The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog is a game I’m pretty sure nobody had on their Sonic bingo card. If you had told me a year ago that a Sonic murder mystery visual novel was going to come out on April Fool’s Day I… actually probably would’ve believed you because that’s way too specific. To come back to the point, Sonic spinoffs have been near nonexistent aside from the ill-fated Boom series and a racing game or two for the last decade.
This leaves The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog in the perfect spot. Even with literally zero expectations from the fanbase, the small team of fans that made the latest entry in the Sonic franchise have knocked it out of the park. The game oozes with passion for the world of Sonic. A lot of that passion comes out in the way that it treats the many characters that make up this short and sweet Whodunnit.
Murdering Sonic Gives Everyone Else Breathing Room.
The main strength of The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog lies in its main concept. By having Sonic “dead” and out of the picture for 90% of the game, The rest of the cast gets time in the spotlight. From mainstays like Tails and Knuckles to characters who haven’t been in a Sonic game in years like Blaze the cat, everyone is a suspect. This means that they all have their time to shine. What was the most surprising to me as a lifelong Sonic nerd was how well characterized they all were. While it might sound odd, characters like Rouge and the Chaotix have been relegated to cameos or lifeless minor roles in Sonic Forces for an entire console generation. So, when a spinoff visual novel has Rouge hunting treasure or remembering that Blaze is from an alternate universe, it’s just nice.
A Fun Self-Insert
The character you play as in the middle of this is an underpaid train worker. They aren’t cool or powerful and the other characters treat them as an accquaintance, but that’s where their strengths lie. By having the player character be a part of the adventure, but never really part of the gang, it adds to the comedy when the rest of the cast puts your character under pressure or judges your dialogue choices. The avatar’s timid personality meshes well with the larger-than-life Sonic characters and it gives the rest of the cast a good point to bounce off of as they are interrogated.
Self-Aware, but Not in Your Face
Using Amy’s birthday as a framing device for a murder mystery game, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog never takes itself too seriously. This lets the Sonic gang (and your character, an underpaid train worker) interact as friends. The dialogue is fun and sincere, like the Sonic Adventure era, but it has the series’ more recent self-awareness. What I especially like about the game’s writing is that the self-awareness doesn’t come across as self-deprecating.
Sonic Forces had its Sanic t-shirt and some jokes in Sonic Generations and the Sonic Boom cartoon would often come across as apologetic for the way the series is. The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog on the other hand doesn’t make references that don’t fit the narrative. There aren’t “we don’t talk about that” jokes and the easter eggs aren’t just trying to bait nostalgia. Any references to older games are blended into dialogue or hidden in the background. The game wants to stand on its own merits and it does so excellently.
To conclude, I think The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is neat and I really just wanted to talk about it. I love the artwork and the music, but it’s the character writing that left me with a big smile on my face. all of the characters feel true to themselves yet modernized in a way that doesn’t feel forced. It sets a precedent with its sharp writing and genuine care for all of Sonic’s history that more Sonic games should follow. There’s so much more to talk about but rather than me spoiling it here, Sonic fans should absolutely check it out because one of the best parts of The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is that the game is completely free.