Full disclosure: I have never owned a Skateboard. I may have fallen off a few in my time but that is the full extent of my boarding prowess. I do generally wear old skool skating trainers but that is more to do with the comfort factor and their timeless look than a tendency to spend my free time grinding away down a stiff bar on a derelict patch of concrete. I am therefore the perfect XboxEra staff member to take a look at the freshest release from Developers Roll7 and publishers Private Division. It is probably still not cool to wear pads and a helmet when boarding so ‘let’s roll’ with no regard for personal safety into the XboxEra review of OlliOlli World.
The OlliOlli titles so far have been known for having a difficulty level that is a somewhat challenging proposition for casual gamers. This, the third game in the ‘skateboarding action-platformer’ series has been designed to be a more inclusive experience than its predecessors. New skills are drip-fed via tutorials at a leisurely pace this time around so as not to overwhelm players that are new to this type of experience.
Got skillz?, they multiplying?
In practise this means that you are introduced to a new skill and then have to complete a very short run to prove that you have understood it. Over the next few levels, you practise that particular skill whilst doing your best to avoid numerous environmental hazards on each course. Only then are you introduced to the next skill via another tutorial.
Moving around the world of ‘Radlandia’ the aim of the game is to complete each section and gain entry to the home of the skating gods known as ‘Gnarvana’. In a very unusual move these tutorials are still being introduced throughout the later parts of the game. Leaving the training area ‘Sunshine Valley’ does not mean that you have finished with your training. There are over one hundred different moves to learn, perfect and create combos with, in OlliOlli World and this softly, softly approach has obviously been designed this way to break players in gently while not totally overwhelming them. Obviously, for old hands who already know everything Olli there is the option to avoid explainers and just steam on through the game.
In order to progress you have to complete each level very much like a ‘Trials’ game. Refreshingly you only have to make it to the finish line in order to do this. Mercifully players like me with not exactly ‘lightning fast’ reflexes are able to eventually make it to the end of each course then move on to the next. Pulling off extra tricks can pretty much be ignored to allow total concentration on level completion. More skilful players can attempt the course as many times as they wish In order to crowbar as many moves and combinations into a run as they can. Building the highest score possible allows players to compete against rivals from all over the world.
Easy Like Some day Morning?
Even with the easier skill introductions this game is certainly not easy for beginners. I struggled for the first few hours due to the sheer number of different button combinations required to pull off what could be considered fairly intermediate level moves. Picking up my controller the next day I was surprised how everything seemed much easier, suggesting that once a certain level of muscle memory has been attained everything kind of falls into place. I found it easier to complete the mid sections of the game than I did the first but then started to struggle again as things got more complex in ‘Sketchside’.
Trying to understand my level objective was sometimes made more difficult by the inane explanations of my skating crew (play the game to see what I mean here, the B button got mashed a lot between levels) and the sheer speed of the gameplay. I was generally travelling so fast when I wiped out that I could not spot what I was required to do to avoid the hazard. Luckily there are save points dotted along each course but some of these took many, many attempts to get to and once I did it was almost a certainty that the next obstacle would have me off my board and on my arse. Using these save points I tended to instantly relax, satisfied that I had managed to find one, while they were actually signalling that something bad was coming up just out of view.
I did however find that in moments of frustration when I was struggling to progress, the best course of action was to focus on my avatar and not the course ahead of me. Doing this I was able to enter a Zen like state and drift past obstacles that had held me up for far too long just by using my reflexes and not concentrating too hard. Maybe it had something to do with the soothing tunes playing in the background with chilled music cancelling out rage inducing level design.
There are hidden depths to be uncovered as you progress through Radlandia. Side quests can be unlocked, strange character’s scores can be beaten and rewards can be won. Alternate routes are available within the levels with the ‘Gnarly’ route sometimes turning out to be easier than the vanilla option. Locations vary from an alien infested Area 51 to giant bee infested woodland, lumber mills and a pretty sketchy beach area. These are all a joy to behold and the visual aspect of the experience never gets stale.
OlliOlli World has been designed with maximum replayability in mind. Different challenges mix things up and the introduction of various hazards such as crystals which can only be smashed by the action of grabbing your board in mid air were really enjoyable parts of the game. I did get confused with the controller scheme at one point and tried to pull off a grab with right trigger instead of right thumbstick which resulted in me crashing straight into the biggest crystal in the level.
For me though, the highest praise should be reserved for the absolutely amazing level of avatar customisation available here. From the very start you can get absolutely lost in the sheer depth of items on offer to you. It is almost a mini game in itself but I thoroughly enjoyed creating a skater that looked like me. As I progressed and earned special items I continued to tinker with my look and my board design to the very end of my playthrough, which for me is very unusual.
If you are thinking of getting your board out you could do far worse than having a skate around this world. While not exactly easy, if you are prepared for a bit of frustration and try, try, try again it is a worthwhile experience. Some of the dialogue may be a bit clunky here and there, but at least you can skip most of it. The art style is perfectly suited to the gameplay and those of you with a ‘just one more go’ mindset could find yourselves having some very late nights ahead of you if you pick this title up.
|Reviewed on||Xbox Series X|
|Release Date||February 8th, 2022|
|Available on||Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4|5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Microsoft Windows|
|Publishers||Private Division, Take-Two Interactive|
|Rated||E for Everyone|
- Easier to play than previous games in the series.
- Has a very chilled Soundtrack.
- Amazing levels of Avatar customisation.
- Players are drip-fed new skills as the game progresses.
- Not an easy game for new starters.
- Can be frustrating at times when unable to progress.
- Lots of different button combinations need to be learnt and remembered.
- Very fast paced at times.