June 22, 2016

Trials of the Blood Dragon - Review

It has become a bit of a trend to debut game at E3, that people have no idea about and then to say it’s out now, with the latest being Trials of the Blood Dragon. How does this fusion between the Trials series and the Blood Dragon theme pan out?

First of all, Trials now has a proper story, you take control of the Colt twins, Roxy and Slayter as they help the USA take down the Vietnam Communist Army, which has taken over a lot of Asia. Their first mission sees them head behind enemy lines to destroy the power facility of the army and release a blood dragon from captivity and things just get crazier from there. You get to play as both Roxy and Slay, but neither really has a chance to grow, their roles are established in the opening cinematic and they never stray too far from them. The situations that they find themselves in just get more and more absurd and fit wonderfully within the Blood Dragon style of game.

Sadly, the gameplay does not work so well, which is a real shame. The times when you are on your bike are near perfect, which is to be expected from RedLynx, they have mastered the bike controls ages ago, however there are times when you can use a grappling hook to swing across larger gaps and gain more air and that mechanic just does not work right. When you launch off a jump and then have to use the grappling hook, you just need to push the right stick in the direction you want it to go, if you miss the point, you can either fall to your death or try at the last minute to connect the grapple again, which almost always results in the line being way to long and you smacking into a wall, which kills you.

The times in which you need to use it are also frustrating, but they are still not the worst part, there are a few instances when you swap out your bike for a jetpack, which sounds amazing in theory, but the way that the controls work, I spent more time bouncing off walls, or as one track was filled with deadly laser grids, flying through those. I give credit to the developers for attempting something different, but here it did not work, what makes it worse is that both the grappling hook and jetpack are not the worst offenders, that comes when you step off the bike and go for a run. Moving about on foot is pretty easy, move the stick and off you go, the problem comes with jumping and once you jump how you are pretty much stuck in whatever direction you jumped towards. Once you are in the air, you have no control, which is a pain, but when you couple that with enemies that shoot at you and ones that you need to shoot at, it can become even worse. The only time it really and I mean really made me angry was when I had to out run a wall of saw blades coming at me, attempting to power run through a section like that was just so difficult and not because of the layout, but because of how floaty you are on foot.

What the game manages to do very well is actually blend the trials and blood dragon designs really well, trials have had a quite a few art styles over the years, so getting that to match blood dragon is a nice win for them. The levels themselves keep their distinctive trials look, which is nice, with the ramps, jumps and such, but with the background elements of the blood dragon series, they seem to feel crazier than before. Of course, blood dragon has a thematic element all of its own and here it clicks with the trials world far better than you might think, the over the top blood dragon looks just work here. Between each of the levels, you can spend time back in your base, which is plastered with 80’s themed posters, which lead to missions, a radio and more, each of the items feel like it could exist, but even better than that the load times are masked by these crazy infomercials, which promote some very exciting products. Even small touches, like the old crt tv warp effect at the start of the levels helps bring forth that blood dragon touch.

Perhaps the one thing I could not get into were the voices behind the teens, they were very typical I am great kid voices and every time you restart a level, the same audio plays over and over, so they tended to become gnawing pretty quickly. The music itself is pretty catchy and does deliver a serious dose of 80’s vibe and if you find a track you like, you can listen to it in the base.

Trials of the Blood Dragon is a game that has taken a lot of risks, it changes up the known trials formula and while the additions do not meet the same level of fun that the biking aspect does, I give them credit for trying. When you add the blood dragon theme to the mix, the game becomes this spectacle of insane everything and provides quite a few laughs.

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