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Difficulty can be a problematic aspect for video games. There’s always this question of how much you can punish the player before they lose interest. Are they going to have to sit through long loading screens? Will they have to start from the beginning? Will the experience be rewarding at all? All of these questions need to be answered in a way that constantly refers back to player experience. It’s all good and well to make something challenging, but you need to make the challenge enjoyable for as long as it takes to complete it, regardless of how long that may be. So in this context, the question is very simple. Is Red Lynx’s Trials Fusion fun?
It’s a secret to no-one that the Trials series can get pretty damn difficult. Whilst the games may start off very basic and easy to understand, you’ll quickly find yourself pulling off ridiculous tricks, having to press retry over 100 times and it’ll still be your personal record! Trials Fusion is no different from this and offers a challenge that will appeal to many potential players. To progress through the obstacles each course offers, you will need to control your bike on a 2D plane by leaning, accelerating and braking. If you crash by falling off the course or hitting your head on an object, you can either retry from the very beginning with a clean slate, or you can retry from a checkpoint, but it will be registered as a “fault” and you’ll lose the chance to earn certain medals. These medals are used to unlock different parts of the game. Through increasingly difficult courses, you need to combine these controls in order to make it all the way through to the goal.
When I started playing Trials Fusion, I was having a lot of fun with it. There’s this certain appeal to frustration that Trials makes full use of. After constant failures and with some determination, completing courses can feel very rewarding. Sometimes. Trials Fusion is not entertaining to replay constantly. Whilst you’re only going to have to retry a few times at the beginning, as you progress through the game, you’re going to be spending a lot more time with each course. Without the proper features to make the game dynamic and give the player more options, it can get very boring. You will be playing through the same course over and over until you get it right.
You can’t take any alternative routes, there are no secret passageways, dynamic events and nothing else that could possibly make one retry any different from the last. This made many of the courses incredibly boring and created a slow and dull player experience. There is no entertainment in riding through the exact same obstacles over and over again and the game makes no effort to try and make it any fun to play for such a length of time.
Visually, however, the game is fantastic. With only a few graphical glitches and some very occasional dodgy cinematography, each track is enjoyable to watch and the camera moves around to get some great angles. As you go through each track, obstacles will shift to reveal platforms in a seemingly dynamic fashion. Even though these can start to feel repetitive after multiple playthroughs, it really makes your first experience far more exciting.
The audio, however, doesn’t hold the same appeal. Whilst other games in the Trials franchise will go for this heavier action soundtrack, really making it seem like everything that’s going on is a part of some rad action movie. Trials Fusion goes for this light electronic soundtrack. When you’re doing flips, wheelies and tricks, you want to feel awesome. But it just doesn’t do that and it detracts from the experience greatly.
Speaking of detracting from the experience, the “plot” (and I say that in the lightest sense of the word) is just plain distracting. Two voice overs talk you through the game with several allusions as to the origins of your character. They heavily infer that every time you restart, you restart as a brand new person being created in some sort of factory. This would be a fine if maybe they would’ve made it humerous or maybe made it more prominent. But as it stands, it’s so incredibly weak and shoved in that it’s just a waste of time, dull, repetitive and most importantly, distracts from the experience as a whole.
Trials Fusion can be a fun game… in moderation. As a drop in, drop out title, it can offer a unique experience that you can’t get elsewhere. However, as you progress, it can begin to get ridiculously dull, insanely repetitive and just plain unentertaining.
This review was based on a digital copy of the game for the PC provided by Ubisoft.