Review: Trials of the Blood Dragon
Trials of the Blood Dragon is a strange game. The way it was announced by a bizarre pair of hipsters at Ubisoft’s E3 was strange. The decision to mix Far Cry Blood Dragon and the Trials series was strange (in case you don’t know much about Trials, read our review of the latest in the series Trials Fusion: Awesome Level Max Edition). And the game itself is a colorful, wacky love letter to the 90’s that mixes physics-based cycling with sidescrolling shooting.
When I say ‘love letter’ I don’t mean a romantic, poetic love letter; it’s more of a creepy, stalker-type love letter. Trials of the Blood Dragon is not subtle about its tribute to the 90’s, splicing fake commercials into its Saturday Morning cartoon-style cutscenes and flashing 90’s catchphrases on screen whenever you die. While Hotline Miami was content to just craft an aesthetic that was based on the 1980’s, Trials of the Blood Dragon just screams ‘Does anyone else remember the 90’s?!’. Speaking of Hotline Miami, one of the game’s sections is basically a mishmash of Trials and Hotline Miami, complete with watered-down versions of the tracks from Hotline Miami’s soundtrack. It feels out of place, frankly, and I’m not really sure why they went for it (maybe they got their decades mixed up). The game’s over-the-top visuals and humor can be construed as ironic, but even if you take it as irony, the game’s look and feel just don’t connect.
The obvious question is whether or not the mix works. The reason I spent so much time talking about the game’s aesthetic is because that’s what Far Cry Blood Dragon contributed, for the most part. In terms of gameplay, it’s a Trials game with a few extra modes. The core gameplay involves navigating 2.5D courses, and your job is to ride through them and keep your rider and bike upright. There are also sidescrolling action sections, and these are pretty bland for the most part. The platforming physics are pretty clunky, and aside from some clever enemy design, there’s nothing special going on. You occasionally get to pilot other vehicles, and this alternates between being fun and being irritating.
Later in the game, the classic Trials gameplay is remixed, and you get the ability to shoot enemies and grapple through courses mixed in. This works with varying success, and it’s probably one of the more interesting things the game does. Additionally, there are various challenge levels where the course changes and mutates, and this is probably one of the coolest ways the game riffs on Trials’ challenging gameplay.
For the most part, Trials of the Blood Dragon feels like a mod of the original Trials games. It puts a new spin on a classic formula, but it feels like it could have worked just as well as a DLC for Trials Fusion. Fans of the Trials games won’t really enjoy the sidescrolling sections (I can’t think of many people that will, come to think of it) and people who don’t typically go for Trials games will still have a hard time with this one. In the end, Trials of the Blood Dragon really is reminiscent of the 90’s: it reminds me of all those cartoon crossovers that sounded fun on paper but ended up being dismissed as cash-ins.
Trials of the Blood Dragon was reviewed using a PC and Xbox One downloadable code of the game provided by Ubisoft. The game is also available on PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published.
• Classic Trials gameplay
• Lively backgrounds
• Varied gameplay
• Different vehicles to pilot
• 90’s theme feels forced
• Writing and voice acting felt too clunky
• Clunky platforming sections