Trailblazers Switch review - "Stalls on just about everything"
| Trailblazers

Trailblazers has what must be one of the best elevator pitches in years - it's Wipeout meets Splatoon. What could possibly go wrong?

Just about everything, it turns out. While it's an eye-poppingly beautiful attempt at marrying together two seemingly disparate ideas, it never quite lives up to its potential.

Between poor handling, a confusing and unfulfilling progression system, and an awkward story mode, there's very little to recommend here - and that's a real shame.

On your marks

Trailblazer's basic premise is fairly simple - drive along a series of twisty tracks in your anti-gravity racing ship and try to beat your opponents to the finish line.

To mix things up, you're always part of a team, and all of you need to drop paint behind you to cover the track and give everyone access to the boosting powers that paint provides.

Trailblazers Switch Screenshot Forest Race Red Paint

Opponents can cover up your paint tracks and vice-versa, and you can fire paint out forwards to attack your enemies if you wait to have a fully charged paint meter.

The paint system adds another layer of strategy to the entire game, and could have worked brilliantly. There are some genuinely interesting decisions to make regarding when to drop paint, whether to find new routes to cover or take on your opponent's line, and so on.

But before long you'll find that the paint is actually perhaps your worst enemy, because boosting is basically the worst thing that can happen to you thanks to the flimsy controls.

Get set

You can accelerate, brake, and drop paint. That's it. There's no ability to drift - something you may consider essential in an arcade racer - or even an air braking solution as you'd find in Wipeout.

Instead, making tight turns consists of slamming on the brakes, pointing yourself in the right direction, and setting off again. That would be fine in another racing game, but here it absolutely kills the momentum.

Now imagine handling this while at full boost speed. You'll spend more time off the course smashing into walls than you will managing to make any of the corners, and there's nothing in place to put you back on track if you end up going the wrong way around the circuit for a while.

Trailblazers Switch Screenshot Training Course Purple Paint

Get the hang of things and you still won't have much fun. Trailblazers' Story mode offers up multiple objectives for each race, and you only need to complete one to progress.

That's great for players who are struggling, but it's very rare that one of these objectives will be for completing the race in a timely fashion. Instead, you may just need to hit a certain number of gates or attack enemies enough times.

It leads to points where you're steadily progressing through the game despite not improving in any way, and missing any feeling of satisfaction from winning a hard-fought race at the last second.

False start

The story isn't much to write home about either. Told entirely through static text-boxes before and after races, it feels a little awkwardly crowbarred into proceedings, and just serves to further break up the rhythm of the action.

Overall, Trailblazers tries to do a lot, and stalls on just about everything. The handling is a bit rubbish, progression is underwhelming, and the snippets of story you're granted aren't interesting enough to keep you pushing on.

It's a real shame, because it looks marvellous, and on paper it sounds brilliant. It's just unfortunate that the execution didn't quite pan out.

Trailblazers Switch review - "Stalls on just about everything"

Trailblazers is a great idea poorly executed, thanks to wonky controls and no real sense of achievement