Trials Frontier has arrived in the App Store, ready to get players frustrated in all of the best ways and cursing the laws of physics. If you’ve never played a Trials game, then you’re in for a treat. Or quite possibly one of the most frustrating gaming experienced you’ve come across.
In Trials Frontier, you play the part of a young dirtbike rider who gets his whole world rocked when a cave-in on a track renders him unconscious and his bike useless. Luckily for you, a town nearby has taken you in and their denizens are keen on bringing you back to your old form. Unfortunately, your bike wasn’t in any shape to be salvaged, so you’re left to ride an old artifact called the Armadillo.
What ensues is a series of quests given by the local townsfolk that has you exploring the areas of the Frontier, racing against bad guys and gathering parts to create better machines, all in the name of dirtbiking. Each mission will bring you to a track on which you can display your fine skills on a bike, jumping over gaps, launching off ramps, getting the timing perfect for stunts, pulling off sick backflips and/or front flips and even going through loop-the-loops.
The controls are very simple, but therein lies the challenge in Trials Frontier. Virtual face buttons on the screen allow you to accelerate, decelerate/back up and either lean the bike forwards or backwards. You’ll use all of these buttons to keep your bike moving along the tracks and keep them level while traveling through the air. One wrong move could cause you to crash and eat dirt as a result, destroying your time and killing your score.
While most tracks seem pretty straightforward and task you with getting from Point A to Point B, obstacles are strewn about in the middle to impede your progress. Some of these obstacles include ramps and jumps. You’ll find that, in the beginning, your barebones bike will have difficulty managing these obstacles, but you can build up a cache of coins and even win parts to help you upgrade your ride This is where the freemium part of Trials Frontier comes into play.
Upgrading parts takes both coins and time. You might have to wait for half-an-hour to get a part upgraded, but this can all be skipped with a few gems, the premium currency in Trials Frontier. Thankfully, the use of gems is not necessary and can be utilized by players who have money to burn and are less than patient when it comes to getting their Trials fix.
It’s hard not to like Trials Frontier, even with its somewhat limiting freemium model. The presentation is great, giving you an adventure game feeling thanks to all of the townsfolk and their quests, as well as the map that needs to be filled in and explored by you. The graphics are not the most stunning you’ll see in the App Store, but they’re very attractive. I also enjoyed the character designs for the townspeople, since they were all unique and fit the characters’ personalities well.
The music, while not present during runs on tracks, had a very Western vibe in menus and little vignettes with characters, reminiscent of the frenzied guitars of Grabiela y Rodrigo. It really helps to put you in the exploratory mood and gets you ramping through the many different stages to see how much more you can unlock and other quests you can finish. During runs, you’ll be treated to the sounds of engines sputtering, wooden platforms creaking under the weight of your impact and a whole cacophony of sounds from the environment, including rushing waterfalls, blazing tire fires and crumbling rocks. If you’re looking for great sound design and feedback, you’ll definitely find it in Trials Frontier.
Because this is a freemium game, you’ll have limits on gameplay. You can only race on tracks if you’ve got fuel to spend. If not, you’ll have to wait until you regenerate fuel (wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was a thing in a real life?), or spend gems to get boosts in fuel or a bigger tank. Because of that, Trials Frontier is a game better played in small bursts. But because of the quick nature of Trials tracks (most take only half a minute to complete), you’ll find yourself burning through quests in a matter of minutes. This could make it so that players find the experience lacking, but more patient fans will likely enjoy the bite-sized sessions of Trials fun. If you’re a Trials fan looking for a solid mobile package, then get this game. If you want a fuller experience, then you’ll have to look elsewhere.
This review was completed with a downloaded copy of Trials Frontier for iOS.