Trials Evolution is the sort of game that grips you. It doesn’t just exist on a television screen, passing a few hours here and there. It takes over your daydreams and invades your thought processes in your everyday life. It’s compelling, addictive and engrossing. It’s also purposefully frustrating.
Some jumps look impossible but it's all about the bunny hop.
It’s important to recognise just how intricate the degree of control is in Trials Evolution. Many games get by on their immersive worlds, gripping narrative or spectacular visuals. Trials exists on its shades of control. Learning to perfectly time your rider’s leaning will shave seconds off your times, enable you to span gaps which seemed impossible and generally make the environment much more navigable.
Each track is timed and your faults – after which you can reset to one of the numerous checkpoints on each track – are counted. You’re awarded medals of bronze, silver or gold depending on how well you compete. Bronze medals simply require that you finish the track, which in itself can be difficult enough. Silver and gold medals require a limited number of faults and a certain time constraint. The real driving force, though, is your friends list and leader boards.
Completing early sets of tracks will unlock more difficult sets. As you might expect, this gets progressively more difficult as you work through them but it never feels impossible. The finesse of control required grows with your ability and experience of the game and although there are a couple of difficulty spikes, it’s nothing that is insurmountable and success is sufficiently rewarding that you’ll likely feel the rush of relief after the frustrations of learning the necessary tricks.
Playing through the unlockable Tournaments sees you face several tracks with a goal of beating an overall time and number of faults across all tracks in the tournament. So you could be perfect through three tracks and have a fault on the last obstacle of your fourth and final track, turning your hard fought gold medal into a silver.
In addition to a fairly large selection of Trials tracks and collected Tournaments to work through on your own, there are multiplayer modes based around racing up to three other players over multiple heats and tracks to score points or challenging ghosts on traditional Trials tracks of varying difficulty.
It's odd, given the focussed mechanics, but environments can be quite varied.
Those are the more normal events. Some of the more peculiar events see you piloting a UFO, swinging your rider from trapezes and playing through a Trials tribute to ‘Splosion Man in which you emulate the combustible platformer by tapping the A button to ‘splode and navigate a dangerous environment.
Trials also has a gargantuan level editor which is already throwing up some incredibly imaginative user generated content. Basically, you can, with a little practice and expertise, build anything that’s in the game. People have already made huge jumps, long mountainous traversals and recreations of AMA motorcross tracks, as well as some more peculiar experiments like the example from the developers – an homage to Angry Birds.
- Exceptionally good level design.
- Gameplay unlike anything else.
- Plenty of content and a fantastic level editor.
- It will test your patience, severely.
Trials Evolution is not only one of the best downloadable games of the year so far, it’s one of the best games on any platform so far this year. One or two level design choices feel a little bit cheap — there’s a sewage plant one that often faults you through no fault of your own — but on the whole, it’s a masterclass in perfectly tuned level design. The utterly compelling leader board battles you’ll engage in with likeminded friends are what make this game so addictive but there’s plenty of single player content and traditional multiplayer racing too.