FutureGrind is a stunt-platformer from Milkbag Games. In it, you ride bikes whose wheels grind along rails of the same color, pulling off tricks and generally looking cool all the while in your pursuit of attaining the highest score possible. Think something like Ubisoft’s Trials series, but as an auto-runner and not as mean, and you get the idea. You grind your way across a couple dozen levels in pursuit of the highest score possible, unlocking new bikes along the way.
The premise is that you’re the latest hotshot competitor slowly working your way up the ranks earning sponsors and advancing your career. A few gigs in, however, you suddenly get a message that says there’s more going on — someone behind the scenes plotting something sinister — and that you’re help is needed in exposing the truth. The story remains in the background for the majority of the game, never quite taking center stage until the final stretch. That’s fine given FutureGrind is primarily about pulling off cool tricks, but it does add a nice dose of intrigue to what’s otherwise a pretty standard level-to-level progression.
That progression sees you regularly swapping between bikes as you advance to new tracks. I was able to get the hang of using each bike almost instantly. For something that’s often balancing on a single wheel, the bikes are very stable, with little back-and-forth to keep from falling over. I never had to worry about over-correcting when I pushed too far in either direction. Some bikes are easier than others to use — such as the “xero,” which doesn’t ever tilt and can jump three times instead of two, or conversely, the “gimbal,” which has one large wheel and a tiny one that are offset from each other making balance harder to maintain — but they all remain easy to control. They only become difficult due to the track itself and how it leverages with bike’s quirks as opposed to the vehicles’ own handling. While using the gimbal, for example, the tracks are built around using the bike’s offset wheels to their fullest. Usually that’s by giving you opportunities to use the smaller wheel to hang off of rails or grind underneath them to then seamlessly transfer to a rail the larger wheel can use.
Most of FutureGrind‘s challenge, however, comes from overextending. Every time I failed a run, it almost always because I was trying to pull off more tricks than I could. One too many forward flips, a slip up while trying to hop between rails. Always something I could have avoided had I been a bit more careful. But because it’s so easy to build up points, it’s hard to avoid the temptation to make the most of every jump, to grind each rail you see to its fullest. That’s in part due to how easy it is to pull off tricks, but mostly because of how fun it is to go wild and fit in as many flips as I can before I land.
It speaks to how good FutureGrind’s platforming is that I’m constantly trying to maximize my score even when that’s not the goal. The additional missions you unlock from finishing a track once are more challenge runs than score-based, asking you to perform things like getting through the level without touching any rails of a particular color, or pulling off a particular trick a number of times. I could — and should — have just focused on completing the objective, but it’s far more thrilling to go the extra mile. And that’s only possible because the game makes its traversal so easy to do. Were its tricks more complex or the platforming unforgiving, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful.