Trailblazers review for PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: Supergonk
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-6
Online: Yes

There’s a lot to love about Trailblazers. It’s a vibrant game, bursting with life in every aspect from its bright colours, to its upbeat music, to its cast of characters. If Splatoon and Wipeout had a baby, it would probably look something like this.

Notice that nowhere in that list of things to love was Trailblazers’ actual gameplay. And this is because, unfortunately, Trailblazers kind of sucks in that regard.

I should quickly point out here that I probably never got the full Trailblazers experience, since I never got to try out the game in multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, I didn’t happen to have five friends available to come over and join in, nor could I ever find a single online match. I could almost envision a scenario where Trailblazers is kind of fun, where, racing as a team, you lay down strategically-placed boosts and help your team literally blaze a trail (pun unintentional, though I just realized where the game got its name) to victory.

This meant, sadly, that I was at the mercy of the game’s AI, which is terrible in every respect. Your teammates are useless, more likely to slam into you and impede your progress than they are to lay down useful tracks to help you boost. Conversely, your AI opponents are both insanely strategic and prone to sudden bursts of speed that will leave you sitting in their dust…er, paint.

Of course, that’s just one of many, many weird design choices that sink Trailblazers. The controls are incredibly drifty, and it’s very tough to combine speed with precision. This, in turn, is an issue because of the game’s scoring: you earn points for pulling off a range of manoeuvres, except your point streak ends and gets reset to zero the moment you brush against a wall. Given that boosting raises your ship’s speed to a point where you can barely see the track walls, you can imagine how quickly this goes wrong. All of this seems like the sort of stuff that could’ve been fixed with a half-decent Options screen, except this game doesn’t have one of those.

Honestly, it kind of pains me to give Trailblazers a bad score. From a purely aesthetic perspective, it’s got a lot going for it. But, unfortunately, there’s a difference between a game that looks nice and a game that plays well, and Trailblazers just never figures out how to bridge that divide.

Rising Star Games provided us with a Trailblazers PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B