Sometimes a game will come along and it is difficult to nail down exactly what genre it fits into. Despite this you’ll immediately know what to expect. That is the case with FutureGrind.
If you have ever played the excellent “Trials” games, you aren’t too far off. Its similarities can only be a good thing, as both games are easy to pick up and play, but hard to master. You could say it’s a sports, platformer and puzzle game all at once. As I went hands-on with FutureGrind expectations were running high, but I was also left hoping things weren’t about to go off the rails…
Things are fairly straightforward in the colourful, futuristic, yet almost retro world of FutureGrind. You are a talented bike rider who has attracted the attention of some sponsors, who want to put your talent, and their tracks, to the test. Of course, it’s not your average push-bike that we’re talking about here, it’s something a little more extreme. You’ll also quickly start to realise, there’s someone else who’s taken an interest in you too…
Your skills consist of jumping, grinding and flipping across rails suspended high up off the ground. The secret to success is matching colours, namely ensuring your wheels and rails match, otherwise you’ll meet an untimely end. The only exception here are in terms of the white rails, which are safe but end any points combo you’ve been building. You’ll visit different locations which are home to unique tracks, and each track has three sets of challenges to be completed. These may include tasks such as avoiding white rails altogether, racking up a certain amount of combos, and other similar challenges. One of these will always be a score attack for each track, where you will receive a bronze, silver, gold or platinum cup for your efforts, depending on how well you do. If you achieve a platinum score on another challenge for the same track, it won’t count, so bring your A-game to the score attack missions. Variety will net you the most points in FutureGrind, this means you’ll need to perform various types of grinding, as well as flipping and moving between rails without jumping. Only then will you be able to earn those elusive platinum rewards.
As I touched on earlier, you have a few tricks up your sleeve which you can use to really rack up points. Firstly, you can jump by pressing A and then a second time if you hit it again. If you hold A down for longer you jump further and mastering this will be crucial for the more advanced tracks later on. You can also spin either way by using the left joystick, either whilst airborne or grinding. Finally, if you need to start over, hit X and you’ll transport back to the beginning of the track.
As you progress you will unlock new bikes which will be accompanied by more challenging tracks to conquer, as the gameplay becomes more complex. For example, your second bike still has two wheels, but they are different colours.
You’ll be spinning like a madman to make sure they match the rails as you grind your way through the track. You can view, and practise with, your bikes at anytime in the “Hangar” which you can access via main menu.
You can also find the “Grindpedia” here, which explains how to perform each move and displays a little clip of each in action. It’s handy to refer back to from time to time, however the game eases you in gently at the start to help you learn the ropes.
Despite FutureGrind’s apparent simplicity, things get much more difficult as you unlock new bikes and tracks. This is where a deceptively simple game starts to unveil its complexity and clever gameplay design. You’ll crash, a lot, and depending on your level of patience will get frustrated at times. This is because the game is challenging, but is still lots of fun to play. As a result, you’ll keep coming back for one more go, determined to succeed. There are plenty of tracks to play too, around 50 in total including those high scores to chase.
The game is fairly simple looking, but that’s not a bad thing here. It works, even if it is no frills, and uses bright colours well to animate the environments. There’s a “colour-blind mode” option in the settings which allows those players who may struggle to distinguish between certain colours to choose which to use, improving accessibility. The graphical style reminds me of a VR experience, perhaps taking place in a data-stream, as there are lots of pointed shapes and not many curved edges to smooth things out here. The soundtrack is a brilliant accompaniment to the action, it’s funky and fun to listen to.
FutureGrind is an addictive and well designed game which will sink its claws into you and refuse to let go. What is especially impressive, is that it’s been developed by Milkbag Games, which is made up of just two talented individuals, Matt Rix and Owen Goss. Priced at £15.29 on the Nintendo Switch, it might be slightly too pricey for some. however, if you can handle the challenge, and don’t mind dying a lot, there is much to enjoy here.
Release date: January 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: Milkbag Games