Roll7's latest title makes for an amazing and demanding arcade game for all skateboarding lovers.
It has been a long time since I've paid as much attention to an arcade game as I have to OlliOlli World. I jumped on Roll7's skateboarding title some weeks ago, and since then, I have been enthralled. Their previous instalments in the series (especially the second one, which won our colleague Mike's heart) already had the basis to build this third part; varied settings, lots of obstacles and surfaces to grind at full speed, and a demanding difficulty, which will drive you crazy more than once.
The first thing that stands out is its colourful visuals. Since it has noticeable cartoon details and a colour palette, which seems to explore every pastel colour in the world, it instantly reminded me of cartoon series such as Adventure Time not only because of its animation style, but also because of that touch of humour that permeates through the rest of the aspects of the game. That is one of the innovations that didn't appear before because, even though it's not the strong point of the game, OlliOlli World has a storyline.
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We put ourselves in the shoes of an unknown skater who is bound to be the next skateboarding legend in Radlandia. Thanks to the guide and good tips that a group of charismatic colleagues give us, we learn all the tricks and skills to join the skate gods in Gnarvana —the Olympus for the greatest stars of the sport. It is not the most original premise and it seems to add little to the narrative, yet it provides a small thread with which we follow the minor character's remarks, and also provides context for the different areas of the game. Each of said areas connects with a skate god and has a distinctive style. Altogether, there are five areas with an average of 18 levels per area, and every one of them is defined by a certain aesthetic along with skills and obstacles that come up at each level that we unlock by completing every "race". There are individual challenges for each level, and a set of predetermined scores to challenge ourselves with overcoming.
Every time we accomplish a goal or a level, we'll unlock new aesthetic improvements for our avatar; suits, hairstyles, accessories, and even new skins for boards and wheels. There are near infinite options for our avatar to be unique and distinct, but even with such a massive character customisation section, what really shines in this game it's its astonishing playability, for lack of a better term. Because every level in OlliOlli World is a merciless challenge. The tutorials at the beginning of every area will show you the basis of a new trick, but every level gets exponentially more complicated once you pass them, and every mistake will force you to start again from the last control point. We move at full speed through ramps and fences, jumping stairs and avoiding holes, and at the same time we're performing a range of possible tricks and stunts until we get to the finish line. After a certain point, we'll unlock alternative paths to the original one. They are called extreme routes, and even though their paths are more difficult, they can even unlock new secondary and special levels that are hidden in the map of the area. Such secondary routes carry out the storyline of the game in a very original way that invites you to discover it as you unlock them.
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Most of the jumps and tricks are made with the left stick, and every move must be also made at the right time if we don't want to smash into the floor. In the end, all this becomes a perfect choreography of your fingers on the controller in order to overcome the track at full speed, or you start again. You'll probably need to have a few attempts at each scenario, and some of them may have you racking up the number of attempts to the point of wanting to throw the controller through the nearest window. It doesn't feel unfair though. In my case, this was a major problem since the tension and the speed that the movements demanded made me fear for the safety of my own controller in my hands. Being able to reassign the controls would have helped this and been the cherry on top.
In spite of that, I couldn't stop trying to pass every level compulsively. Controlling my character and going down the crazy landscapes at full speed, and at the same time jumping and doing stunts was absolutely entertaining. Every new attempt taught me how to nail the movements better, and the all-important feeling of improvement as a player is constantly there. If you make a mistake, the game starts over almost immediately, something that is vital if you want to keep the frenetic rhythm of it. Playing online is not strictly necessary, although by the time you are a couple of hours in, you'll be hooked on getting a better score than the rest of the field. OlliOlli World has been one of the most enjoyable games I've played so far this year.
8 / 10
An addictive gameplay. We constantly feel like we're progressing and improving. The levels include several routes.
The control system will make your controller suffer. The storyline is quite boring and adds nothing new.