Debates about difficulty in video games are not usually resolved easily. We do not intend to be the ones to open that discussion. Nevertheless, friction exists; friction creates difficulty, and that is something we must consider. There are difficult games. There are easy games. And within the same franchise, there are games that are more challenging than others. It is also true that over time, games have become easier. What we did not expect is that the most difficult game in a franchise would be released after 32 years of history.
“Sonic Frontiers” is the latest Sonic game, released on November 8, 2022. With good reviews and a warm reception from the audience, it is the best-received Sonic game developed by the Sonic Team since SEGA stopped producing consoles. This achievement is notable on its own, and it’s further enhanced by the post-launch care given to the game, with up to three free updates in the form of DLCs.
The latest of these free DLCs was released a few days ago and is called “The Final Horizon.” Adding new missions, fresh story content, and the opportunity to play for the first time as Tails, Knuckles, and Amy, each with their own powers and abilities, it’s a massive DLC that breathes entirely new life into the game. But that’s not what’s drawing the most attention to the game. It’s the fact that many players are complaining that this DLC is the most challenging Sonic game in history.
With a GameFAQs forum page in the Sonic Frontiers subforum titled “this DLC is too difficult” spanning twelve pages, along with dozens of comments on social media, these remarks shouldn’t surprise us. Not when the difficulty level is indeed much higher than one might expect.
How difficult is it? Sections that require perfect jumps, a final sequence featuring end bosses capable of defeating Sonic with a single hit, and a complete absence of save points between them. This makes the experience of this DLC extremely frustrating for some players. It prompts us to wonder if it’s genuinely a very hard game or simply one with poorly balanced friction.