Trials Of The Blood Dragon
PC, PS4, Xbox One
With Trials Of The Blood Dragon, RedLynx – keen to distance itself from the accusations of mechanical homogeneity and repetition so often levelled at publisher Ubisoft – seems to have gone out of its way to ensure Trials fans no longer have to endure a continual procession of brilliantly conceived bike-based platforming challenges. The problem, of course, is that this is the one Ubisoft-published series where any distraction from the core mechanic is grating.
So, in the name of innovation and diversity, we’re offered a selection of spirit-sapping gameplay modes whose only thread of commonality is that they’re poorly suited for Trials’ ageing, bike-focused engine. On-foot sections deliver floaty, vague controls that make it feel like your character is entirely disassociated from the environment – and you’ll have to exchange fire with awkwardly positioned enemies along the way.
An infrequently piloted remote-control car sucks all of the joy out of the game’s obstacle courses, while a brief stealth section does much the same for any twitching remnant of your sense of momentum. And then there are the jetpack portions in which you’re gifted a propulsion device that feels simultaneously underpowered and erratic. RedLynx even takes the time to sully the memory of Trials’ excellent skill challenges by making you drag a vibration-sensitive bomb across the surface of a mountainous, wreckagestrewn alien planet. Rather than an inessential distraction in which you see how far you can get against increasingly long odds, however, here it’s on the critical path and immediately followed with the game’s most galling jetpack segment.
The greatest annoyance in all of this is that there are some truly memorable Trials moments buried underneath the rest of the tosh. A drug-fuelled trip down the side of a building stands out, as does a brief pinball-inspired obstacle course. Shooting at targets while on the bike inspires the occasional grin, and the introduction of a grappling hook shows flashes of potential – though here it falters thanks to the lack of convincing applications. And every instance of enjoyable Trials biking is weighed down by inseparable – and insufferable – variations on the theme.
Given the promotional Trials Fusion video included in the package, this offshoot is presumably intended to bring curious players into the core series’ fold, but we can’t think of a less appealing introduction. In fact, we’d much rather play the awful unicorn levels in Fusion’s Awesome Level Max DLC, which probably ranks among the most damning things we’ve ever said about a game.
The BloodDragon treatment is erratically applied, giving an inconsistent aesthetic that, while delivering pleasing artwork and live-action cutscenes, is let down by a scruffy game engine and an overuse of brown and beige