Not many games describe the core of their gameplay experience in the title itself. For example, if Call of Duty did that, it would be named “Get called faggot by a 10 year-old American online” instead. But Trials does. It’s a game about trying, or rather, retrying. And failure. But mostly, retrying a lot even if you don’t fail. And that’s what it’s so good at. Not many games can make you replay a level over and over again until you do it perfectly and then replay it again anyway just to do it a little better. It’s the never ending quest for perfection distilled into video game form.
Part of what makes it so addictive is that the restarts are instantaneous, either from a checkpoint or from a loading screen. Hit the Back button (B) and you are immediately thrown back to your first (or last) checkpoint. Complementing that idea perfectly is the fact that the gameplay always makes you feel like you can do better if you give it one more try. Every failure is a learning experience and incentive to better yourself or to earn bragging rights from friends on the leaderboards. It all combines to make it an incredibly addictive game.
The core gameplay is still unchanged from Trials HD. It’s a sort of a puzzle platformer and a racing game rolled into one. Once you get past the initial training (or Easy) levels, the focus is primarily on getting over obstacles and trying to do it in the shortest time possible. Unlike the first game, there is a bit more focus on the single-player career mode. Like a lot of other racing games, now you have to earn a set number of medals to compete for a license, which in turn unlocks a further number of events you can compete in. It’s a nice system and feels like an improved version of what existed in the first game. It’s also a neat little incentive to try to do better than you did the last time around.
Also back from the first game are the skill games. These are levels designed mostly to goof around in and feature some pretty clever tricks and level design. In fact, excellent level design is a philosophy that echoes through all the facets of Trials Evolution. There are even levels that are neat little nods to other indie games like Limbo, ‘Splosion Man and even a Frank Miller Sin City-themed level, where everything is black and white with red being the only visible colour. All of that is helped in turn by the heavy upgrade the graphics have gotten. Gone is the dingy, dark basement look of the first game; there are some absolutely gorgeous vistas on view here.
New to the series is multiplayer. There are different multiplayer events you can compete in either offline or online. My personal favourite is the four-player super cross event, which plays out like a crazy version of Excitebike. Multiplayer also has its separate career mode, where you unlock events and rank up, but it’s largely superficial. Offline multiplayer is fairly customizable and you can pick the tracks you want to play on (including user created ones) to make a sort of a playlist.
Between the campaign, the multiplayer and the skill games, Trials evolution would make for an incredible package that would be a strong Game of the Year contender. What actually pushes it beyond that and makes it a legit Game of the Generation contender is the level editor. It’s incredibly detailed yet easy to use and some of the stuff the community has been churning out is jaw-dropping. There are levels inspired by Portal, Super Mario Bros, Castlevania, etc. And it’s not just the fun gimmicky stuff; there are some truly astonishingly well designed levels that would challenge the developers for sheer creativity and inspiration. It gives the game an infinite amount of replay value.
It’s not just the Trials part of the name that describes it; this really is an Evolution in every sense of the word, building on the strengths of its predecessor to make a phenomenally good game. I suppose before we end this I should throw the old “10 doesn’t mean its flawless” caveat out there. But being completely honest, that’s not really true. As I sit here, I am struggling to think of anything negative to say. And that’s what makes it so good. For a game that makes you want to be perfect at it, it throws nothing but perfection back at you.