Review: Trials of the Blood Dragon (Xbox One)
Crossover titles are nothing new. Even in the early 90’s titles like Battletoads & Double Dragon were blending themes and released to excited fans. In most instances these crossovers are a whacky non-linear take on the differing franchises and development studios. Not so with Trials of the Blood Dragon.
Trials of the Blood Dragon is a game that feeds off the ludicrously of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and ties itself together with the mechanics of the Trials series. It trully is a unique concept. A little crazy but unique nevertheless. The story takes place after the events of Blood Dragon’s, seeing Rex “Power” Colt as a retired war veteran along with his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Darling. Their two children, Slayter and Roxanne are know-it-all teens who aspire to follow in their dad’s footsteps. This is about the most normal thing about the game and it all goes off the rails after the opening five minutes… and it’s fantastic.
Where worlds collide
At first things look vaguely familiar. The way you would remember them from the Trials series… just add a few exploding helicopters while navigating through Vietnam War 4. Okay the setting isn’t at all what you would expect from Trials. The racing/platforming mechanics however are ever present. You maneuver your trick bike over numerous terrains landing absolutely absurd gaps before reaching one of the abundant check points. If you have yet to play a Trials game the initial feeling might be somewhat overwhelming. If you’re familiar with the franchise it’ll feel like Trials that forgot to take its medication. If you are a fan of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, it will feel like that familiar trip into a drug induced hallucination/nightmare. You quickly swap your bike for a Blood Dragon-themed platforming section where you crouch, jump and push your way through obstacles, none of which are overly difficult. You aim and shoot using the right analogue stick while dodging enemy attacks.
Off to a good start
Up until this point the two clearly differing genres of racing and platforming feel fairly self-contained. This rapidly changes as you need to integrate the two mechanics in the upcoming levels. Blast enemies, swing across gaps using a grappling hook and disable security systems all while trying to land that crucial landing on your bike. Later levels even include jet packs and remote control vehicles that navigates through vertical vents. It sounds crazy because it is very crazy. At the same time, it eases you into things gently making a good first impression. Unfortunately, it’s a first impression like that of a dodgy balding man serving ice cream from an old panel van.
The issue comes in on the later levels. They are just plain frustrating. Not difficult, just frustrating. The checkpoints are all over the place and your main aim is to finish the level in the quickest time possible in order to obtain that elusive A+ ranking. It’s often a case of ‘easy when you know how’. The integration of the tried and tested Trials formula and general platforming more often than not just breaks the pace of the game. It’s a superb concept but it could have been implemented more smoothly. If you’re a hardcore completionist this won’t put you off as much but if you’re looking at playing the game as a quick run through prepare to get a few grey hairs.
Don’t make me bleed my own blood
Even with its faults the game manages to hold up a fun story with some great bits of humour. Look out for blatant references to Big Trouble In Little China, Indiana Jones and the Power Rangers as well as other not so obvious ones. Trials of the Blood Dragon is a love letter to 80’s and early 90’s retro B-grade pieced together with decent, time demanding gameplay for perfectionists. It isn’t perfect but with plenty unlockables, secrets and some punishing time trials it will keep you more than occupied. If you’re willing to put in the time Trials of the Blood Dragon can be very rewarding even if the initial campaign is more on the short side.