RedLynx’ vehicle-based physics racer/platformer series Trials is almost ten years old, and re-launching with Trials Rising. It’s out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch – marking the first time it’s available on a Nintendo platform. We playtested the game on a PS4 – here’s our review.
Trials Rising is also the first entry in the series that was designed from the ground up exclusively for the current series of consoles – Fusion was also available on the Xbox 360. But what strikes me the most about Trials is that, despite its age and the relative simplicity of its format, no one else has really come close. The Joe Danger and Pumped BMX series were fun, but it’s always been Trials that I kept going back to. Trials Fusion, along with its season pass, stayed installed on my PS4 for over two years – and I suspect that Rising will “suffer” the same fate.
The main reason for that is that, at its core, Trials Rising is still the Trials that we know and love. It’s instantly familiar, but upon further inspection there are also a few key differences with the previous game. Gone are the backdrops that emphasize sci-fi and fantasy settings, as the action plays out in often easily recognizable settings on earth. There’s also a smaller role for mid-air stunts this time around – those are mainly reserved for mini-games where they serve a different purpose (they remind me of Flatout 2 as well as some of Fusions’s levels).
These changes seem to indicate that the developer didn’t want to take Trials into an even crazier direction after Fusion – which could be pretty “out there” at times. I suppose that’s a smart decision, as “upping the crazy” would have meant drifting further away from the series’ core – which is all about precise controls rather than letting a zero gravity field take over for a bit.
That doesn’t mean that RedLynx took a bare bones approach this time around – its levels are plentiful and most are filled to the brim with set pieces and a ton of stuff that’s happening in the background. Making good use of the power of the current console generation, Trials Rising is fun to watch even when you’re not the one playing. Performance-wise, things ran smoothly on a Playstation 4 Pro though I’ve heard mixed results regarding vanilla PS4s. There are also long-ish loading times for each level, but if you enjoy attempting each level multiple times to shave time off your score or go for bonus objectives, then a restart is still instantaneous.
As you level up, you also gain access to cosmetic items – some of which are also locked behind a paywall. I’m pretty far removed from the target audience when it comes to cosmetic items in games, but did feel a little miffed about a few optional objectives in levels also being locked behind such a structure (where you use Ubi Club points to get them).
Much of what made Trials Fusion so much fun is still here – a steadily growing difficulty level where even the toughest stages walk a fine line between challenge and frustration being one of them. Trials has also been great at that magic “one more level” feel, and Rising captures it once again. Multiplayer is also supported again, both online and offline – though cooperative play on a tandem bike is a new mode. It’s great fun, but also an extremely challenging way to race that will demand advanced cooperation in order to succeed. Besides cooperation, competition is also heavily encouraged – with online leaderboard times (from your friends and strangers) taunting you to do better at all times.
While Trials Rising doesn’t feel radically different from what RedLynx did with Trials Fusion, it does capture what made the series great and doesn’t break the formula by taking unnecessary risks. They played it relatively safe, but that does mean it’s a warm welcome to fans of the series.