The Trials series increasingly faces a common creative challenge. Just how should it innovate when it has established an acclaimed, adored template founded on simplicity? Tinker too much, and that carefully fostered purity is sullied. Yet the alternative of delivering more of the same - however brilliant - is bait for those with an insatiable appetite for change.
Fortunately, this problem has been addressed with great care.
The core offering of Trials Fusion will be a familiar one for those that have given the series any time previously. Fusion presents some 60 2.5D levels, each an increasingly complex assembly of ramps and ledges that must be passed on two wheels. Some are looping and graceful; others more rugged, technical affairs that demand players know when to attack the course, and when to yield to it.
Fusion is a Trials with a gentler learning curve than seen in the previous two console outings, but it climbs elegantly, with stages that arrive in perfect synchronicity with your blossoming skills. Through level design and timing Fusion constantly pushes you to play at your limits, and it is that that makes the game so satisfying, and so maddeningly morish. Success is only ever one more try away. At least, that's how it feels.
The freestyle motorcross - or FMX - tricks introduce Fusion's most significant new feature. Many acrobatic stunts are available, and while they can be pulled anywhere it is only in specific stages that using tricks becomes a necessity. These levels are occasional enough to keep trick riding fresh, the additional controls simple enough to make FMX riding a welcome change in the gameplay's rhythm, without impacting the core experience.
There's also an increased emphasis on the user-generated content that debuted in Trials Evolution. Now the track design tool is more elaborate, if slightly bewildering, and significantly Fusion's players are rewarded through XP for completing stages crafted by fellow users.
Fusion lives up to its name. Perhaps it wasn't intended, but as a melding of the established template and something just new enough, RedLynx's creation is a wonderful thing.
Version Tested: PS4. Played for 9 hours.