REVIEW: Steamworld Dig 2

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Mac, PS4, Vita, 3DS
  • Time to get into: 30 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 11 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

The nuts and bolts of Steamworld Dig 2 are built like a classic Metroidvania game. All the elements are here: exploring one massive gameworld bit by bit, gathering upgrades that enable you to reach places previously impassable, boss battles that move the story along, etc etc. As such, it’s at risk of being just another one of these games but Steamworld Dig 2 manages to still feel fresh thanks to two elements. The gameplay may be nothing new but it’s all right out of the genre’s very top drawer and the characters that fill this world are charming and engaging. Even if it doesn’t blow you away, Steamworld Dig 2 will leave you with a satisfied feeling – and sometimes, that is all you need.2018052113310800-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79

Well worn territory
In recent years, I’ve been getting tired of games in the Metroidvania genre. They always seem decidedly retro and limited in scope, like they are easy to churn out and sell so developers don’t bother to be that original. I’m sure there are probably gems that I have missed along the way, but it’s been a while since one caught my imagination in the same way Steamworld Dig 2 did. The Switch is also a console upon which such games can and do thrive, so I decided they were a good combination to have a dip into. In the end, SD2 both confirmed and confounded my expectations. There are no mechanics or plot points or even gameplay elements that are outside of what you’d expect. Overall, it lacks ‘wow’ moments, other than one crazy sequence towards the end. I won’t give away anything through spoilers, but just for a few minutes the pace and danger of the game is suddenly hugely ramped up, only to fall back in line straight after. It’s a shame there are not more sections that change things up like this, but let’s get on to focus on why you should consider playing this game, despite the above!2018052117522900-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79

Dorothy’s journey
You play as a little robot called Dorothy who is looking for an old friend called Rusty (I’ve not played the original Steamworld Dig but apparently Rusty was in that). This takes you to the town of El Machino and down, down, down into the mines there in search of him. Every move and action that Dorothy can do feels so smooth and effortless, whether it’s climbing, jumping or digging. The whole game is in 2D and is organised in small blocks, so you can dig left, right and down, but not directly diagonal. This is a great thing as it maintains a sense of order to the environment – it would quickly become messy and hard to manage or navigate if it could be destroyed more freely. Early on you’ll need to continually retrace your steps to return to the surface to gather more light and health but after a bit you’ll find a generous set of fast-travel points, which make doing so much quicker. You’ll want to return to El Machino regularly anyway as selling the resources you gather as you explore gets you some cash to spend on upgrades. Along with discovering new abilities throughout the world the balance between of exploration and upgrades is perfect. I never felt like I was breezing through challenges with an overpowered character but neither did I horribly struggle at any point. By the end Dorothy is, excuse the pun, an absolute machine – blasting through enemies, flying around and digging through the most solid of rock like it is sand.2018052417480100-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79.jpg

Dorothy’s other journey
The rest of the game uses this solid gameplay as a base from which to build a fascinating and joyful experience. Dorothy‘s is joined on her journey by a strange ethereal character called Fen. Fen usually travels inside Dorothy, so you are not ever called to manage two characters, rather Fen serves to ensure that the game doesn’t feel lonely by occasionally popping out for a chat. It really surprised me how engaged I felt with these two. They do argue between each other but actually overall, they work well as a team in the face of the challenges, twists and opportunities they face. By the end I was fully on board with them and really wanted them to succeed. I also have to mention the music in Steamworld Dig 2 – it’s fantastic. Each environment has a different feel which fits beautifully with the visuals. It’s all fairly chilled out but still each one is very distinctive. Another reason I didn’t mind heading back to the surface regularly to sell my wares as I could hear the town’s music again! Lots of games have bits of great music but there aren’t many that are as filled with great music the whole time as this. All these slightly more intangible things combine to make SD2 a very pleasurable experience: Dorothy‘s determination – and your own – is well rewarded.2018052318180400-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79

Conclusion
From the characters, to the music, to the animations, Steamworld Dig 2 exudes a simple charm that draws you into the journey of Dorothy and Fen. That it then backs this up with such solid gameplay makes it a game that can connect with most players – a gamer’s game if you will. Well worth your time.Review3

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REVIEW: Super Mega Baseball 2

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Xbox One
  • Also available on: PC, PS4
  • Time to get into: 10 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 32 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local and online

Underneath the cartoon graphics, the silly names and the irreverent humour, Super Mega Baseball 2 is a surprisingly realistic, deep and full-featured take on baseball. It makes little or no effort to be anything but fun on the surface and relies on the gameplay to keep you coming back. It’s a bet worth taking: Super Mega Baseball 2 is easy to pick up but hard to master, so every time you smoke one more home-run out of the ground it makes the preceding struggle totally worth it. Any fans of sports games should check it out.

Scratching the itch
The presentation of Super Mega Baseball 2 is decidedly on the indie side. Which is fine, it is an indie game, at a lower price than most sports titles. But this means you get no licensed teams, no team management aspects, no pages and pages of stats etc etc. If you can’t live without these more realistic aspects in a sports game, you should move on now. Those who can look past this though get rewarded by an amusing sense of humour to proceedings, which means that the lack of these typical sports game staples doesn’t not make the game lesser, merely different. Super Mega Baseball 2 is a great laugh as it steadfastly refuses to take itself too seriously at any point. Whether it’s the silly team names (for example the Nemesis, the Crocodons or my personal favourite: the Overdogs!), the exaggerated cartoon-esque player models or the little animations like players sneezing or throwing their bats upon striking out, Super Mega Baseball 2 makes sure you’re having far too much fun to notice the relative lack of features. Not that there is a lack of things to do. Single player has full-length (and customisable) season and elimination modes and the online multiplayer, called the Pennant Race, is excellently built and runs just as well as offline matches.

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Grand Slam
The gameplay backs up these things solidly. Given the presentation, Super Mega Baseball 2 is surprisingly faithful to it’s sport when it comes to the gameplay. I don’t have a particularly intimate knowledge of baseball, but everything I do know is fully built-in here. Let’s look at batting, pitching and fielding in turn. Batting is much as you would expect: you have various different kinds of swings but its always a matter of timing so the key is reading each different kind of ball out of the pitcher’s hand. Particularly as you raise the difficulty level, if you want to get home-runs then picking when to swing and nailing the timing is vital. The feedback the game gives you with your batter’s movements, as well as some on-screen tips, is great for helping you dial in your timing. The single best part of the game is when you’ve been getting your timing close-but-not-quite-right and have ended up with runners at every base and then Boom! – you nail one straight out of the ground for a Grand Slam. Huge joy. The pitching and fielding parts may, naturally, lack that exhilaration but the game is still great and a pleasure to play. Pitching ultimately comes down to trying to ruin the batter’s timing by mixing up your speeds and angles as much as possible. When you do get hit into the field one of the things I really liked was that you have a separate button out of X, Y, B and A for each of the bases on the diamond. It’s simple but very effective, much like everything in Super Mega Baseball 2. All of this is wrapped into a dynamic called ‘mojo’, which is similar to form or confidence ratings in other titles. Getting hit can cause your pitcher’s mojo to fall whereas smashing home-runs will causes your batters mojo to rise. These changes have an effect on the player’s stats and on their stamina. What’s really interesting is that they each carry their mojo over a period of time. If your starting pitcher gets hit a lot in one game, they will probably not be able to start the next one, or if a batter has a bad run you might need to drop them down the order whilst they pick up their confidence. It’s an interesting system that helps stop each match feeling the same.

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Strike
There are some parts that miss the mark, for me. Most obvious is the auto-catching in the field. Whether it’s you or the opposition that hits the ball in the air, once you know it is going to be caught, the game almost stops whilst the ball comes down. Some kind of catching meter, or at least a timed button-press, would be straight forward and make a huge difference. Although I was happy to have every catch for my players guaranteed, it is annoying when you have hit it high in the air and have to wait 2 or 3 seconds to inevitably be out. I also didn’t enjoy the difficulty settings. In Super Mega Baseball 2 it’s called ‘ego’, and you set it out of 99. I imagine most of the time small changes, between say 30 and 35, don’t make a significant difference but I did find that it’s clearly not that smooth. Playing with an ego level of 40 or less I would absolutely dominate the opposition, whereas as soon as I moved it up to 45, I would really struggle. It wasn’t necessarily the difference between winning and losing but it was certainly the difference between being out of sight by the end of the 1st inning or having the game still in the balance in the 9th. It’s a shame but not a showstopper – I ended up just playing online  primarily instead.

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Conclusion
For any baseball fan who doesn’t need all the real life players, stats etc, Super Mega Baseball 2 is a must play. For sports fans in general it is well worth a look as the gameplay is great and keeps you wanting more. With all of this you get a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humour to keep the smile on your face! Good fun.Review3

Mini-Review of a Mini-Game: Florence

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Android
  • Also available on: iOS
  • Time to get into: 10 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 45 Minutes
  • Multiplayer: No

I will keep this review nice and short to match the game I’m writing about: Florence. It’s an enchanting mobile game that tells a story very effectively in around 45 minutes. Told through cut scenes and various puzzles, you walk though a period in the life of Florence Yeoh and her relationship with someone she meets: Krish. Whilst there’s isn’t really any challenge to the game it does a few ingenious things I’ve not come across before in games and it thus worth experiencing for anyone who loves narrative games.screenshot_20180502-133428.png

What I liked about it
In literal terms, most of your time in Florence is spent pressing and swiping on your phone screen – nothing new or difficult there. What pulls you into Florence’s world is how well the developer, Mountains, has matched up these presses and swipes with the activities, events and feelings that Florence is going through. These range from the obvious – swipe back and forth to brush your teeth – to new and creative mechanics like completing simple jigsaw puzzles in order to say the right things on a first date. I don’t think there are any missed steps here – the harmony between your inputs and your character’s experience is always intuitive and always just right. My favourite part of Florence was something I’ve not seen before in games; there’s a point when, in order to move on, you have to not play the game! And that (lack of) input fits perfectly with what Florence is going through. Time and time again I found myself smiling at the way the game manages to describe Florence’s emotions with subtlety and flair.screenshot_20180502-181531.png

What I didn’t like about it
There’s not much to specifically not like about Florence. The ending is slightly rushed. As a result I wasn’t quite ready for it and was left with some frustration about the way the story goes. It’s insistence on taking you back to a menu screen in between each chapter seemed odd too and pulled me out of the story too much. Otherwise the only things I would mention as drawbacks are really to do with how it is set up. It is altogether too short – whilst I’m glad it didn’t outstay it’s welcome I arrived at the end just as I was really enjoying playing. Lastly, there will be those put off by the lack of challenging game play. I’m not entirely of that opinion at all, but I do think there is more room in these sort of ‘interactive novel’ games for a higher degree of difficulty. It’s not necessary for what Florence is trying to be, but it holds the game back from real greatness.screenshot_20180503-090810.png

Conclusion
For all it’s simplicity, there are parts of Florence the like of which I’ve not found in a game ever before and that alone makes it worth playing. You’ll also find a charming and intuitive game that puts a smile on your face. If only it lasted a bit longer!Review3

REVIEW: The American Dream

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: PSVR
  • Also available on: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
  • Time to get into: 10 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 4 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

The American Dream is an on-rails VR shooter with a huge dose of satire. In fact it would probably be more accurate to describe it as a satirical take on American gun culture, built into a video game. Whilst this does kind of work to begin with, unfortunately the game outstays it’s welcome and then completely jumps the shark on it’s way out. Somewhere in here there is an entertaining game, but you have to wade through too much superfluent stuff to find it.The American Dream_20180427132658

With guns, you can achieve anything
Within the game ‘The American Dream‘ is a theme park ride taking you through the life of an ‘American Patriot’ and showing you how guns are the solution for everything. Cleaning up stuff in a teenager’s room? Shoot it. Catching a football? Shoot it? Eating food at a restaurant? Shoot it. You get the picture! Mixed in with the gameplay is a commentary on the ride, given to you by a dog. That’s right. He encourages you to shoot everything and waxes lyrical about how wonderful the life of Americans is because they have guns. For example, apparently Americans have the best beer in the world: ‘expect maybe in Australia, but they banned guns there, so they can go get ******!‘ If this all sounds properly weird; it is. I wonder if it is clearer to those playing the game in the USA (let me know in the comments below!) but as an outsider I am not sure if the developer, Samurai Punk, is trying to make an actual political and social commentary here or if it is all purely for laughs. Either way, early on it is very funny but it starts to drag from about halfway. The basic point – ‘with guns, you can achieve anything‘ – has been well and truly made by then. But then, here in the UK we have also banned guns, so I guess we can ‘go get ********’ too.

Technically average
Unfortunately, the gameplay itself is also in the interesting-to-begin-with-but-quickly-gets-tired category. This is the third gun-toting game I’ve played on PSVR, after London Heist and Super Hot, and it is the worst mechanically. It lacks the substance of using the guns in London Heist but doesn’t replace it with anything like the style of Super Hot. The actual VR isn’t as good either: The American Dream doesn’t track your movements with quite the same accuracy which destroys the illusion that you  are actually holding these weapons in your hands. It’s certainly not terrible or unplayable but it’s not ideal.The American Dream_20180427165758

Left shark
After you’ve fought through the story and the gameplay to reach the final quarter of the game, The American Dream completely goes off the deep end. I will, as always here, avoid story spoilers (in case I’m not sufficiently putting you off playing it!) but let’s just say that the final part of the game is even weirder and unhinged than the rest. It’s a confusing and disappointing close to the game.The American Dream_20180427145353

Conclusion
Somewhere inside The American Dream is a decent two hour VR shooter with a sideline in satirical social commentary. Unfortunately, this brings with it average gameplay, repetitive and slow moving levels and a nonsensical ending. Look elsewhere, patriots!Review2

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REVIEW: State of Decay 2

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Xbox One
  • Also available on: PC
  • Time to get into: 2 Hour
  • Time to complete: 53 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, 4-player online co-op

State of Decay 2 is an absolute melting pot of ideas and things to do. From destroying zombies to collecting resources to assisting other survivors there is always a huge amount of things to do and a myriad of different ways to do them. Somehow it all holds together, each aspect balanced against the rest in perfect harmony; a harmony that you must look to replicate as you play, by achieving enough of your goals without ignoring any of them. State of Decay 2 is more than just a survival sim – it will take over your life as you work to first keep your community alive and to eventually flourish. And cave in a few zombie heads on the journey!

Decisions, decisions
The basic premise of State of Decay 2 is very simple: there has been a zombie outbreak that has ruined the world, how will you survive? From there, everything you do to keep your community going is really up to you. From the small moments; like focusing on ranged or melee weapons, all the way up to decisions about how you want to lead people; with an iron fist or in collaboration, Undead Labs has built this game to give you agency over how it plays out. Other than one issue (which I will come back to later) I really felt like everything I did, or did not do, in State of Decay 2 was having a genuine effect on the world around me. Equally though, it would be completely fine to just play your entire way through just doing what the game suggests to you. Like everything else here, there is a fine balance at work: your actions will have enough effect on your world to make you feel they have meaning but at the same time you are gently being led towards resolution. That is exactly what great open-world gameplay should be like.08-06-2018_22-02-42

A life less ordinary
The world in which you play out this survival-life is richly populated with diverse enemies, quests and problems. The combination of survival and exploration, of night and day, of attack and defence means State of Decay 2 becomes so many games in one. Yet again, it’s on you to keep these things in balance. Spend too much time exploring the world and your community will start to starve, but if you don’t explore at all you will still run out of resources pretty quickly. The same goes for night and day: night time requires your caution but play with that same caution in the day and you’re just burning daylight. Living life as a survivor in this zombie-infested world is a constant stream of tiny battles. Clear out a zombie infestation, search a house for resources, learn new skills, upgrade your base, help out another community of survivors, defend your base from a zombie attack, explore a new area, buy and sell with a wandering trader…. Moreover, all of this feels really good too. Smashing a melee weapon into a zombie’s skull is pleasingly brutal, gunplay is solid and getting around is easy enough once you’ve found some reliable vehicles. Even things that are a bit of a drag, like searching for resources or upgrading different facilities around your base feel right – like these are things that should take time in this fallen world. All of these individual aspects come together to create something much greater than it’s parts.08-06-2018_21-54-51

Zombie Factory
I mentioned above one thing that slightly spoiled the sense of actions having an effect on the game world. Quite simply: where do the zombies come from?! I destroyed about 4,000 zombies in my playthrough, despite hardly bothering to late on. And yet, there were always more. Of course, I get it that State of Decay 2 needs to populate itself with zombies to give your activities some risk, and I didn’t have a problem with it from a gameplay perspective. But there is no attempt made to explain where the constant supply comes from and so I was left with this one aspect where it didn’t seem to matter what I did – after all, not killing them did not increase their numbers, just the same as doing so did not decrease them.

It’s worth a quick note to mention glitches. I commented in my first impressions that I had seen none of the glitches that were all anyone could seem to talk about prior to State of Decay 2‘s release. The same can mostly be said after the entire 53 hours it took me to complete my first playthrough. I once got stuck in a box for about 2 minutes (see the character, Oscar, struggle and finally get out in the video above!) but that was it. Otherwise, I found that, if travelling quickly in a car, zombies did tend to appear out of no where in front of me a lot but this wasn’t ever a game-breaking issue. I have not had a chance to play online co-op, as none of my online friends have picked up this game, so perhaps the problems are more prevalent there, but don’t let this issue stop you playing State of Decay 2.08-06-2018_22-18-51

Conclusion
This is a brilliant game that manages to go far beyond it’s basic parts of survival, zombies and the like. State of Decay 2 gives you a life to live and the tools to live it out as you wish. There is always a long list of interesting and enjoyable things to do and achieve as you work to a satisfying conclusion for your community. For anyone who loves survival games, open-world adventures or even just flattening zombies by the thousand, I cannot recommend State of Decay 2 enough.

Review5

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REVIEW: Super Mario Odyssey

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: –
  • Time to get into: 30 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 10 Hours
  • Multiplayer: not really, although there are some features

Super Mario Odyssey is a celebration of all things Mario! It’s a joyful and wondrous ride that manages to encapsulate everything that we love about the old plumber whilst at the same time giving him an almost limitless amount of new things to do. The basic platforming gameplay is probably the most rock solid ever created and the levels range from good to great with no misses. In fact, for me it includes the best level in gaming ever! It’s not perfect and it’s over far too soon but if you have any love of gaming at all you have to play Odyssey – it’s exciting, enchanting and euphoric.2018040408335100-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

Gameplay – refined and maybe defined
Nintendo‘s first proper Mario adventure on the Switch is an absolute triumph of gameplay design. I remember saying when I (finally) played Super Mario Galaxy last year that Nintendo had focused almost entirely on the fun, varied gameplay mechanics. Well, in Odyssey, they have taken that even further: I think this might be the best platforming ever created from a technical standpoint. Everything Mario does just feels so right, so precise. Which means in turn that you can play the game confidently and thus enjoy the truly ridiculous number of abilities available to you. Sure, we have the Mario standards like jumping and ground pounding but everything is taken up a notch by the introduction of Cappy. More on him from a story perspective later but for gameplay this means throwing your hat about the place. Not only does this open up additional abilities for Mario like collecting coins you can’t reach with a quick hat throw but also Super Mario Odyssey‘s main new gameplay feature: being able to use Cappy to become anyone and anything. Want to stop worrying about holding you breath under water? Throw your hat at a Cheep Cheep and then you can swim about to your hearts content. Or throw it at a Bullet Bill to be able to travel quickly over big gaps. The possibilities are more or less endless, including a few chances to be a T-Rex! Nintendo have done an amazing job, through a combination of intuitive controls and helpful but unobtrusive on-screen tips, of making sure that this neverending arsenal and abilities never gets overwhelming. 99% of the time it was immediately clear to me what I had to do. I expect that Nintendo will, at some point in the future, prove that platforming can be improved but right now I cannot imagine how!2018040618021500-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

Story, characters and levels
Wedded to this, everything that Odyssey puts around the gameplay is as fresh and interesting as it has been in any Mario game since Super Mario Sunshine. But whilst the FLUDD and everything else they tried to do there arguably fell a bit flat, the levels you play through here are fantastic. A review isn’t enough space to even go into everything I love about just the best one: Metro Kingdom, aka New Donk City, so I’ll try and summarise across Super Mario Odyssey as a whole. Whilst it’s still the traditional Bowser-kidnaps-Peach story from every Mario game ever, there are a few aspects here that actually made me pay attention. The wedding, the introduction of Cappy as a companion character fighting the same fight alongside you and some other twists I won’t give away all add up to make this as fresh as a Mario story has been in years. Bowser has his usual minions trying to get in your way – this time they are the ‘Broodals‘ – but they are fairly nondescript. But there are plenty of characters you meet on your journey through each level that brighten the game. All of the levels are great too: after the constant stream of small new levels in the Galaxy games, it’s a nice change on pace to have a few, much larger levels with huge amounts to do and discover. It can’t be considered an open-world game but there has been plenty of influence from such games in the level design and it works wonderfully.2018040413405000-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

But not perfect
So if Super Mario Odyssey has class-leading gameplay and best-ever Mario story line and levels, what can possibly be wrong with it?! For me, there are 2 aspects that hold it back. Firstly, it’s just too easy. This has actually been great for The Boy – more on his experiences with the game later. However, I breezed through it with barely a stutter. It wasn’t until the final couple of world’s facing the most difficult challenges and bosses that I felt I really had to try at all. Perhaps it if it was harder it would lose some of it’s joyful carefree abandon but I am not convinced they have the balance right. Secondly, it’s over too soon. Sure, there is plenty of post-game content – I’ll discuss this more in the next paragraph – but playing through the main game at a reasonable pace I completed it in only 10 hours. Whilst I didn’t spend ages doing ‘unnecessary’ things, neither did I rush at all – I totally enjoyed those hours. I just wish there were more of them before the credits roll.2018041913583400-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

Post-credits
After the credits roll, you open up a huge amount of new content. Suddenly there are more power moons everywhere and the Mushroom Kingdom opens up to play in. For me, this all felt a bit after-the-fact. There’s just not enough reason to keep playing. I tried to go on for about another hour but I felt I needed more direction to maintain enough interest. I was going to criticise the game for this but then The Boy reached the end… and went on… and on… and on! He loves this game so much and he has had an amazing time with this additional content. Searching for moons is an end in itself for him and Super Mario Odyssey is an amazing playground for him to look for them. This is officially now his favourite game ever and a huge part of that is the freedom to just do whatever he wants in the quest for all the moons. You also get a huge ton of customisation for Mario with different clothes, hats and other bits. Odyssey really does reward it’s fans with a lot of content to get stuck into.

Conclusion
Whether or not the post-credits content captures your imagination you’ll find more than enough fantastic gameplay here to justify the asking price. Playing Super Mario Odyssey is just a stream of joy, wonder and delight! It’s the ultimate Mario experience and one of the best games of it’s type ever made. Enjoy!Review5

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REVIEW: Trials Fusion

  • Released: 2014
  • Played on: Xbox One
  • Also available on: PC, Xbox 360, PS4
  • Time to get into: 30 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 8 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local and online

The best moments of Trials Fusion are when you perfectly nail the landing of a small jump and accelerate hard into a huge subsequent leap into the sky. Soaring above the track you are racing on, your rider seems to briefly pause in mid-air before screaming out as they fall back down to earth – AAAGGGHHH! Trials Fusion is an exhilarating and immediate game that turns out to be surprisingly deep and varied. Despite a few flaws, it will keep you coming back for quite a while.10-02-2018_22-39-21

Full to the brim
The Boy and I have been playing this game for months and months, since it was one of the Xbox Live Games With Gold in August 2017. But it had only ever been that – a game that we played for fun. Earlier this year, however, I decided to tackle the single player game and see what the other various modes had to offer. It has an impressive array of options, features and modes that rival much more expensive packages. I had not played a Trials game before this, so I can’t comment on how the series has evolved up to this point, or whether all of these features were available at launch. It seems clear, however, that Fusion does one thing very very well, whilst the rest of it has been bolted on, to varying degrees of success.26-02-2018_23-10-32

Balance
What it does so well is a unique type of racing that I have not come across exactly in other games. In terms of steering, your bike is on rails – you cannot turn left or right. This seems odd to begin with but in fact allows you to focus on the real key – perfect balance. The left stick, instead of steering left and right, allows you to push your rider’s weight forward or back. Without doing so, they will tip over and crash pretty quickly but the more you play the more you realise how well nuanced this mechanic is. Your ultimate speed is linked to accelerating your bike, of course, but it’s having your weight in the right place as much as possible that will be the difference between a bronze medal and a gold medal in single player, between competing online or simply being left in your competitor’s dust. Once you have picked up this basic idea, Trials Fusion has a multitude of places for you to use your skills. The single player game is lengthy and varied. You can play multiplayer, locally as we do, or online. In addition there is a track-builder where you can design your own tracks and upload them for others to try out. There are a dizzying amount of options in this creative tool – it feels much like it’s own game in many ways. Countless hours could be lost trying to perfect your designs.23-02-2018_07-25-14

Flaws
Trials Fusion does have a few flaws. There is a whole point-scoring tricks dynamic to parts of the game. You move the right stick in certain directions to have your rider perform tricks during jumps. It’s fun, but is implemented a bit vaguely, making it hard to pin down exactly which tricks you are trying to nail. It feels like the beginnings of an idea that might be perfected in a sequel. Also, Fusion does get very difficult towards the end of the single player. Of course, challenge isn’t a flaw in and of itself, but what both that and the tricks do is make the game more intricate. Thus it looses something of the out-of-control exhilaration that makes the game so immediately enjoyable early on. The harder levels and targets force you to maintain tighter control of your bike but don’t replace the wild abandon with anything else – it almost turns into a puzzle game late on. Not bad gameplay, but not what Trials is all about.10-02-2018_22-39-23

Conclusion
Trials Fusion is not perfect but for the price it is great value for money – with the multitude of different things to get your teeth into you get plenty of opportunity to enjoy the pick-up-and-play nature of the basic game. Recommended for anyone who enjoys arcade racing and/or extreme sports games. You’ll be shouting out ‘WOAH!’ along with your character, as you plummet back down from a huge jump, in no time!

Review3

Click here to purchase the game on disc for Xbox One from Amazon.co.uk:
Click here to purchase the game on disc for PS4 from Amazon.co.uk:
Click here to purchase a download key for game on PC from CDKeys.com: