The rise of independently developed games during the last generation of consoles was a great time for the industry. Games could be made without the backing of huge companies, and creative, smaller-scale games could come to fruition. At the forefront of this movement was a little title called 2009’s Trials HD, following on from a remake of 2007’s Trials 2. Developed by RedLynx, this title helped forward the indie game scene. And now, ten years later, we have the fourth console entry in the series, with RedLynx now under the Ubisoft. So how does the formula hold up all these years later?
"For those of you with experience with the series, Trials Rising’s gameplay should be more than familiar."
For those of you with experience with the series, the gameplay should be more than familiar. In Trials Rising, you have to guide your rider through 2.5D courses of increasing difficulty. The challenge in this game is carefully applying the gas, brakes, and managing the angle your rider is pointed at. Though the game initially starts out pretty simply, the complexity ramps up over the course of your playthrough.
Most missions are standard rushes to the end of the track. You’ll be given objectives like placing high enough or not wiping out a set number of times, but as long as you focus on getting to the end of the level as quickly and cleanly as you can, you’ll complete these objectives easily. Each level introduces interesting set-pieces, like catapults that launch you or explosions that break up the track you ride on. So even though you’ll be doing pretty much the same thing track after track, it doesn’t feel too dull.
You’ll also open up Skill Games, where you’ll play missions based around a central gimmick. These games will see you launching your rag-dolled body as far as you can, or staying on top of a rotating platform as long as you possibly can. They’re fun diversions and break up the regular missions pretty well. All of these missions you complete level you up, and after enough time played, you’ll be able to try out some of the other bikes in the game, like the powerful Rhino or the technical Mantis. Unlocking these bikes can take a little while though, so for the most part, your motivation to keep progressing in Trials will have to come from the desire to see what the next track looks like.
"Trials suffers from long load times that can really end up killing the pace of the game. With tracks that can sometimes be as short as thirty seconds in length, spending twenty seconds loading into matches becomes tedious."
Trials Rising does introduce a few new aspects into the tried-and-true formula. New players will be able to learn the ropes in the University of Trials. This is a great addition in order to help prepare players for the tasks ahead of them, though it is strange how the lessons aren’t all unlocked at first. You have to play up to a certain level requirement in order to unlock some of the more intricate tutorials, like the one that teaches you bunny hopping. There are also Stadium races, where you have to race against seven other riders at the same time in order to finish a League. Overall, these are both good additions to the Trials formula, and the University especially should return in the next iteration.
Not all is well, however. There are quite a few technical problems in this title. Trials suffers from long load times that can really end up killing the pace of the game. With tracks that can sometimes be as short as thirty seconds in length, spending twenty seconds loading into matches becomes tedious. On top of that, the game can suffer from noticeable pop-up once a tracks has finally loaded in as well. There are also other issues, like loading screens not disappearing when gameplay begins, or the multiplayer camera getting stuck staring at nothing while your rider zips on by. Most of these are issues that can be fixed over time with patches- my fear is that the loading times – by far the worst issue faced by the game – may just be here to stay.
Trials wouldn’t be the force it is today without its track editor. You can create your own runs through set locales and share them online. The editor is stupidly in-depth, and comes with so many options that it’s pretty imposing for newcomers. Although there is no in-game tutorial for coming to terms with the monstrous UI, you will be able to view video tutorials on RedLynx’s YouTube account. The lack of an in-game editor tutorial is a disappointment, and it could turn off potential creators from ever trying the system, unless you have prior experience with Trials’ creation tools. Those who can wrap their heads around the system will be able to create impressive things though. Although I didn’t get far into making my own stages, I was able to play some online tracks easily, and eagerly await more tracks to come. The online levels were always my favorite parts of past Trials games and I think that trend is pretty likely to continue here.
"The presentation of Trials Rising is on point as long as you’re in the mood for it."
From a visuals standpoint, Trails looks pretty much how you remember it. Simple colors and sharp contrast present the game in a fun and poppy way. The attitude of the game is also a throwback to years gone by. The soundtrack is a return to the pop-punk, electronic, and hip-hop-infused extreme sports that have long since gone out of fashion. Artists like Jurassic 5, Bouncing Souls, and Airbourne take you back to the heyday of titles like Tony Hawk and Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX. The presentation of Trials Rising is on point as long as you’re in the mood for it.
You can also customize your rider, as well as your bikes, in this game. Though your options are pretty sparse at first, you’ll eventually uncover more and more of them. Trials rewards you with loot boxes whenever you level up, which is fairly often for your first couple of hours. In typical loot box fashion, expect a lot of low-value stickers and duplicates. In order to get most of what you’ll want, you’ll have to go into the store page and spend some Trials Coins that you’ve accumulated over the course of the game. While many customizations can be purchased with your Coins, most of the really good stuff is only available through in-game currency known as Acorns. You’ll have to grind a long while to afford anything worthwhile. Even though it’s not for me, it may just give long-time players something to strive for.
Multiplayer is still a great time with others. There’s online as well as couch multiplayer, and both are a blast. You can set up a whole plethora of tracks to run through with up to eight people online and four people on the same screen. After enough time played, you can even unlock Challenger Mode, which will see you racing through a gauntlet against three other online players in a row for supremacy and loot. Even though it’s true for almost every game, Trials really is a game that’s better enjoyed with friends. The competition can push you to really learn tracks better than before. This is a title that comes highly recommended if you’ve got a good couple of friends nearby to enjoy it with.
"Trials Rising is more or less the same game you’ve been playing since the series’ debut in 2009 on the Xbox 360, but it’s still fun."
Trials Rising is more or less the same game you’ve been playing since the series’ debut in 2009 on the Xbox 360, but it’s still fun. If you’re looking for more of the series’ physics-based biking action with a new online community, then this title is for you. If the series never really grabbed you before, this entry won’t change your mind. Though it doesn’t add much to the formula, Trials Rising is still an enjoyable time.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Solid Trials gameplay; Great fun in multiplayer.
Excruciating loading times; Technical Issues