At PAX AUS 2022, Sonic Frontiers felt like the star of the show. A testament to how popular the blue blur is following his big movie success? Or was it because no big publishers showed up to the convention this year? You be the judge. Nonetheless, I managed to get my hands on the available demo, which lasted all of 15 minutes. It was fast, much like Sonic himself, but I feel I walked away knowing a little more about the game.
The demo available at PAX seemed to be near the beginning of the game. Sonic has just arrived in a new and unknown location. The seemingly never-ending fields in front of him are a blur of mountaintops, fields and somehow unexplainable objects like grind rails floating in the sky, perfect for Sonic.
After a quick cutscene introducing a voice in Sonics’ head, I pushed on to the introductory enemies. I despatched them quickly by mashing the light attack button — Sonic launches himself at enemies and spin-balls them into destruction. At first, I thought the combat was going to be numbingly simple, but the introduction of the two (I assume) mini-boss fights gained my attention back.
The two mini-boss fights showcased different elements of Sonics’ fighting style. The first one is how to counterattack, and Sonic dodging enemies’ attacks delicately. I died to this enemy the first time before the game gave me the information I could dodge and block, which was highly necessary to win the battle. However, it was at the second boss battle where things took a more speedster-type turn as Sonic took on an enemy simply called “The Tower.” And you guessed it; it looks just like a tower. This thing moved around fast and would launch fireballs which you have to manoeuvre between, but to damage it, Sonic must run around it at such a speed as to form a circle that creates a force field and can damage enemies and break objects in the world. Performing this action feels good, too; you hold down one button to make Sonic run fast and another to start forming the circle. It was the most fun I had during my short time with Sonic.
I never got to try the Cyber Space level that was up next, even though I saw players before me zipping down the more classic Sonic-designed stage. I spent too much time stuffing around trying to collect all the rings I could in hard-to-reach areas between the two boss fights. So just as I was about to head to the Cyber Space stage, my 15 minutes was up, and it was time to move on.
Sonic Frontiers was the first thing I played at PAX AUS 2022, and although I’m not a Sonic mega-fan, I enjoyed my short hands-on time. The Tower fight stood out to be enough it’s in memory weeks later to write about, which is a good thing. I’m not sure whether this is the kind of game Sonic fans want, but I am intrigued to check out the full game.
Sonic Frontiers is scheduled to release for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and PC on November 9th.