FutureGrind – The Switch Island Review
FutureGrind, as well as being my Auntie Pat’s favourite music genre, is also the name of this eye-popping stunt racer from Milkbag Games. Funnily enough, “Milkbags” was also my Auntie’s nickname in high school, but that’s a story for another day.
The game itself is pretty simple, on the surface at least. It plays like an endless runner with an extreme sports twist; the hook being that the unnamed protagonist rides futuristic bikes which can only grind on rails that correspond with the colour of the wheels. For the most part you’ll have two differently coloured wheels and will need to rotate your bike in mid-air in order to land on the rail of the correct colour. Touch a purple rail with a yellow wheel, for example and your bike will explode on impact. But fear not! Levels are quick to restart and are thankfully pretty short, so once you’ve got a feel for the layout of the rails you should at least be able to make it from start to finish.
The bulk of the challenge in FutureGrind comes from objectives you need to fulfil for each course. The criteria for success is always very clear, and starts with simple requirements like “perform a 720 backflip” or “avoid touching white rails”. White rails, for the record, are neutrally charged, meaning you can safely grind them with any wheel colour, but doing so will end your combo multiplier, adding another gameplay wrinkle for high score chasers. The difficulty of the challenges and courses gradually intensifies as you progress, but there are some useful assist options available if it all gets a bit frustrating. I’m only slightly disgusted with myself that I starting tinkering with these options about 75% of the way through and they helped me to continue enjoying the game without enlisting a therapist. Seriously, the challenges get very tough towards the endgame.
The story that unfolds during the career mode is delivered via text messages from your various contacts in the grinding community. It’s indicative of the effort gone into developing this game that they’ve even bothered with a story, even if it is largely superfluous. The way the story is presented though, with each clandestine message representing progression to the next course, is pretty slick.
Presentation on the whole is super-polished, with a low-poly style that’s very easy on the eye, even at high speed. It’s not the prettiest game you’ll ever see but the bright neon rails set against sparse backdrops only add to the futuristic feel. That feeling is further galvanised by the excellent musical score, which contains all the bleeps, bloops, growling synth bass and industrial percussion you’d expect from a game set in 2076.
All of this rolled together makes for a super-tight, polished experience. It’s perhaps a little light on gameplay options but the career mode is well fleshed out and provides plenty of post-game content for completionists, not least the challenge of trying to earn diamond trophies on each of the 30 courses. The main menu also plays host to the “Grindopedia”, which sounds like a NSFW website but is in fact a handy glossary of the various tricks you can pull off. Again, a nice little touch that exemplifies the thought and care put into FutureGrind.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend FutureGrind to anyone looking for a visceral, heart-pumping challenge in between “bigger” games and if this is the future of extreme sports, whack me in a freezer and wake me up in 2076.