FutureGrind is one of those rare frustratingly addictive games that causes the player to “give it one more try” and before long, the time is 2am and they are still trying to pull off a 900 point golden hang-rail.
From the creative minds of indie developer Milkbag Games, FutureGrind is a fast-paced side-scroller which sees the player take control of one of five light cycles to tackle increasingly tougher maps and challenges. The light cycles are stylish two wheeled vehicles that rotate to give the player freedom of how the cycle is positioned; this becomes important as each bike typically has different coloured wheels used to traverse matching coloured parts of the track. Failing to match the correct wheel with the same coloured track results in a rather harsh explosion and causes the level to reset.
With both style and intricacy, FutureGrind feels like the lovechild of Beat Saber and Trials Fusion. The title combines the complex and increasingly tougher level designs of Trials and adds an amazing techno soundtrack composed by bignic. The original soundtrack includes nineteen adrenaline pumping, full-length tracks made especially for the game. Just when the player might be ready to give in and try a different challenge, the beat will kick in and revitalize them for another attempt. Nothing is more satisfying than landing a successful stunt as the drop hits or quickly shifting between rails in time to the beat. The blend of simple stunts and exciting music makes even the most mundane trick feel rewarding and spectacular.
Each level has a gorgeous and unique backdrop, from sun-kissed beaches during the day to urban, dimly lit cityscapes. The backdrops are vibrant and distinct enough from one another to breathe fresh life into scene without being too distracting as to take away concentration from the forefront.
The track rails themselves catch the player’s attention with an intense neon glow. The levels may not seem imposing at first, with each introductory round only requiring the player to survive the track while using as much or as little finesse as they desire. Players will then have to navigate the same level, often multiple times, with additional requirements to pass. These added challenges range from acquiring a certain score with a trick or avoiding particularly coloured rails. In terms of difficulty, the additional tasks can vary from easy and light-hearted to downright cruel and insane. For instance, one challenge requires the player to pull off the infamous aforementioned 900-point golden hang-rail. The hang-rail is achieved by hooking one of the wheels onto a rail and letting the other dangle loosely below; the 900 points is acquired by performing the move for a certain duration, and finally the golden aspect is only possibly when attempting the trick for the first time per restart.
Behind all the bright lights and fast-paced action lies an intriguing story in the form of text-based messages that appear after completing levels. Players control a rider recently picked up by a sponsor looking to slowly climb the rail-riding leagues. Progressing through the ranks will gradually earn the player more sponsors, and with that comes upgraded bikes to spice things up. All is not as it seems, however, when cryptic and worrying texts begin to glitch onto the screen. The events quickly become shrouded in mystery with the lines blurring between who can and cannot be trusted.
As an experience, FutureGrind is an excellent example of the balance between punishing and satisfying gameplay. Scoreboards and trophy systems are in place to encourage gamers to beat their previous scores, creating a level of player-induced difficulty. The ease of resetting a level goads gamers into trying more daring acts to boost combos in a high risk, high reward scenario. The varying environments and changes of pace from using the differing bikes is enough to prevent the experience from becoming stale. Overall, FutureGrind is a brilliantly addictive title with a tonne of replay value for those competitive gamers eager to better themselves and show off their skills.
Reviewed on PC.