FutureGrind has a very simple concept but it is also kind of hard to fit it into a genre. On one hand, it is described as a 2.5D stunt-racer game and it definitely does share a lot in common with extreme sports games. However, I would actually say FutureGrind is more of an action/platformer game with a pinch of rhythm gaming thrown in. The main goal of the game is to get to the end of the track without exploding, which happens if one of your wheels ever touches a platform of a different color. There are 30 levels in the game and five different bikes to control (which each have unique mechanics to master). Most of the bikes have two different colored wheels and you will have to rotate your bike to make sure you keep hitting the right colored platforms or you will explode instantly and fail the level. You can also “hang” on a rail from the bottom as well.
You start the game off with the Slice bike, a basic bike where you just need to get to the end of the level and don’t have to worry about colors. Later levels that use the Slice bike do add things to the track to change the color of one or both of your wheels if you hit them though. Then, you move onto the Left Coast bike which introduces the two different colored wheels and platforms. Next up is the very strange Gimbal bike which has one huge wheel and a smaller one on the end of a long rod. The biggest issue with this bike is keeping it steady and making sure that your other wheel doesn’t touch an incorrect platform. The fourth bike you’ll use is the Xero bike which is very similar to the Left Coast bike but doesn’t jump as high (though you get a triple jump instead of just a double jump). Last up is unsurprisingly the most difficult bike to use, the Subverse. This one is tricky to deal with because you only get one actual wheel (the other one automatically kills you if it hits any platforms). This wouldn’t be a problem except that the color of that wheel changes every time you move from platform to platform. This means that you will have to make sure to land on alternating colored platforms throughout the entire level.
In addition to clearing each level, you will also have to complete two challenges per stage. These challenges can be anything from not touching any white platforms (the white platforms reset your multiplier and are mostly meant as guard rails to make sure you don’t fall off the course) and doing certain types of tricks (like grinding underneath a certain amount of platforms) to building up a certain multiplier or not doing any flips. Most of these weren’t particularly difficult for me but I did run into some trouble with some of the “touch every jump orb” and golden frontflip/golden backflip ones. The jump orb ones are tough because in most levels there is at least one set of consecutive jump orbs and it is quite hard to hit both of them. The golden frontflip/golden backflip ones are hard because you need to find just the right spot to do each of them and you still have to survive to the end of the level as well.
If any of the challenges are too tricky for you, you can skip two of them and still keep progressing through the levels. However, once you are at the end of the game you will need to finish all of them to actually beat the game. For me, there was only one point in the game where I struggled to progress (I had two jump orb challenges I couldn’t beat) but I do still wish the game let you skip 3-5 challenges since some players might become frustrated with a few of them. For those who really want to challenge themselves, there are also 30 diamond trophies to get in the game. These are received for scoring a certain amount of points per track, and for most levels are the only reason you’ll have to do tricks like frontflips (unless the level has a challenge that requires them).
FutureGrind has a very simple concept (land on platforms with the correct colored wheel) but it’s one that works quite well. I had a lot of fun playing the game and probably could have beaten it in one or two sessions if I had more time those days (I didn’t want to put the game down but had to force myself to do so). The only problem is the game is quite short. While I would consider myself at least an above average-skilled gamer (and I’m pretty experienced in both the platformer and rhythm genres), FutureGrind only took me around 6-8 hours to beat (including all of the challenges). I haven’t gone after the score-based diamond trophies yet but that should add at least a few more hours to the total if you plan to get them. Add a few more hours for those and you have a 10-12 hour game. Not bad for $20, but not the best bang for your buck I’ve ever seen.
The main reason FutureGrind isn’t a very long game lies in the lack of difficulty, at least in my opinion (though your mileage may vary). I honestly thought FutureGrind would be an insanely difficult game and that was the only thing that I worried about when I requested it for review. However, I had no trouble whatsoever until level 9, when the game finally started to get a bit harder. Unfortunately the added toughness doesn’t always last after that, as the difficulty curve is very inconsistent. Some of the later levels are hard but there are also a few that I beat in just a few tries. I was done with a fourth of the game in less than an hour. Progress does slow down in the later stages though and you will actually have to earn it on some of these levels (especially the Subverse bike levels). The final few levels of the game are actually legitimately difficult as well. I would say one of the main reasons the early levels are so easy is because the tracks are all quite short. Even if you get tripped up a bit, the end of the level is likely in view and you can often cover up your small mistakes quite easily. Also, only a few of the challenges are actually challenging. If more of the challenges in FutureGrind revolved around performing tricks or stunts, they could have actually been challenging. Instead, most of them are much easier like not landing on a certain color platform (much easier than you would think) or putting up a high multiplier (also surprisingly easy as you just have to avoid the white rails).
One of the best choices FutureGrind made was to include five different bikes in the game. Since each bike requires a slightly different playstyle to master, the game constantly keeps you on your toes. Even though the Subverse is by far the most excruciating bike to use, it makes the game a lot more challenging. The rest of the bikes are fairly easy to use but the bike you use in each level is constantly changing, so you will have to keep changing your playstyle to finish each level.
There are a few other things I liked about FutureGrind as well. I played the game on Playstation 4 and it is very cool that the game changes your controller’s light color based on the platform your bike is grinding on at the moment. It’s a really small touch, but also a pretty neat one. I also enjoyed the music quite a bit. There aren’t a ton of different music tracks included (so it does get a bit repetitive towards the end) but I would say that most of the music is quite good (though I do love electronic music).
The biggest negative to the game is (in my opinion) the lack of difficulty to the game. Only a few levels and challenges required me to play them more than ten or so times to complete them. This also means that the game is rather short and not really the best bang for your buck at a $20 price point. However, FutureGrind is a lot of fun to play and it’s one of those short but sweet games I would definitely recommend playing. The only other real negative I have is the story, but considering I wasn’t even expecting there to be a story in a game like this it isn’t a very big deal. The “story” is told via tweets from workers at the different bike manufacturers but there is also a person secretly letting you know that not all is as it seems. I wasn’t a fan of this fairly standard story but again, I don’t think a game like this really needs one anyway.
Overall, FutureGrind is a great game that I absolutely would recommend playing if you are into these kinds of games. If bang for your buck is really important to you, I do think $20 is maybe a bit too steep of a price for a 6-8 hour game (with potentially a few more hours to get the diamond trophies if you really want to 100% it). For price-conscious gamers, you might want to wait for a small sale before buying. Otherwise, FutureGrind comes highly recommended from me, though I do wish it was slightly more difficult.
Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Milkbag Games for the review copy of FutureGrind that was used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.