Ubisoft's FarCry 3: Blood Dragon introduced a world of bizarre adventures based on straight-to-video action movies of the 80s. RedLynx's Trials series gave players frantic, fast-paced motorcycle gameplay with a fun, demanding -- if not terribly realistic -- physics engine. Put them together and you have Trials of the Blood Dragon, in which two teenagers with attitude have to save the world using only their wits, sick motorcycle tricks, a grappling hook and some guns.
Getting into the action
In Trials of the Blood Dragon, the player takes on the role of Roxanne and Slayter, the children of cyber-commando Rex "Power" Colt and Doctor Darling from the original Blood Dragon game. With Rex dead and their mother missing, the kids have to swing into action to save America and the world.
This spinoff of the Trials series adds some wrinkles to the tried-and-true motorcycle gameplay, incorporating two-stick platforming sections, jetpack missions, shooting and even some stealth to keep the game feeling fresh. Naturally, the whole thing is drenched in 80s retro-futurism, with nods to Saturday morning cartoons and the Power Rangers as well as classics like Indiana Jones or Big Trouble in Little China as well as modern 80s-inspired works like Hotline Miami.
Keeping up with the Colts
Like the other Trials games, Trials of the Blood Dragon can feel punishingly difficult at first; figuring out how to control the motorcycle is largely a matter of trial and error. New players who get the hang of it will feel like real 80s action heroes, but it doesn't pay to get complacent: the game adds new mechanics frequently, meaning that the player is always learning. Probably the most notable addition is the grappling hook, which adds a whole new level of implausible (and implausibly entertaining) physics to the game. There are other, weirder twists, too, like a level in which reality warps and twists as the character undergoes a drug-induced hallucination.
Even compared to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, this game is relatively short, with no more than four hours or so of gameplay in its main campaign. However, players can repeat levels to earn better scores and unlock new costumes and secret Extreme tracks. Perhaps as a result of this short length, the non-motorcycle sections can sometimes feel merely like interludes between the meaty Trials action of the main tracks. The real thrills are definitely in the sections where the player's motorcycle (or mine cart, or remote-control car) hits the perfect jump and makes it to safety just as the track erupts in bullets, flames or radioactive monster breath behind it.
Like the first Blood Dragon game, Trials of the Blood Dragon is a retro-styled spinoff that will appeal to fans of the main series' action-packed gameplay. It isn't a game that players will return to over and over, but it should provide some colourful, fast-paced entertainment, and the over-the-top 80s aesthetic adds a layer of fuzzy neon charm. If you've ever thought that the ultimate monster-fighting weapon is obviously a dirtbike, this is the game for you.