The idea of future sports is an interesting staple in video games. Sometimes, these sports are a modern sport but with extra technology such as the classic Blood Bowl which was football with robots. Other times, it can be a completely original sport such as Rocket League. Future Grind takes a future view of what the X-Games may be like in the far future.
Future Grind pits the player in the shoes of a nameless driver in a neon tightrope walk with their lives on the line. As the player moves through the ranks, more and more sponsors will be knocking at your door. It’s up to the player to make sure that their investment in you is not misplaced.
Gameplay: Blood Sport
Future Grind portrays a world where people climb into strange vehicles of varying degrees of iffy safety features and grind on rails of different colors for points. The twist as the game evolves is that the wheel touching the rail must match colors or the vehicle will explode. It goes without saying that this can get complicated fast. As more vehicles are unlocked, the challenge only increases.
Players can grind both on the top and bottom of the rail. Another option is having a wheel over the rail and the rest of the vehicle under the rail (somewhat like a sky rail). Further into the game, there are gimmicks which change the color of the wheels. This keeps you constantly on your toes. Fortunately, players can restart almost instantly when failing.
Levels are split up into tracks and missions. The first-time players enter a track they are given the goal of survive the track, after this first mission several other missions unlock with parameters such as “Do X flips” or “get X points” etc. It’s a bit disappointing when there is no change to the tracks during these extra missions. After enough missions, the next track will unlock and the cycle repeats.
The gameplay is unfortunately a bit too loose to keep the game from being frustrating. It’s hard to place a finger on what is wrong. However, many of the failures seem to be more the fault of the game than anything the player does. Future Grind feels too floaty to be a tight experience and requires too much accuracy to be a fun arcade game.
Story: Brainwashed through Social Media
As many futuristic media properties show, the world is run by a small number of large corporations. These corporations run the tracks in the Future Grind world, each one looking to sponsor the player. The player will be sponsored by several corporations by the end of the game. These corporations act more as a way for the player to know what vehicle they will be using than having any real consequence. It would have been nice to have more gameplay choices attached to these corporations.
Through the course of the game, an interesting plot begins to develop when it is shown that things are not as they seem. It makes things more interesting than if the story just stayed simple. Indie games have always been the domain of developers who look to take daring chances with their work which the “mainstream” games see as unmarketable.
Just one nitpick would be the use of technology during the scant storyline. It’s difficult to suspend disbelief when these “cutting edge” corporations are still using email. You’d think they would have some new wacky social media created platform instead. It’s understandable that the developers needed a way to not have voice actors, but it’s handled too clunky for a game which wants to be hip.
Graphics/Controls: Neon Dream
The tracks in the game are bright neon colors. This allows players to more easily differentiate the colors that must be matched when the tracks begin to fly by at high speeds. These colors also allow for a higher sense of speed in the tracks themselves. The other aspects of the graphics are rather stock game development objects, which is a bit disappointing. There’s a bit of dissonance between the background and the play area. This leads to the game feeling a bit rushed at least on the art direction side.
The controls work as needed, if a bit frustrating. As said earlier, the floaty controls lead to failures that don’t feel like the players fault. The player is forced to choose between carefully moving through the track and sacrificing a high score, or to risk some frustrating failures to go fast and do some awesome tricks.
Fortunately, failures are easily restarted. Unfortunately, it seems that it’s a bit too easy to restart as the X button and Right Trigger are used, which is where many player’s hands naturally rest. There were too many accidental restarts when things were going well.
A Flawed Console Game, but Great for the Go
Future Grind is a game that feels like it could either happen in the far future or next year. Somewhere under the surface is a game which says something about the breakneck world of extreme sports and the corporate foundation which props it up. It’s a message that has not been seen in many years from sports titles.
Overall, Future Grind is a bit too flawed for long play sessions, but is fun to take on the go. In short spurts, there is enough depth to continue playing occasionally. I don’t see the game having much of a long life. However, there is enough of an interesting foundation that could be improved to create an excellent sequel.
- THE GOOD
- Fun in short bursts
- Story is engaging
- THE BAD
- The controls are floaty
Overall, Future Grind is a bit too flawed for long play sessions, but as a game to take on the go it’s fun. In short spurts, there is enough depth to continue playing occasionally. I don’t see the game having much of a long life, but there is enough of an interesting foundation that could be improved to create an excellent sequel.
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Jonathan Thornburg has been playing games for almost 25 years, and in that time has developed a love for the Gaming Industry. He plays on the PS4 mostly, but can be found indulging in games from the past 25 years as well. He streams on twitch.tv/leftstick and uploads to youtube.com/c/leftstickgaming.