At first glance, one might mistake the new title FutureGrind for the likes of Trials or one of those old Motorbike balancing flash games from back in the day, although don’t let that put you off, as you’d be sorely mistaken for passing this one up.
Within seconds of booting up the game and delving into the menu, Future Grind hits the player with a sweet, techno-based aesthetic and soundtrack that sets the stage for a neon-filled, colour oriented take on the Trials formula that manages to stand entirely as its own thing. The gameplay is pretty simple stuff, you commandeer a futuristic motorcycle that has wheels that spin around the cockpit, whilst at first the goal is simply to get to the end of the 2D rail grind stages, as you progress you’ll find the colour of the rails, your bikes wheels and how you use them holds far greater significance to the level design and gameplay.
At first, I found the game to be somewhat boring, the tutorial levels hold very little in the way of a challenge for obvious reasons, with the player being able to simply jump and land on whatever rails they like. I found the game to be almost too simple and it was losing my attention fast. (Whilst I list these missions as a con, later on, I do understand they’re a necessary evil!) A couple of levels in, however, I found myself playing what felt like an almost entirely different game (in a good way). All of a sudden, I had to now make sure to land on the correctly coloured wheel in relation to the rail I was approaching.
This adds a whole new layer to the experience and manages to blend seamlessly with the aesthetics of the game, adding to the futuristic vibes and gelling the soundtrack, visuals and gameplay together in a truly beautiful way.
Between levels, you receive messages from characters who work at the company that develops your bike. Thankfully, they’re non-intrusive to the experience and easy to skip over for those that just want to play the game, but at the same time, you have the option of reading them and immersing yourself in a bit of light storytelling, if that’s your kinda thing. It’s also worth saying, I definitely began to enjoy the game far more as the challenge ramped up, with trick chaining, colour changing wheels and other mechanics spicing up the gameplay even further than previously mentioned.
One part of the game I did find somewhat lacking was the side missions, small assignments that throw you back into previously completed levels, but with a single objective like “Do a 720 front flip”. These feel like weak, obvious excuses to pad out the game by retreading old ground. No matter how solid the level design actually is.
Of course, the added challenge means you’ll be failing stages and dying a whole lot more. Whilst this would usually be considered a bad thing, luckily Future Grind embraces it’s inner Meat Boy and allows for quick, snappy level restarts with thanks to its quick loading times and painless menu navigation.
Overall, whilst FutureGrind is a simple, small experience, it’s an extremely well executed one. I think having it on the Switch only enhances it’s pick up and play nature with the advent of being able to play it portably anytime and anyplace. I recommend this game to anyone looking for a simple, fun game they can hop in and out of, especially if you enjoy the likes of Trials or even Olli Olli. Fantastic, addictive stuff.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*