Trials Rising (Switch) Review
Ah Trials. An interactive experience to discover what level of anger management you need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always incredibly fun, but part of the Trials charm is screaming “what is my bike doing” or mashing that reset button after you just can’t seem to make a certain jump. It’s a momentum based platforming game that really leans on the idea of personal improvement to get that satisfaction, and I’m happy to report it’s still very much the case here in Trials Rising.
I’m somewhere in the middle of Trials experience. I’ve played a fair bit back on the 360 and a little bit of Trials of the Blood Dragon, so I know the basics, but I am by no means an expert. So I was really happy to be greeted by a tutorial to refresh on those basics, as well as learn new techniques in the University of Trials. And while it gets the job done, the finicky button presses needed to master the moves are explained and shown in vaguer terms than I’d like. But at the same time, it’s cool seeing FatShady run the school, bringing some authentic Aussie influence into the mix.
Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll open up the world map (literally *the world*) and start unlocking new levels. And while the basic, get the best time style of gameplay is there, you’ll also start unlocking new sponsors that allow you to redo the level with a new challenge (called contracts). Each sponsor has a theme, including beating ghosts, performing a certain number of tricks, or clearing a stage with the push bike. While I’m usually iffy on reusing stages in games, the nature of Trials is getting better through practice, and these contracts are a great way of displaying to yourself your own progress and understanding of the course.
But the world map actually does offer variety in environments and courses, with just about every course introducing a specific gimmick. They’re actually introduced in a very platformer tropey way, with a basic example at the start, leading all the way to some typically ridiculous display by the end. Being launched all around the level, having buildings collapse around you, or literally jumping out a cargo plane; there’s usually always something to surprise you on your first try.
And while you will unlock different leagues in a set order, each league will plop a dozen or so different courses on you at once. You can get a rough idea of difficulty, but I found in my playthrough, the difficulty spiked and dropped almost arbitrarily. It makes it a bit hard, as you may find yourself stuck on one course for a good half an hour, and another may give you a clear first try. I’m more of a fan of a consistent difficulty ramp, but some may enjoy the curve balls the game throws at you.
On top of all the gameplay focused content, there’s also a wild assortment of customisation for your rider and bikes, to an actual ludicrous degree. There’s hundreds (maybe thousands) of stickers that can be applied to just about every different cosmetic item in the game, even if it really shouldn’t be. I feel like it really is to the point where it’s more than is actually needed, but the game isn’t all that stingy with items, loot boxes and currency to stock up on what you want.
Being able to play Trials on the go is also a plus, with the game running incredibly well in handheld mode, with snappy load times and no real hiccups that I could detect. The main graphical drawback I’ve found, is the texture quality seems to be quite blurry in both docked and handheld, but I know I’d much prefer a smooth experience over a graphically intense one. Especially because Trials has a lot of resets, so that snappy performance gets you right back in.
The one feature I wouldn’t have expected on Switch actually delivers, with the incredibly detailed track editor being included. It’s really, *really* in depth, with so, so many options that I didn’t really know where to start. You can change the environment, build just about anything out of seemingly hundreds of props and elements, and even set different tracks within the one course for different difficulties. It’s mostly beyond me, but the fact it’s here means anyone with a creative mind and a busy lifestyle can build some amazing things on the go.
And at last, the few niggly parts of the game that I’m hoping can be improved, but aren’t deal breakers. The online functionality seems very finicky, with a lot of features disabled if the Switch goes into sleep mode, requiring a manual reconnect. You’ll need that connection to load in other user’s ghosts into your game, and to open loot boxes. There’s an online multiplayer, but I couldn’t see a way to play with friends outside of directly challenging their ghost- which is much more passive than sharing an arena. There is a party mode for local multiplayer, though, as well as the “Tandem” bike that allows a second play to help (or hinder) bike control. Video capture is also disabled by default, with the option to turn it on disabling the music in the game.
Trials Rising is a great case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It’s classic Trials, the game plays much in the same way as you’re used to. The interesting thing is how they keep you coming back with user created levels, contracts, challenges and dare I say, even the cosmetics. It’s a game with so much personality, that lets everyone also inject their own into it. I’m looking forward to what the future packs bring to the game, but this is an incredibly strong foundation to build upon already.
+ Trials is still the perfect blend of frustration and fun
+ Tons of content to keep coming back to
+ Very, very customisable
-Can’t play with friends online
- Temperamental online in general
- Almost too many customisation options