REVIEW

REVIEW

OlliOlli World

February 7, 2022

GOOD

  • Slick and smooth gameplay
  • Lots of madcap character customisation
  • Interesting music options

BAD

  • Analogue stick controls take time to master
  • Artstyle and story won't be for everyone

GOOD

GOOD

A FREE-FLOWING SKATER THAT FEELS SIMPLY FANTASTIC WHEN MASTERED, BUT SOME RATHER UNIQUE CONTROLS AS WELL A PECULIAR ART STYLE AND STORY MEAN IT MAY TAKE SOME GETTING USED TO.

Skateboarding games have become a genre in themselves. We’ve all probably played a video game about skateboarding and probably have a list of our favourites. For me, it was the Tony Hawk 1 and 2 era; There was just something so fun and liberating about those experiences. However, as more and more skateboarding games were produced, they began to feel a little stale and soon they lost their mainstream popularity. However, the genre has seen a bit of a renaissance of late and while headline remakes have stolen much of the limelight, there have been a few Indie titles bringing something new to the table and OlliOlli World is one that falls into that category and immediately caught my eye.

The OlliOlli series is developed by Roll7. The original OlliOlli and launched, initially, on the PlayStation Vita. Later, the game made its way to a bunch of systems and the sequel OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood followed a similar path, although the PS4 is likely where a lot of us played them for the first time. The games have always been a 2D, mostly side-scrolling combination of skateboarding and platforming. It’s all about quick button presses and timing. OlliOlli World takes that basic premise and builds on it by introducing 3D elements to the side-scrolling world, a unique art style and tons of customisation. And, once you get the hang of it, I’m happy to report that it feels great and is a heck of a lot of fun.

Bad Radland

Now, before I jump into the really important aspects of this type of game – the great gameplay and mechanics – it is worth noting that there were a few things I didn’t enjoy, namely the story and to a lesser degree the art style. The basic storyline is that in the world of Radland a skater must be found to impress the five god-like beings that control different areas, and their respective skateboarding skills, and ultimately become ‘The One’ (think a much more zen and gnarly Neo from the Matrix). Unfortunately, while the quirky art style is actually what first drew me to the game and one that I still enjoy from afar – in combination with the deity-based stuff (which is just not for me), a lot of the character design around those themes actually started to put me off. I kept getting strange Nickelodeon’ AAAHH!!! Real Monsters’ or CN’s ‘Adventure Time’ vibes – and because I never liked those cartoons, these weren’t pleasant connections to make.

I kept getting strange Nickelodeon’ AAAHH!!! Real Monsters’ or CN’s ‘Adventure Time’ vibes – and because I never liked those cartoons, these weren’t pleasant connections to make.

Of course, that’s all very nitpicky and subjective. In fact, the very things I didn’t like may actually excite some of you out there. And for those of you that will feel like me, the good news is that the story is not really the point of a game like this and you can pretty much skip through most of it. That’s not a criticism of the writing though and I must admit the characters that you meet along the way are really full of life and endearingly quirky personalities. You meet this wonderfully oddball gang across five different lands. While the design of each land is largely familiar, they still feel different enough to warrant some exploration. Plus, on the very positive side, the customisation options for your own character are huge. I really enjoyed playing around with how my character looked and would do so after almost every few levels. And for someone that doesn’t often care for that aspect of modern games – that’s saying something. Plus, there’s also a great selection of music in the game and the option to quickly skip a song that you’re not enjoying. Music and skating games have a long history and this is such a small but super-cool feature. All that being said, what really got me excited and made my time with OlliOlli World feel worthwhile is how the game feels to play…

Grand Radland

As mentioned above – there are five areas to traverse in an overworld-map type arrangement. In each area, you find a series of levels (the first of which is a kind of tutorial) all featuring a new skill to learn (and then master) – jumping, using rails, wall-riding and so forth. It’s a familiar setup and works well because the levels are short and sharp and the basic goal is simply to reach the flag at the end of each level. However, there are extra challenges that encourage you to fulfil certain requirements before you reach the end. These range from simply trying to complete a level without respawning, to more complicated stuff like using alternative ‘gnarly’ routes or doing so while achieving long combos and ever-increasing high scores. For new players, the extra challenges can be a little overwhelming. However, because they are completely optional – as long as you ignore them you can have a really great time even as a newbie. In fact, my only gripe with the level-selection arrangement is that accidentally pressing B at the end of the opening dialogue within each level kicks you back out into the overworld map. This screen, for some reason, will also auto-highlight the last complete level rather than the current incomplete one. So, I often found myself skipping through some dialogue, accidentally pressing B and then selecting a stage I had already completed and having to start the process all over again.

You feel like a skating savant as you’ll expertly flick and slide and glide across entire levels in one long, lightning-fast combo!

And talking about controls, the way you perform almost every movement in the game is by using your analogue sticks. You actually flick your left analogue stick for jumps and rails – rather than the more traditional X and Triangle set-up. Call me old-fashioned but I found this quite hard to pick up. It’s not that it’s mechanically difficult to do. In fact, it’s quite intuitive and allows for a huge combination of moves. However, it does rely (at least in my case) on ignoring a heck of a lot of muscle memory around movement in both platformers and skating games you’ve played before. It’s just a different mindset. And at the start, it meant I often reset my run simply because my finger automatically bashed the X button when preparing for the next jump. It’s not a dealbreaker but it did drive me a bit bonkers early on.

However, once you get used to all the ‘flicking’ and your brain doesn’t need to think so hard for every movement; Once it all starts feeling more natural and you begin to combine jumps to manuals, rotations to rails and wallrides… Well, then is when something special happens. Initially, each run field feels difficult and disconnected. However, after every attempt, you learn a little more. And once you get into the flow of the game, you’ll find yourself expertly flicking and sliding and gliding across entire levels in one long, lightning-fast combo. Later levels become a truly exhilarating experience and you’ll start feeling like a skating savant. And once you’ve gotten the hang of all the movement, it’s then great to go back to previously beaten levels and unlock all those tougher achievements. It’s simply a great gameplay loop and I found it gratifyingly addictive. And it also means before long I predict we’ll be getting OlliOlli World experts pulling of insane combinations. And thanks to a (somewhat simple) but perfectly apt high-score based online mode – I can’t wait to see what people do with this game in the future!

It’s a simply great gameplay loop that’s gratifyingly addictive!

Glad Radland

As you can see I rather enjoyed the gameplay of OlliOlli World. Sure, there were some aspects that just weren’t for me (and that’s ok), but the gameplay is great and unique and once it clicks it feels amazing! It’s fun to have games like this on the Switch and if you’re looking for some quick reflex platforming with a twist, this is definitely one to keep an eye on.

 

February 7, 2022

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