During the summer of 2013, RedLynx’s massively addictive racing-platformer Trials Evolution grabbed ahold of me and refused to let go, thanks in large part to the game’s exposure through YouTube personalities Hutch and SeaNanners. The XBLA and PC title succeeded through its simple gameplay and cheesy presentation, and its emphasis on leaderboards, user-created content and a few relentlessly difficult tracks made it one of my favorite games from the past generation. For the next installment in the long-running series, RedLynx has taken our favorite motorcycle men into the future, and though I’m not entirely sure what is being combined with what, Trials Fusion is a fantastic sequel that is more than worthy of carrying the series into the next generation.
Trials Fusion is a 2.5D motorcycle platformer, placing the player along a fixed plane to jump, speed and soar along the game’s increasingly difficult obstacle courses. Standing in the player’s way are a series of ramps, boxes, explosives, pipes, wheels, buildings and mountains, each designed to test both reaction time and general intuition. The series has been known for its expectations of precision from players, and Trials Fusion is no exception; the later stages require “bunny hops” and almost impossible mid-air manipulations to land jumps, and I frequently found myself saying “that’s absolutely impossible” before finally conquering an obstacle
While simply completing a course nets the player a bronze medal, finishing in a certain amount of time and with few faults (the game’s fancy word for “screw-ups”) can earn a silver or gold medal. On the first few
Trials Evolution’s course design was incredible, with a Limbo-inspired level and the infamous “Gigatrack,” but Trials Fusion holds its own with its mix of traditional, earthy locals and “futuristic” design reminiscent of the all-chrome episode of Spongebob Squarepants. They don’t add too much to the traditional Trials experience, but the aesthetic change and commentary from both Cindy and an apparently always-present, slightly sarcastic second program help to make the game feel fresh, unlike the “welcome to the future” theme song blaring on repeat throughout Trials Fusion’s many menus.
Perhaps Trials Fusion’s most noteworthy additions are the “FMX” courses, freestyle tracks that task players with putting together combinations of flips and the brand-new tricks — executed by moving the right thumbstick at a variety of angles. These scale organically in difficulty after they’re initially introduced, and they allow players to get creative in a way that isn’t possible in the main courses. Unfortunately, there are only a few of these included, and although there’s something to be said for RedLynx sticking to its guns and focusing on improving the core gameplay of the series, it would’ve been nice to see just two or three more of these stages.
Returning from the previous game are the “skill” stages, which give players specific challenges like riding as far as possible without using the front wheel or keeping their riders’ adrenaline up so that their bike doesn’t explode. These serve as nice distractions at the end of each event, but they don’t beg to be replayed like the other two course-types do. Still, these could be some of the best modes to show off to friends, as the simple challenges could liven up what might otherwise be a frustrating demonstration of why the developers hate happiness.
Trials Fusion has plenty of tracks to keep players busy, but its inclusion of course-specific challenges help to ensure that each stage isn’t a simple one-and-done affair. Early events offer rewards for completing them with bikes (in one case, it’s a literal bicycle) that can only be unlocked at the end of the game, while others give extra experience points for flipping a certain number of times or landing specific tricks. Some of these are simple to complete, but others — specifically those that only count if part of a zero-fault run — add a level of challenge to stages that might otherwise be pieces of cake. Trying to pull off ten flips on a course with only a few big ramps is much easier said than done.
Trials Evolution included several customization options, but Trials Fusion takes this to a near-ridiculous level. In addition to the six different vehicles (five of which must be unlocked) players can dress their adorable motorcycle man up in futuristic suits, traditional daredevil outfits, punk rock costumes, and even a HAZMAT suit. The sheer absurdity of seeing a wannabe Jesse Pinkman try to land a Superman-backflip is almost reason enough to give the game a shot. Of course, a stupidly complex course-creator tool also lets users build their own maps, and if the previous game serves as a predictor, players can expect some extremely innovative creations.
Unfortunately, at launch there is currently only an offline multiplayer option for Trials Fusion. The developers promise a changed experience in a future update, as well as the addition of tournaments and new leaderboards, but it isn’t included at release. What is included for offline play more closely resembles Evolution’s multiplayer, featuring both “trials’ obstacle course stages and the longer “supercross” tracks, but how much resemblance this bears to the online experience is still unknown. Should the update drastically affect the game, either for better or worse, we will amend the review accordingly.
Trials Fusion is everything that I wanted out of a sequel to the immensely entertaining Trials Evolution, and its inclusions supplement the core gameplay rather than undermining it. It kept me glued to my controller for hours at a time, and even when I thought I had played enough, I kept feeling the urge to come back for more. With the game available on PlayStation for the first time in the series’ history, it now has a chance to show an even bigger audience just how awesome it is.
Invisible Gamer’s review of Trials Fusion is based on final PlayStation 4 review code provided to us by Ubisoft.