sound borders is finally here and the blue hedgehog has ventured into fully open territory and the results are truly fantastic.
To enter directly into it, sound borders is an interesting and refreshing open world game. The premise has Sonic and his friends crashing into mysterious islands that are full of ancient ruins.
The main course of the game has Sonic explore large areas to complete challenges. Completing these mini-puzzles unlocks a small portion of the map, opens guide rails (more on that later), and some upgrade currency, of which there are quite a few.
Once you find and complete more challenges, you can search for Portasl. These need Portal Gears to open, which are dropped by enemies large and small.
Entering a portal takes you into cyberspace and into a more traditional world Sonic type of gameplay, where you have to perform linear races through a variety of landscapes.
Each portal tends to have a bunch of requirements, each awarding a vault key. Once you have obtained enough Vault Keys, you can unlock the Chaos Emeralds. With the Chaos Emeralds allowing you to take on each zone’s Titans and become Super Sonic in the process.
Which makes sound borders so special is that it works very naturally in an open-world setup, coupled with a third-person action game setting.
Sonic’s arsenal is also much more comprehensive this time around, with all sorts of unlockable attacks at your disposal. Not to mention all the buffs you can put Sonic through, from increasing your speed to your ring capacity, as well as your defense and attack power.
There are also many different currencies in the game, all of which are tackling these different upgrades and to be honest, it can all be a bit overwhelming at first.
Although the game is not a contiguous open world, each area of the game is huge. The first asks you to save Amy, and she goes with you, telling you where you need to go. However, you can do whatever you want, and I went to unlock all map segments before starting on any of the portals or Amy’s tasks.
The map setup in particular is something I really liked. In most open world games, you need to find a tower or high place to unlock an area map. Sonic Frontiers’ The approach is much better as you have to unlock the map of an area piecemeal through puzzle solving and exploration.
This is the key point here, sound borders is all about exploration. While all the bounce switches and guide rails are everywhere, they’re mostly entirely optional and are there to help you get through areas faster and have fun in general.
That’s because Sonic works brilliantly in an open-world game, simply because he’s a really fast hedgehog. You can easily navigate and explore each of the game’s areas and if you want to browse the various contraptions littering the landscape, you can do that too.
The weird thing here is that in the initial trailers for the game, this setup wasn’t clearly shown. Scare everyone with an eerie landscape littered with rides. It made no sense and there was no context to what was happening. With a property such as Sonicyou need it to understand how the franchise evolves while staying true to its functional roots.
That is why sound borders works so well, because it takes what we love Sonic games and updates it with a more modern approach to world navigation and combat.
On top of that, the dialogue and characterization are excellent. Sonic is adorably cheeky in this outing, and his various friends also bring their own attitude. The story is also told through exploration by finding Amy and her friends in each area, along with other more mysterious characters.
You need to unlock tokens to access these cutscenes, but if you complete all the challenges first, you’ll have accumulated more than enough to see everything you want.
The only thing I will say is that you should pace yourself in the beginning. There isn’t really a gradual onboarding, just a lot of information being pushed to you all at once. This also goes for fights and especially bosses.
You’ll have to be patient and learn all of Sonic’s new moves and trust the game’s combat system to get it running smoothly. Look for challenges first and upgrade Sonic a bit, both in terms of available attacks and basic abilities. Additionally, use the Cyloop ability to accumulate rings and max out your ability from the start.
Just doing small loops anywhere will net you rings and other in-game currency, it’s also a handy thing to use in some boss fights too (when available anyway) .
After playing the demo at the Tokyo Game Show this year, I expected the game to be decent. What we have instead is probably one of the best Sonic games to date.
Globally, sound borders takes the lovable blue hedgehog into new open-world territory, while staying true to how Sonic should feel in a functional sense. There’s also a lot to unpack here, so don’t take on too much at once and just go with the high-speed flow.
Platform: PlayStation 5 (revised), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Sxo
Developer: Sonic Team
Published: November 8, 2022
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this game for the purposes of this review.
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