The Trials franchise is a series that I keep going back to. The brilliantly simple controls (accelerator, brake, rider balance and that’s it) matched with devious track design and spot-on physics have elevated these games above the sum of their parts. Many games have tried to copy the series but have failed to duplicate the magic that RedLynx have conjured. The latest game to try its luck is Guts and Glory from Hakjak Productions and tinyBuild.
Guts and Glory takes the Trials premise and moves it into a fully 3D arena. You are tasked with going through various checkpoints to your ultimate goal. This may involve navigating narrow paths, performing well-judged jumps, and avoiding numerous hazards or obstacles. You are usually given a choice of vehicle to tackle the challenge. These range from a bicycle, car, and quad bike, to a skateboard or even a rocket-propelled deckchair. Each mode of transport has its quirks, benefits, and deficiencies, so you need to choose wisely. Once you set off your aim is to pass through the checkpoints however you think best. If you want to take a completely obscure route, that is fine as long as you ultimately go through the yellow or orange circles.
The basic premise might be very similar to Trials, but the physics that made that game so great are replaced here by something more akin to Goat Simulator. Your various passengers have limbs that just flail around the place like they are on the moon or something. The gravity affecting your vehicle is also slightly less than you feel it should be, resulting in a very floaty sort of handling model. While this makes some of the challenges a little easier, others become even more challenging. I would never expect a budget title like this (it’s currently $14.99 on the Xbox store) to have the sort of handling that the Forza series has or even be as good as Trials is. When you have challenges that require you to nail a jump perfectly to reach the next checkpoint, though, it needs to be reliable and to feel solid.
Visually, Guts and Glory looks just what you would expect a budget title to look like. Textures are bland and repetitive. Colours are muted and dull. The game loves to remove the limbs of its participants and sprays blood around the screen in something that looks more like random blobs of playdough. Some effort has been made to make the different areas look different, but most of the time they are so sparsely populated that they can still blend into one.
The visuals may be poor, the physics just plain bad, and bland sound that you won’t even notice but some of the levels do provide a challenge to even the best gamers. The latter levels in each group of tracks will often have you tearing your hair out figuring out how to complete them. This might sound great, but unfortunately, it’s often because the game just puts cannons or some other weapon who will target you with such accuracy that even Bob Lee Swagger would be lost for words. I’m all up for tracks that force you to time your moves perfectly or to have great precision but to just randomly have cannonballs thrown at you feels cheap.
This series of reviews may be called Enthusiastic Impressions, but there is very little to be enthusiastic about in Guts and Glory. Gameplay, visuals, audio, physics, nearly every area of the game falls short. The only redeeming points are the occasional decent track and the general absurdity of the game. This is like trying to look for positives in a pile of cow dung though. Save your money and either buy Trials Fusion or preorder Trials Rising.