Trials of the Blood Dragon truly excels once it breaks out of Vietnam. Where Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was a delirious take on cult 80s action, Trials of the Blood Dragon takes wider aim, featuring missions based on action-schlock homages, each with its own wild twist. One stage is a full-blown Hotline Miami hat-tip–complete with animal masks–that climaxes with a full-on drug hallucination level that shifts, rebuilds, and alters gravity on the fly. Another stage is a weird mash up of Big Trouble In Little China and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, complete with a minecart-based platforming.
Even with all this, the game manages to maintain a plot. The twins interact during and between levels while non-sequitur Saturday morning commercials intrude at random. It’s a strange, random mix of aesthetics, with the cartoonish twins and live-action commercials vying for attention, but each stage mimicks its source material with style. The wide variety of themes and referenes does a great job of staving off late-game boredom, and the twins are surprisingly enjoyable characters to be around, ribbing and complimenting each other in equal measure, despite the insanity that surrounds them.
As with other Trials games, Trials of the Blood Dragon demands frequent replays if you want to get the best rankings and unlockable items. There’s no shortage of goodies to collect, like extra costumes, but the stages are varied enough to be inviting all on their own without the promise of rewards. You will have to contend with boredom during a few unremarkable levels, but the game’s fun, mind-boggling stages leave the strongest impression. Whatever mad genius decided to smash the two series together should be commended: the mix is mostly a successful one, and where it fails, it’s at least failure in favor of trying something new.