OlliOlli World is the third entry in Roll7's side-scrolling platforming skateboard game franchise, following OlliOlli and OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood. As the inclusion of “World” in the title would suggest, OlliOlli World builds on and expands over these past entries in strong ways. It’s not what many may expect when they hear “skateboarding game,” but it holds its own in comparisons to games like Skate and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Whereas most skateboarding titles focus on realism (or some semblance of it), OlliOlli World brings in more fantastical elements and really lets them shine. From the get-go, OlliOlli World is very expressive in terms of its own identity, throwing players into a prologue filled with over-the-top skateboarding puns and language that befits the setting’s name: Radlandia. The overall graphics have a hand-drawn feel and look like something straight out of Adventure Time, welcoming players into this experience whether they are newcomers or veterans.
In Radlandia, the OlliOlli World player’s goal is to meet all the “Skate Godz,” master various tricks of the trade, reach enlightenment in “Gnarvana,” and ultimately become the new Skate Wizard. Players can tailor this experience by designing their own character, changing everything from their clothes to their body size. Players can also customize their skateboards, including trucks and wheels, how a player pushes off, how a player ends a run, and more. As players meet “Skate Godz,” they unlock mastery challenges that can provide even more customization options, as well as other methods in the game.
Radlandia is divided into five distinct sections, all utilizing different environments: the beach-like Sunset Valley, the woodlands of Cloverbrook, the wastelands of Burnt Rock, the industrialized Sketchside, and the appropriately named Los Vulgas. Players have to complete a certain number of runs in each area, with any story elements slowly being revealed by new characters including the current Skate Wizard, Mike, who hosts the various challenges per run, and an awkward skater named Dad.
The story isn't particularly deep, but it’s sufficient in explaining what the player must do to become the next Skate Wizard, primarily meeting and impressing the various Skate Godz. Beyond the standard side-scrolling levels, players can complete trick-oriented challenges, unlock side quests, beat the scores of local heroes, and more. Overall, there’s a lot of extra content packed into the game.
Some of that even translates over to the levels in OlliOlli World, which feature a number of branching paths and alternate routes. Players can also unlock side quests on the overworld map, which adds some nice twists to the core gameplay loop. There are not as many side quests as one would expect from something like a sprawling open-world RPG, but there’s enough to provide a nice break when needed.
In OlliOlli World, players will almost certainly need to take breaks. OlliOlli World’s gameplay is the definition of “easy to learn, hard to master,” as players will primarily use their left and right sticks. One face button is important in the moment-to-moment gameplay, but otherwise, most buttons have limited, if any, importance for the core gameplay. What this does is create incredibly tense gameplay, as players must flick and hold their sticks at the right time and in the right place when completing a run.
Grinding, wall rides, and jumps are controlled by the left stick, for example, and players will have to transition through these in the levels by flicking or holding their stick at the right time. Timing is everything in OlliOlli World, as a moment too soon or a moment too late can end a run, forcing players to reset. With the focus on the sticks, it’s really easy to get thumb confusion by the necessary placement and the hold. Grinding on a rail is best done by holding down on the left stick, as an example, but it can still be done as long as it’s held in any direction. Holding up will work on a grind, but if players have to jump after, it becomes much more challenging.
Toss in the right stick managing grabs, a face button used to land on chairs, and the dynamic, sometimes moving environment, and it can be a tough control scheme to master. Despite the potential complexities in the stick-focused gameplay, however, OlliOlli World manages to be an almost cottagecore game experience too. Even if players have to reset, riding through a side-scrolling game, nailing these tricks, enjoying the lovely art, seeing dynamic set pieces (like bees, frogs, and crystal floors), and hearing a vibrant soundtrack make for an incredibly mellow experience. Few games can nail relaxing environments and tough challenges, and OlliOlli World is a standout because of this.
That said, there are a few gameplay faults that can bring the overall OlliOlli World experience to a halt. Checkpoints, for example, are far and few between in some levels, while they may seem to be everywhere in another. By and large, they are usually okay, but a few checkpoints also put players too close to a tricky area. This can make it hard to build the proper momentum to skate through the area, creating a layer of artificial difficulty on top of everything else.
At the same time, there is a warning when booting up the game that it is fast, and it can certainly be that. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep up with where the player is, and that makes the timing of tricks even harder to hit. It’s not a huge problem all the time, as most levels feel regulated by a really fun gameplay flow, but sometimes that flow becomes absolutely unhinged.
Roll7 ensures that OlliOlli World is the kind of game that players can sit down, enjoy, beat in a weekend, never play again, and have warm feelings about. It’s also the kind of game that’s perfect for quick sessions when just looking for something to play for a few minutes. But, if players want more still, OlliOlli World delivers that too.
Players can visit Gnarvana to generate “forever levels” with certain settings for skill level and environments, while continuing to push for mastery. They can also just generate “chill” levels for that uniquely relaxing experience the game can provide too. On top of that, there are asynchronous multiplayer leagues where players can compete against others to achieve the highest score possible. This definitely leans into the more intense aspects of the game, really giving players the best of both worlds.
OlliOlli World is a unique and fun skateboarding game, despite a few flaws here and there, and it holds its own against more “mainstream” skateboarding games like Skate. Even if players have never picked up an OlliOlli title before, OlliOlli World is worth its price tag.
OlliOlli World releases February 8 for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. Game Rant was provided with an Xbox Series X code for the purposes of this review.
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