Title: OlliOlli World
Release Date: February 8, 2022
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Private Division
Genre: Arcade Skater
The OlliOlli series found a place in my heart when it first launched on the Vita in 2014. The game had this simplistic 16-bit design and begged to be replayed endlessly as you attempted to best your score. However, similar to skateboarding, developer Roll7 had to evolve with the times to meet the demands of modern gamers and show just how much they’ve grown over the years. Olliolli World retains the try-and-try-again gameplay loop from its predecessor but doubles down on creating a world where players can engage with charming characters and plenty of new tricks.
OlliOlli World has a story of fate. As the protagonist, you make your way through Radlandia to become the next master of skateboarding. Yea, it’s not a completely necessary plot, but characters strike up some interesting conversations before and after stages. Luckily, these can be skipped and aren’t needed to enjoy the actual gameplay, but there’s an effort put into the characters’ personalities in case that’s what you’re looking for.
The cast grows across each area as new stages are unlocked, and new missions are given. The requirements to complete stages are relatively straightforward at first but become more complex later. Across the map are five different areas that contain a handful of stages. The opening area has many of the basic tricks, but you’ll be building your skills throughout each area.
Skating is what many players are here for, and Olliolli World doesn’t hold back. Each level is crafted in a way that should spark imagination in the player to attempt high score combos while meeting the goals of the stage. During a stage, you’ll have score challenges along with optional challenges that typically have players meet a combo requirement, trick off a specific object, or interact with the level somehow.
These challenges often require multiple playthroughs, thanks to another new feature being multiple paths. Know as “Gnarly Routes” in-game; players can make their way through the stages differently depending on which route they take. Further, some routes lead players to meet up with other characters who unlock new levels. These levels are optional challenges that will test your skills. However, I wouldn’t say I liked how meeting them broke my combo, but there’s really no issue with starting from a checkpoint since your score up until then is retained.
Executing tricks is tied to the analog sticks. The left stick controls flip tricks, and the right stick controls grab tricks. It took me a long while to get the hang of this trick system as my Tony Hawk mindset kicked in several times during the opening moments of gameplay.
However, it’s best to think of the experience as an arcade game and not make things so complicated. For example, grinding only requires you to hold down a direction on the left analog stick, and manualing can be done by holding X. Grabs are a little more challenging to incorporate into tricks as you need to let go of the grab to ensure you land.
There are also advanced and special tricks that players can execute, but I had to take my time with them. I was able to pull them off if I was really focused, but in a normal gaming environment, I stuck to the simple tricks unless a challenge required something else.
These tricks are just a little unconventional to pull off and, when combined with speed, can often lead to a fall. Ramps also give players the chance to spin and grab for high points, but again, timing is crucial if you want to actually land.
The game evolves as you play. Everything you do offers a chance to earn rewards in the form of cosmetic items. From the beginning, there’s a ton of options to choose from, but that list is almost endless as you continue to unlock more and more.
Further, you eventually unlock an additional island called Gnarvana that features online gameplay modes, including a league and procedurally generated levels to play for as long as you want. The league is interesting as you are pitted against a group of others and simply need to beat their score. There’s a time limit, but you can make multiple attempts to get the top spot. It keeps the competition tight and becomes more demanding as you climb the ranks.
Olliolli World is an incredibly colorful game that could be described as whimsical. It retains an indie design, but this more modern choice makes the game far more appealing to a broader group of gamers. The tracklist is comprised of low-fi beats that keep you relaxed across multiple attempts.
One thing of note is that the difficulty of the stages ramps up quickly, which is strange after such a slow start. Everything is pretty straightforward and then there’s a spike of longer and larger levels that add frustration to the mix. I would have preferred a more refined increase in challenge or perhaps an option for players to play through an easier version of the levels.
OlliOlli World opens the door for new and old fans with casual and hardcore systems to master. Its controller layout takes some getting used to, and the level difficulty ramps up quickly, but there’s so much here to keep you invested. It’s a game that demands to be replayed, and luckily it’s so damn fun that that isn’t an issue, and the sheer amount of content will keep you skating for hours.
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