Every year, many of our favorite game companies participate in April Fools silliness and, to avoid the lawsuit hungry people that have ruined a lot of the fun these companies can have with April Fools, they normally go pretty tame.
Marvel Snap introduced the ability to purchase a bundle that gives you a rock avatar and a title of “I got a rock.” Pokemon Go introduced a special event that may as well be called “Oops, All Pidgeys”. And Pokemon itself gave Gamestop a special distribution code that gives you a…Lechonk. To say most games have been pretty underwhelming in their attempts this year is to be an understatement.
But not Sega. Sega came in clutch this year with one of the better April Fools attempts I’ve ever seen. Along side the announcement that they’re considering taking the Sonic franchise in a “bold new direction” they released a completely free game on Steam titled “The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog”.
And, like 90% of everything on Steam, it’s a visual novel. And even better, it’s 100% real and I love it.
For Amy Rose’s birthday, the Sonic gang, from mainstays like Tails and Knuckles, to more obscure characters like Espio and Vector, join here as they hop aboard a train to engage in a fun murder mystery escape room type situation. Every character has a lore card putting them in the role of characters like Knuckles the Sheriff, Espio the Poet, Rogue the Captain of Industry, Tails the Detective and more. Everything is going along swimmingly until it’s discovered that Sonic might not be PLAYING dead.
What happens is a surprisingly well written and deep lore filled journey through a mysterious train as you gather clues and figure out what happened. They mention Blaze’s dimension, Espio’s time as a ninja, Rogue’s need to steal. The characters are all fully fleshed out.
But don’t worry, if you’re here for Sonic for the memes, it’s got you as well.
There’s also a ton of references to other Sega things like the Game Gear, Super Monkey Ball, and more. A big one is that every time your player character (a new, genderless character that works on the train) has to think of what it could be, they clear their mind by mentally playing an old video game on their “DreamGear” a very Game Gear inspired device in which you play a Sonic minigame where you have to collect enough rings by the end of a course while avoiding spikes and gaps. These minigames are actually genuinely fun and the difficulty these get to make them honestly enjoyable little bite-sized platformers.
All in all, the game doesn’t take long to beat but if you’re a Sonic fan it’s really enjoyable. Like, this game is free and the team that put it together absolutely didn’t have to put this much work into an April Fools joke but they did and…now I’m honestly hoping they do more. I’d really love to see more Sonic world visual novels.
Especially if I get to see more of Espio pretending to be a poet and just failing.
Anyways, I don’t know how long this is going to be on Steam or if it’s going to stay on indefinitely but you should absolutely snag this because it’s the most fun I’ve had with the Sonic universe in a long time, especially after the bleak disappointment I felt from Sonic Frontiers. Oh, and it works on both PC AND Mac so, as a Mac user, it was another pleasant surprise for me.