First shown off at the Nintendo Indie Direct, OlliOlli World is the third entry in the OlliOlli series, taking some bold gameplay steps forwards for the 2d skate game.
We got to try out the game for ourselves thanks to our friends at Private Division, here’s our thoughts on the upcoming skate adventure set in the wonderfully wild world of Radlandia:
One way the OlliOlli series has really just shown its guts is with its visual change. Unlike prior OlliOlli games, World has a 3d-but-looks 2D style, and a cartoonish look that screams Pendleton Ward’s Adventure Time series. Considering just how bizarre the world of Radlandia gets, it’s a great fit.
There’s also the fact that the colors are just gorgeous, being both functional in that the bright colors mark what’s relevant to gameplay, and also aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
Seriously, considering how often games tied to a sport push to be as realistic as possible, it’s nice to see a game based on skating that’s not just 3d scanned models of humans. Skate culture is just as much about the art as it is the sport, and OlliOlli World really embraces that with its charmingly delightful visuals and whimsical setting of giant bees, blue frogs and talking trees.
Challenging, But Not Punishing
OlliOlli World retains both the game’s signature difficulty, while also keeping it open for new players not familiar with the 2d skate game’s playstyle. It’s got this interesting new Play At Your Level system, where the game has different pathways that you can take that require different skill levels.
I really enjoy this, because instead of just having difficulty sliders, baking the difficulty into the level itself is really interesting, letting you choose on the fly without some sort of flag chastising you for wanting to have a good time.
Meanwhile there’s also a lot of potential for self discovery, since the harder route isn’t locked behind some “God-Slaying Master of Skate” mode. It’s a great way for players to mess around and find out what works for them, meaning there’s also a window for players to find out they’re better at the game than they previously thought.
Of course it’s not like the game is perpetually three parallel tracks. So far the branches tend to be up to the level’s individual design, and many of the paths will head to dead ends meaning you’ll have to go back to one particular path.
The hands-on we got was more like an extended tutorial for the game, letting you learn the basics of the skate-based platformer. The tricks feel really fun to do, and the game’s scoring system means you’ll absolutely need to get the hang of the basics like Wall Riding or Grinding to get enough points to clear.
You’re also able to use the left stick to do tricks, with a pretty intuitive any-direction approach.
The Momentum Of Success
One thing I really like about OlliOlli World is that momentum is really important. Many of the game’s features will require you to build up some speed first, which makes the game feel way more enjoyable since it’s not just about hitting the right button at the right spot, but your actions before that point also matter.
A great example is the wallriding tutorial, which you’ll absolutely struggle through if you pre-emptively jump to get up on the board. While you may start a little higher, simply riding through the ramp will get you enough forwards momentum to get a pretty decent score before hopping off the billboards.
Thankfully if you do mess up, OlliOlli World is also pretty generous, giving you checkpoints at a decent enough rate. You’ll never lose too much progress, so you’re free to fail jumps at your leisure, especially since the game doesn’t have a life bar to punish you too hard.
The best way to describe it is challenging but not punishing, which is a great thing for a game to be.
For skaters seeking the ultimate challenge, the OlliOlli World Preview session had time trials, which truly test your ability. They acted as good bookends for the hands-on session, as most of the levels we were given were more of tutorials for the game’s concepts. In contrast, being made to execute everything we’d learned perfectly before the clock runs out felt really good, although we would be lying if we said it wasn’t extremely challenging.
A Host of Characters
Aside from its stellar gameplay, OlliOlli World also has a charming cast of characters, all with their own roles in the story. From the levels we’ve played, most of them just add flavor to the level, by talking you through it at the start. The developers have said they’ll have a bigger role in the full version of the game though, so expect more of them soon.
Function aside, I feel like OlliOlli World’s cast really grew on me. Ensemble casts built around a hobby are always nice, and OlliOlli’s is especially pleasant because the gang are just so, well, nice to each other. There’s no real forced drama, it’s just a bunch of skaters hanging out.
On top of that, there’s also NPCs hanging around the levels, which you can interact with to unlock the aforementioned time trials. You’ll have plenty of reason to come back to the levels thanks to these guys, since you’ll need to find one per level to get all the bonus stages.
All in all, it looks like OlliOlli World is shaping up to be a a fun mix of skate games and 2d sidescrollers. I’m especially fond of the alternate routes, since sometimes you really do just wanna take it easy while other times you want more of a challenge. On top of that the combos feel great, and it’s just everything you might want from a sidescrolling skate game.
The game has no set release date yet, though you can expect to see it some time in 2022.