“…leagues ahead of its series’ history.”
No game does over-the-top action quite like Trials. Grounded, albeit loosely, in reality yet nonsensical and action-packed enough to cater to your desire for suspension of disbelief, Trials Rising is the latest instalment in the Trials franchise, brought to your sofa by the illustrious Ubisoft.
Motocross-inspired but certainly not limited to the constraints of the real-world sport, Trials Rising is perhaps most easily described to newcomers as a physics-based ragdoll-on-a-bike simulator. The premise of the game is simple; you need to get from A to B, passing checkpoints as you go, by expertly balancing out your jumps, flips and landings across a series of challenging courses. It is the execution of this premise that makes Trials Rising more than just a souped-up Line Rider. Taking you on a grand tour across the world, Trials Rising is wild; explosive; dynamic; extreme! This isn’t your average smooth-sailing, side-scrolling, vehicular joy-ride to the finish line. In Trials Rising, the world around you is constantly changing and challenging you to fail. Hard. Despite this, the game feels delightfully welcoming, all thanks to its expert design and red-carpet reception…
When you jump into Trials, the game does everything it can to show you the ropes before it sets you on a path to frequent and spectacular failure. The Trials 101 series quickly helps you get to grips with both the simple controls of the game and the physics of its world. From the simple stuff like accelerating and jumping to the trickier feats such as landing on a vertical surface, Trials 101 is a fantastic execution of a game tutorial, with plenty of instruction but no stop-start mentality as you might find elsewhere. All of the techniques in Trials Rising can be executed with just the analogue stick and two buttons (for accelerating and braking), too, which makes it a very easy pick-up-and-play game, even for your non-gaming friends. The developers have truly done all of the work so that you don’t have to.
What is clear in Trials Rising, especially compared to its predecessors, is that the development team decided early-on that this game needed to be more dynamic than anything they had done before. That meant not only designing distinctly different stages with a huge variety of scenery and obstacles to overcome, but also making sure that every stage was an experience and that the player feels a part of it. Clean graphics have helped facilitate this feeling in Rising, but quick, edgy camera angles and the introduction of interactive moving parts in each map have really pumped up the immersion factor which this game offers players. Different countries have distinctly different feeling maps, suited to their unique cultures, and every map feels hugely different to the last. It is easy to sit down with Trials Rising for hours and not notice a hint of repetition. This puts the game leagues ahead of its series’ history. Combine that with a good dose of punk, rock and metal in the background, and every minute you play keeps the adrenaline pumping.
Variety seems to have been another focus in the Trials Rising development office. Rather than simply handing you a number of plain and simple races to complete, different sponsors from around the world will offer you contracts to compete in the game in different ways. For example, early on in the game a sponsorship deal will task you with performing as many tricks as you can on a map, rather than reaching the finish line first. As with the map variety, this helps avert any sense of repletion, and also allows you to compete in the types of challenges that you feel like playing. Global and local leaderboards will also help more competitive players to pursue the reputation and recognition they desire, whilst a map creator offer the creative audience the chance to make the game their own. Perhaps the most wild move by the team, however, is the introduction of the Tandem bike; evolving the couch co-op option forever! If you don’t fancy thrashing your loved ones stage after stage until they leave you, the Tandem bicycle answers the question “What if we could both control half of the same bike at the same time?” Nobody was asking, of course, but the answer is, arguable, the most fun you can have in Trials Rising. Truly, for me, this is the absolute highlight of the game!
You can truly play the game in any way you want, and what’s more, you can play the game in style. Customisation is the last notable mention from me in this review, and unlike many other recent titles, in Trials Rising this doesn’t feel like a gimmick. I have never truly been on board with the “letting players express themselves” rhetoric; that is, until now. In such an over-the-top game with an out-of-this-world attitude, the ability to step up and drive in fully customisable (in my case, bright neon rainbow) outfits completes the feeling that this game is yours, and that you should have fun with it. Alas, it has opened the door for paid loot to enter the mix, which will undoubtedly be a game breaker for some would-be players, but unlike other titles this side of the game never feels forced down your throat. Even this element fits into the theme of choice, and honestly, I felt ok with it. Earning different outfits and decals to customise them with feels consistently exciting every time you level up; and with possibilities like boxing gloves and samurai helms in the mix, the possibilities feel genuinely endless. Just when you thought the game couldn’t get “more crazy”, a new jacket for your character will remind you just how wrong you are.
Trials Rising is a genuinely fun game that feels like it has been designed to be both wild and welcoming. I would struggle to suggest a category of player who would not enjoy this game on some level; and it this day and age that is rare. If you like fun, then this game is for you. If you like challenge, you might even find it impossible to put down. Be prepared to fall before you can rise (sorry), but trust that Trials Rising will pick you up as quickly as it will push you. Just try not to rage too hard!
Trials Rising is available on Xbox One, PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch
Review code supplied by Ubisoft