Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was one of the best and most unique experiences I had with a video game back in 2013. By taking all of the fundamental mechanics that make the Far Cry series so enjoyable and cementing it into a world rich with 80’s neon vibes, Blood Dragon managed to craft itself its own little fanbase within the already established Far Cry community.
After almost three years of fans begging for a sequel, Ubisoft unveiled Trials of the Blood Dragon to the world at their 2016 E3 showcase and released it that same night. Rather than being a straight sequel, Trials of the Blood Dragon takes the personality, aesthetic, and charm of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and exchanges the gameplay for the motorbike and physics based platforming found within the Trials series.
With Blood Dragon and the Trials series both having their own passionate fanbases, reactions to this follow up were mixed from both sides. The Trials fans seemed excited for a new installment in the series, while the Blood Dragon fans were split between excitement for a new game in the universe and annoyance with this not being the game they’d been asking for.
I, however, am a huge fan of both franchises, so I went and purchased the game the second it went up on the PlayStation Store. Seriously — it didn’t have any likes, communities, or even the background image that PS4 games have. Come to think of it, I might have even been one of, if not, the first to buy it.
This game follows in a very similar fashion to the other games in the Trials series, more specifically Trials Fusion. If you’ve played Trials Fusion, then you’ll feel right at home when it comes to playing Trials of the Blood Dragon as the core gameplay style has essentially been pulled straight from Fusion and placed in here, albeit with the trick mechanics being removed (which is a good thing, if you ask me). Instead of the tricks, Blood Dragon boasts some pretty unique and fun on-foot sections that function as a mash-up between a side-scrolling shooter like Contra and a twin-stick shooter. I’m not making a straight comparison between the shooting mechanics in this game and Contra, because they’re really not too much alike, but that’s the only comparison that sprung to mind. Whilst the on-foot sections are fun, when I sit down to play a Trials game I just want to go through crazy levels on an equally as crazy bike and the run-and-gun segments get stale pretty quickly.
Long-time Trials fans love the crazy levels the series is known for. Trials of the Blood Dragon has them to offer, but unfortunately there are far less than in previous entries. This lack of scale is down to the fact that the game is only home to 27 levels, which I managed to plough my way through in a little over two hours. This shortage of levels isn’t helped by the fact that this game doesn’t include the legendary track creation tools that the Trials series is famous for, which is disappointing. Even though I’m not the most skilled person when it comes to Trials’ level creation, browsing through the abundance of user created content was a great thing that kept me coming back to play the other games in the series.
The lack of content available within this spin-off does make me wonder whether or not this game was intended as another expansion for the already popular Trials Fusion, but at some point in development they felt the need to stretch it out into its own game. I would have been a lot more forgiving at the lack of levels included within Blood Dragon if it was released as an expansion that included the already existing levels, themed assets for use in the Fusion level editor, and some near gear to slap on your character.
One thing that I was incredibly fond of was just how well this game captured the spirit that was so rich within the world of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. The visuals are extremely reminiscent of the original game, with a certain Trials flare that just adds to the overall appearance. As expected, Trials of the Blood Dragon is absolutely packed to the brim with neon lights, dark outdoor locations, and tight industrial buildings whilst being accompanied by the typical steep slopes, ramps, and loops that are common within the Trials franchise.
To accompany the visual aesthetic, Australian electronic producers Power Glove return to write and produce the entirety of the musical score to be heard throughout your time with Trials of the Blood Dragon. Rich with deep synth basses and nostalgic feeling drum loops, this is a soundtrack so strong that it kept me hooked and wanting to play through each and every level just so I could hear another tune from this fantastic musical duo. Come to think of it, I have the soundtrack to the original on vinyl and I sincerely hope that this one sees a similar release.
Trials of the Blood Dragon is a game that, I feel, tries to be a game that exists purely to introduce fans of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon to the Trials series, and vice versa. I don’t doubt that you’ll enjoy it if you pick it up, but I honestly don’t think that it holds the longevity that all other installments in the franchise seem to have had. If Trials of the Blood Dragon is something that has peaked your interest in the Trials series, I wouldn’t say that this is a bad place to start, but I think that long-time fans of the series would be disappointed with the lack of content included in the $14.99/£11.99 package. If I were you, I’d just head to your local video game store or digital marketplace and pick up the Trials Fusion: Awesome Max Edition. Trust me, you’ll have a far more enjoyable experience with masses of content to keep you coming back for, what truly is, the ultimate Trials experience.