When I worked in MarComm (Marketing & Communications), I dreaded April Fool’s Day. Very rarely do gaming companies pull off successful jokes. I’m pretty certain we avoided those posts for anything related to EA SPORTS because it just wasn’t worth the trouble. But that being said, Sega dropped an April Fool’s Day surprise that was quite refreshing. They released a very real game, The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog. For a free game, it’s quite the treat.

Tails and Amy Rose discover Sonic's "lifeless" body

There’s been a murder!

Fear not, Sonic hasn’t been brutally murdered. The title gets its name from the once popular “murder mystery parties” that I think were the rage about five years ago. In this game, Sonic and his friends are celebrating Amy Rose’s birthday by being participants in a murder mystery game taking place onboard a train.

In the game, you’re in control of a new character, whose first day on the job is being the train’s steward. You are tasked with making sure the guests are having fun. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast all have their respective roles on the train. It’s up to “Detective” Tails and “Journalist” Rose to figure out who committed the “grave murder” of killing Sonic.

As soon as the train begins, your character goes from making sure the guests are having a fun time to actively assisting Tails in his investigation. You will venture through each of the different train cars, looking for clues and interrogating the passengers to find the truth.

Knuckles leaning on a broken arcade machine

Can you figure out who did it?

There are a few elements in the game. The first is evidence collection. You do this by simply clicking around the screen looking for anything that could be of use. This is pretty easy as the click objects are obvious to the player and each room only has between one and three items you can find.

After that comes the interrogation. Once you’ve collected the necessary clues, you and tails will approach the people occupying that particular train car and try to find out their relationship to the events that unfolded. Because there are only one or two clues per car, you can’t screw this part up.

When you’ve managed to connect the evidence to your suspect, you enter into a game-within-the-game. You will play an “endless runner” Sonic game where you will need to collect a set number of rings to “unlock” the reason behind the events that took place and progress the story. Of the three gameplay aspects of the game, this is the one that gets increasingly more difficult as you progress through the story.

The endless runner sequence playing on a mock DreamGear

Two hours well spent

That’s about all you do. As the story rolls on, more secrets are revealed and an obvious “twist” happens in the final third of the game. There are also only a small handful of suspects so, figuring out who did what should be pretty easy. You’ll spend most of the game playing the ring collection mini-game as require collecting more of them. At the same time, trying to avoid increasing more difficult obstacles and foes.

This adventure is extremely linear. Each train car contains its own set of evidence to collect and suspect(s) to interview. You don’t have to worry about finding a piece of evidence in the Casino Car to interrogate someone in the Dining Car. Thankfully, the game’s pacing is tight and it never feels like it’s dragging on to pad the game’s length.

In all, most people will finish this in about 2 to 2.5 hours. I didn’t notice any reason to play the game a second time. Once you’ve solved the case and saved the day, there is no incentive to come back and find something you may have missed. At the same time, this isn’t a Team Sonic-developed game, so the actions here wouldn’t be considered “canon”. The events here are just for fun and should be taken as such.

Espio reciting a poem in the Library car

A very nice April Fool’s treat from Sega

In my review of Hi-Fi Rush, I mentioned that I like when developers/publishers surprise-release games. The Murder of Sonic the Hedgehog is another great treat. For a free game, it’s an easy recommendation. Hopefully, this encourages more developers to release fun, bite-sized games like this for their fans to enjoy.