What is a strand game? We’ve been asking ourselves the same question since Hideo Kojima created the genre with the release of Death Stranding in 2019. Since then, each year, we dig deep into the strand genre to discuss what constitutes a worthy entry into this bold new video game direction. After much deliberation, we’ve identified a few key areas, but one stands out the most: creating lasting and meaningful connections. This year, we’ve come to the conclusion that Sonic Frontiers best represents the heart and soul of the strand genre.
For most players, Sonic is all about going fast, but in Sonic Frontiers it’s so much more. Players quickly find themselves stranded on an island – one of the game’s “open zones” – with their buddies nowhere to be found. What follows is an adventure that dabbles in Sonic’s rich history while also eking out a story of helping your friends, making connections, and improving the world.
As players run across the vast and sprawling land, they will be working to create a network of connections with the ultimate goal being to save Amy, Knuckles, and Tails. It’s this blend of open world adventuring and building connections that best represents what we here at Shacknews think goes into this new strand genre.
But beyond the relationships, Sonic Frontiers has players fixing a world that has been infected with some kind of digital plague by Doctor Eggman. By clearing the robots and taking on the titanic bosses, Sonic is repairing a broken world and restoring it to its former glory.
These elements meld together to position Sonic Frontiers as more than just the latest entry in the hugely popular franchise. The connections and relationships, the repairing of the world, and exploration tap into the strand genre that Kojima pioneered back in 2019. For these reasons, Sonic Frontiers has won the Shacknews Best Strand Game of 2022 award.
Check out our Year of the Games: 2022 article to see all of the other Shacknews Awards that have been announced so far.