Review – Trailblazers

Some people might complain that big releases aren’t as creative as they used to be a decade or two ago, and they are partially right: big budget games need to appeal to as many demographics as possible, therefore being forced to provide a somewhat homogenized and by-the-books experience. If you want true gaming creativity nowadays, you gotta look at the indie market, where you can pretty much find anything ranging from Matrix simulators with retro-styled low-polygon visuals to a game that mixes F-Zero with Splatoon with a visual style reminiscent of Borderlands and a soundtrack that will remind you a lot of Jet Set Radio. This last one is pretty much the best description I can give you for Trailblazers, one of the most pleasant surprises of 2018 so far.


The closest to a DeLorean you’ll find in here

Not only is Trailblazers an amalgamation of everything I wrote in the previous paragraph, but it’s also a very original racing game when it comes to the way you win races. You compete in futuristic antigrav races with vehicles reminiscent of F-Zero, all of them equipped with some weird mechanism that lets you paint part of the track with your colors. Just like in Fast RMX, whenever your ship passes by a part of the track covered in your color, you get a boost. The more “territory” you conquer with your “paint”, the faster and longer you can boost for. Again, just like in RMX, if you end up passing by a part of the track covered in a color different than yours, you’ll actually slow down.

This is not the actual innovative bit regarding how you win races, though. Trailblazers is a co-op focused racer. Just like in Formula 1, not only you have your individual finishing position, but you also have to make sure your team beats the other one by not only finishing in the first positions, but also by conquering the most territory (just like Splatoon) and performing the largest amount of combo points, most of which can be earned by continuously boosting without ever leaving your “turf”. That means you can actually lose a race even if you finish it in front of everyone else. There’s a lot of strategy involved in every single race, making Trailblazers a very unique title compared to its peers.


I’m about to slow down A LOT

Not only is Trailblazers a blast to play, but it’s also a blast to look at and listen to. Its cel-shaded graphics reminded me a lot of games like Borderlands, with a ton of charm and personality, even though the framerate isn’t ideal for such a fast-paced game. That’s not the best aspect of the game, though.

The best thing Trailblazers has to offer is its licensed soundtrack, one of the absolutely coolest soundtrack of the past few years. There isn’t a single famous artist in the roster, which made things even more satisfying after listening to all songs and falling in love with the vast majority of them. The game’s tracks are a mix between funk, electronica and hip-hop, something extremely reminiscent of Jet Set Radio, but dare I say it, even better than that game’s soundtrack.

I’ve been praising the game non-stop but I do have a few gripes with it. Besides the aforementioned framerate issues, Trailblazers features faulty physics. Rubber banding is a constant issue, as well as the fact your ride always loses a tremendous amount of speed and momentum whenever you touch something or perform the slightest braking possible. Thankfully, the vast majority of course do not feature sharp turns, allowing for you to keep on running at the highest speeds you can.


My team still won even though I finished sixth

One of the best surprises of 2018 so far, Trailblazers caught me off guard with its completely innovative gameplay, amazing soundtrack and arcade-like replayability. This title oozes charm and personality to an infectious degree, and it’s an absolute must not only for F-Zero fans, but for any racing fan in general.

Graphics: 7.5

Charming cel-shaded visuals which reminded me a lot of Borderlands. The game suffers from framerate issues, though.

Gameplay: 7.5

There is an excessive amount of rubber banding and the collision detection is a bit faulty, but the overall controls are responsive enough.

Sound: 9.5

Easily the best part of the game, the soundtrack is comprised of fantastic hip-hop, funk and electronic tunes, very reminescent of Jet Set Radio.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Trailblazers features a unique gameplay concept, innovative racing modes, tons of charm and lots of replayability.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Reviewed on PS4.
Also available on: Xbox One, PC.
A copy of Trailblazers was provided by the publisher.