Scrolling through Twitter on the morning of April 1st, I had to rub my eyes a couple of times to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. Is SEGA releasing a murder mystery Sonic the Hedgehog game? Yes, so they assured me. The game actually exists, Steam link and all. And what’s more, it’s even free.
Of course, my curiosity got the best of me. Given that it’s free, I just had to see what exactly SEGA was working with here. Over the last decade, Sonic games have struggled to find something truly new and original. Although it started as an April Fools’ joke, this cute little game signals what SEGA is truly capable of – creative, inspired, and, dare I say, fun and original Sonic content. With that said, let’s dive right into this review of The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog!
The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is free to play on Steam.
Story – Sonic x Murder on the Orient Express
The game starts on a lovely bright afternoon. You are an employee on the Mirage Express, a train that exclusively serves as an event space. It’s your job to assure everyone on board is having a good (and particularly safe!) time. But aside from that, you’re mostly in charge of the microwave. You get to name your character to add to the immersion. Me being who I am, I asked ChatGPT what to call them, and it came up with the wonderful name “Blazeen.” I grew to love Blazeen, I think they’ll be the original Sonic character to live on forever in my heart.
I’m getting off track. It’s quite the day you’re dropping into this adventure. It’s not just the old conductor’s last ride, but it’s also the birthday of Amy Rose, who organizes a murder mystery party on the train for her birthday. So, within minutes, a bright selection of Sonic characters shows up to play the party. Everyone assumes a role, with one of them being the “killer.”
All the characters are pretty dedicated to their roles. But as the train violently starts moving, things seem to turn south fast. The unfortunate first victim of the murderer is none other than Sonic! The others who found his body quickly get to investigating. Sonic’s only playing dead, right?
As you investigate, you join forces with Tails, who’s been assigned the detective role. As with every classic whodunnit, almost everyone acts suspiciously. People are not where people were supposed to be, alibis barely match up, and people lie to keep you from finding out the truth to preserve anything – from murdering Sonic to the pettiest forms of pride. You could say it’s a pretty cliché whodunnit setting – and it is – but it’s simultaneously delightful to play a mix of Agatha Christie and Ace Attorney with Sonic characters.
Gameplay – Good at Deduction or Just Good at Sonic?
“The plot thickens.” It’s the central thesis of any enjoyable whodunnit, and The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is no exception. You quite literally inch closer to resolving the riddle, The scene of the murder, the Mirage Express, is a very advanced train that’s split up into several cabins. Every cabin contains one or two Sonic characters, and you can’t progress to the next cabin without getting the characters in that cabin to open up the door for you. Although you normally could, a certain “Ultimate Life Form,” who assumes the role of the locksmith, has been locking doors left and right and handing out keys to delay your progress. Yes, he is that guy.
There are multiple phases in every investigation. First, you investigate clues by pointing and clicking. The system works excellently since it’s abundantly clear what you can and cannot click on thanks to thick green outlines when you hover over it. When you found enough clues, Tails points out that you can start questioning the characters in that cabin. Every time you present a piece of evidence to prove a theory, find a contradiction, or discredit a lie, you get to play a short minigame.
The minigame is always a short classic Sonic segment. You control Sonic on an imaginary version of the Dreamcast, where you have to go through a short runner game, collecting enough rings while avoiding the objects. There aren’t lives, so if you fail, you just get to try again. The game is pretty laid-back in terms of letting you advance – it doesn’t try to frustrate you gameplay-wise.
Comedic Dialogue and Fun Interactions
The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog shines in its dialogue and the character interactions. It generally works well too – although the occasional long loading time may make it seem like your game is crashing. Still, the game is riddled with dry humor and deliberately comical situations. Your character is perfectly cast as the awkward tag-along, who’s in way over their head and unable to read the celebrities around him – even though they can read you like an open book.
The interactions between the Sonic cast members themselves are pretty great too. I never thought Espio reciting cruddy poetry was something I missed in my life – but now I don’t think I want another Sonic game without him doing that. Amy as the spoiled birthday girl, Tails as the overly optimistic and curious detective, and Shadow as the edgy locksmith who’s been locking all the doors for an unknown reason are particularly well cast. Thanks to the well-written dialogue, the game feels colorful and alive. I’m a huge fan of lots of flavor text in my games – and The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog delivers.
Graphics – Attention to Detail
Graphically as well, I have nothing but praise for The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog. The train is beautifully designed, with lots of little Easter eggs to explore and interact with. Every cabin feels vibrant and alive thanks to the noticeable fun that the developers had when making this game. In the library cabin, for example, there is a book you can read with turns out to be written by Dr. Eggman. Eggman combining his autobiography with a cookbook just feels so… Eggman. I love it.
There are Chao posters everywhere, and the windows paint a few beautiful scenes of Sonic’s colorful world. The cast is well-presented too. The exaggerated outfits and expressions make this game all the more fun and engaging to play through. It seems that SEGA had absolutely no issue breathing so much life into the Sonic universe.
Sound – The Right Atmosphere
The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog hasn’t cut any corners to bring an immersive experience. The music is charming and unique. From the bright atmosphere at the start to the tenser questioning moments and the fast-paced Sonic music playing during the Sonic gameplay segments.
The game doesn’t have voice acting, but if I’m honest, it doesn’t need it. It makes it perfect for professionals and amateurs alike to give their take on the characters, making the whole adventure even more fun to play through. It won’t surprise you that I played through the entire game in a single afternoon – but the game is only supposed to take about 2 hours, anyway.