial are incorrectly labelled and there’s almost a sense of polite embarrassment from the Sega representatives manning the booth, not helped by the car crash quality that drew small crowds when the rough demo was first fired up at Summer Games Fest.

Which is a bit of a shame, given how Sonic Frontiers plays an awful lot better than it looks – faint praise, perhaps, seeing as in its unpolished, unfinished state it looks frankly horrendous, but praise nevertheless for what’s quite easily the boldest, bravest shift the series has seen since 1998’s Sonic Adventure. I think Sonic Frontiers has a fair chance of landing the transition to an all-new style as effectively as that game – faint praise once again seeing as Sonic Adventure had more than its fair share of flaws, but this is Sonic we’re talking about and things haven’t always been straightforward.

Get up and running in Sonic Frontiers, though, and there’s a decent amount of promise in a Sonic game that’s not about simply moving forward. Team Sonic is insistent on using the term ‘Open Zone’ rather than open world (you can read a bit more about what precisely that means in our interview with producer Takashi Iizuka), and it’s certainly a more focussed map that’s on offer, even if you’ve the freedom to explore it at will.

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