The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog Review – Something Smells a Bit Sussy

    Title: The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog
    Developer: Sega
    Release Date: March 31, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Sega
    Genre: Mystery Adventure, Visual Novel

The unpredictability of April Fools rarely leaves a mutually positive lasting effect. Between any manner of individual taking it too far to some pranks leaving sour tastes in several mouths, I think there’s a paltry, if at all present, number of people who actually look forward to his annual holiday(?) Yet, life has a way of subverting expectations, and in the case of this particular April Fools, we received a bizarre and out-of-nowhere game from Sega, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog.

I could have never predicted that any timeline could produce an authentic Sonic the Hedgehog visual novel, let alone one with such an out-there title, but I’m not complaining. Because, defying all expectations, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most polished, charming, and memorable games I’ve ever played that I firmly believe every fan, and perhaps even non-fans, should experience.

The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog, which, let me tell you, never fails to feel existentially abnormal to type out in an official, professional capacity, has players view events from a brand-new original character you name. They are a new worker on the Mirage Express, a prominent train solely utilized for events, and the day you see depicted in-game is their first day on the job. Their duty throughout the story becomes all-encompassing, but their role in all actuality is just the train’s resident microwave user since, I guess, that’s the easiest way to provide meals.

The Mirage Express’ conductor is on his last day on the job, and it’s up to you to ensure it’s a smooth one. As for the event occurring on this day, it’s a birthday celebration for Amy Rose, who invites Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, Vector, Espio, Rogue, and Blaze. They’re participating in a murder mystery party and are all pretty dedicated to the bit. Each party-goer obtained lore cards detailing their roles’ backstories, with their new attire reflecting said roles.

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You quickly get acquainted with these iconic characters, accompanied by some humorous writing. Interestingly, the character you embody has a personality all their own, though they do still feel like a self-insert of sorts who often talks and reacts in ways I at least would. A few of their offhanded comments make them far more relatable than I was expecting. Plus, their approaches and perspectives on references and long-established character relationships were genuinely refreshing since they come from a place of endearing ignorance.

Soon after the mystery game begins, the train’s speed picks up drastically, causing you to end up locked in a closet with Tails and Amy, neutral parties in this event. Then, you all spot Sonic on the ground outside. While Tails and Amy assume he’s napping and see this state as a sign that the mystery game has begun, your character isn’t quite convinced after hearing brief, worrying remarks from Sonic before supposedly falling unconscious. Is he truly alright, or…has someone truly murdered Sonic the Hedgehog?

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This is where the gameplay picks up, comprising area investigation, character interrogation, and a unique mechanic called the Dream Gear. Essentially, when interrogating a character and following with either presenting evidence or asserting a claim, the player will enter a flow-like state. Via a recommendation from Tails, you try to face conflicts the way the main man Sonic the Hedgehog, himself does — moving forward relentlessly. In an endless runner-esque format, you control an imaginary version of Sonic in a fictionalized Dream Gear conjured by your player’s head, needing to collect a specified number of rings in a given time while avoiding obstacles.

These minigames are all short yet always satisfying to beat, primarily thanks to their control. It feels nice and smooth, with you only needing to acclimate to Sonic’s movement speed for a bit before it clicks. Although there is no life or health system in these platforming scenarios or when questioning suspects, which may appear as an oversight, but it didn’t bother me, honestly. After all, this title only takes a few hours to play through, so I found the intention to complete the game in one sitting or close to that. Additionally, the ring-collecting stages mostly come off as brief, enjoyable asides more than anything else. I wouldn’t view the lack of challenge or consequence as a detriment since this game is clearly not aiming to embrace either of those facets.

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The dialogue is where this game shines its brightest. Every interaction and observation is just so heartwarming, amusing, and in character that I was thoroughly hooked the whole way through. Further, when meshing the strong writing of this pre-established cast with the terrific player character, you have some of the simultaneously wildest and wholesome official Sonic content ever crafted; I can’t praise these aspects enough. Moreover, a tangentially related point worth emphasizing is the planted references that serve to make Sonic’s world consistent and immersive.

After Sonic Frontiers began this trend in the games and Sega hired an official lore manager, I’m indescribably glad they’re all taking the time to make sure these integral connections are in place. Hopefully, these efforts will be kept up in the future. Regarding the mystery itself, it’s not exactly a masterclass by any means, yet it’s engaging to keep track of, and there are neat twists at the end that make initial events more well-written in hindsight.


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Lastly of note, is the presentation and soundtrack. Of course, simply looking at this title should inform you of how masterful the former department is. Every train car, character, and other asset is gorgeous. The vibrancy of everything makes the setting feel like a Sonic comic come to life in some ways. As for the music, I was, once again, amazed. There are a shocking number of unique tracks here that play not only in certain contexts but also in different areas, and they all hit well. I’m sincerely wishing for Sega to release them on streaming services because I’ll be first in line.

The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is a must-play experience. Sega has hit it out of the park with a Sonic-themed mystery adventure visual novel boasting captivating storytelling, fantastic character interaction, as well as a stellar presentation and soundtrack of similar quality. I had a big ol’ smile on my face from beginning to end, and can’t recommend this game enough. The fact that it’s free is almost criminal. Sega making another entry like this is wholly up in the air, but I’ll be hoping with all my heart that they do.

Review copy purchased by outlet or reviewer

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.