Developed by MilkBag Games
Published by MilkBag Games Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (Also Available on Steam)
The human race’s desire for something extreme comes in many flavors. Whether it’s eating the spiciest food possible, testing the grandest possibilities with science, or pushing ourselves to our physical limits, there is an appetite for the extreme. FutureGrind presents one such possibility with a futuristic sport all about grinding on energy wires and exploding if you mess up! FutureGrind takes place several years in the future, where advances in technology allow cyclists to build rotating bikes and grind out course for prizes, glory, and sponsorships.
The most striking aspects are the visuals. Even though visually they’re simplistic, it still manages to really grab your attention. The use of color is a very important factor here. Each of the different rails, with the exception of white, are charged with a different kind of energy. Touch the wrong color wheel to the wrong line…and you go BOOM. Each cyclist start with a two wheel rotating bike. Rotate the left stick to make your wheels rotate to match the rail. Rotating allows you to do tricks flips, carry overs, and different grinds based on your positioning. The ability to control not only the height of your jump but use a delayed double-jump also gives a great boost in mobility and your ability to solve problems. Staying on the rail and doing tricks earns you points. It’s very simple and addictive. Both the gameplay and the story evolve into something much more involved and I found both aspects hard to ignore.
I won’t get too much into the story because the game is moderately short, but the amount of gameplay you get is substantial. The game play loop of using different bikes on different tracks while needing to meet different requirements really keeps you on the edge of your seat. I struggled a bit at first as I usually do for color related tests because of my colorblindness. However, while checking out what kind of options the game has, I stumbled upon a colorblind assistance option. It’s not a simple switch to different colors, there is ACTUAL customization. I was over the moon when I realized I could choose two colors that I could see well, and not worry about things getting so mixed up where I couldn’t tell what’s going on. This made a huge difference as my pattern recognition sky rocketed and I found certain challenges were now up to skill rather than my ability to guess colors correctly.
The learning curve is actually another thing this game nails. The challenges are based on three major factors: courses, vehicles, and the required objectives to advance. While the first mission is just to survive the track, the follow up missions have specific requirements, such as performing a specific trick a number of times, a combination of different grinds, or getting through without touching a specific rail. This mix of missions and different mechanical elements makes the gameplay very engaging and gratifying when you finally topple a challenge that you couldn’t before.
There’s an extra motivational layer that’s nicely baked in with the soundtrack. The bass lines and synth grooves that line each set of tracks was a good motivator to keep me going. Frustration I felt from not quite figuring out a track was mitigated somewhat by the music keeping my attention on the rhythm and the overall good vibes the soundtrack gives. There were several times where I realized I had spent 45 minutes figuring out a track because the music kept me in a groove. The score is absorbing and makes all of the other elements blend even better. A small criticism is that the online elements are limited to a scoreboard. Co-op or a versus mode could have easily made this an even more unique experience but I feel MilkBag will be around for another attempt.
All in all I had a very good time with FutureGrind. Between the almost Zen like blend of music and track mastery, I had a couple of hours whiz by pretty easily. If you’re looking for a fun game that is easy to learn, somewhat difficult to master, and won’t challenge your colorblindness, FutureGrind is a great time.