Developers Roll7 describe their titles as ‘Flow State Gaming.’ In OlliOlli World, their third side-scrolling skateboard platformer, trance-like concentration connects masterfully to an almost mesmerizing experience, reflecting the real-life vibrancy and inclusivity of skateboarding culture. This inclusivity is most felt in OlliOlli World’s more approachable gameplay mechanics. Roll7 have made efforts towards World being easier to pick up and roll with than its predecessors.
"On your journey to Gnarvana, through the humorously titled land of Radlandia’s five distinct biomes, you’ll breeze through visually striking vistas."
On your journey to Gnarvana, through the humorously titled land of Radlandia’s five distinct biomes, you’ll breeze through visually striking vistas. Its eye-pleasing aesthetics now exist in 2.5D, with levels revealing a multitude of optional pathways to explore, and secret challenges aplenty to discover. You see, Roll7, remarkably, have made improvements to every core feature in the previous OlliOlli titles. Long-time fans will be happy though as whilst the barriers to entry for newcomers are much less severe, gameplay retains is ultra-high skill ceiling. Series newcomers though can delight in the pleasure of simply cruising through the game, with frustrating moments gracefully rare.
Core controls remain from the first two games –tap X on a PS4 controller to push-off and build speed, with all manner of ollies, flips, and grinds possible with a flick or hold of the left thumb stick. The right stick is reserved for grabs – a feature new to the series – but these are revealed later. OlliOlli World does a commendable job of steadily introducing its increasingly advanced techniques, doing well to drip-feed you just at the point when you’ve got a handle on the skills already taught.
What I would say is initially these controls weren’t immediately intuitive to me. I’m willing to concede that this might be down to my 20-odd-year experience playing another famous skateboarding series; rewiring my brain to avoid pressing triangle to grind took some mental legwork. I still hit it on accident from time to time, but largely this is my experience and not necessarily a fault with the game’s design. It could just indicate that the approachability for newcomers in the game’s design might still require some effort to grasp for certain players.
One positive to note is Roll7 have done away with the requirement to press X at the precise time to nail a perfect landing. In previous OlliOlli games, this was a requirement to continue flow and avoid sloppy skating. OlliOlli World does continue with this mechanic, but it’s optional. You’ll still rack up combo points when executing perfect landings, but your zen-like flow won’t be disturbed should you opt to avoid precision.
"OlliOlli World does a commendable job of steadily introducing its increasingly advanced techniques, doing well to drip-feed you just at the point when you’ve got a handle on the skills already taught."
OlliOlli World’s gameplay loop also emphasises you retry. Should you spill, a quick tap on triangle and you’re instantly back to the most recent checkpoint. This rapid-fire retry avoids players feeling disheartened. It’s a design-trick we’ve seen before in games such as challenging pixel-perfect platformer Celeste, with its accessibility mechanics practically willing you to the summit of that game’s titular mountain. A similar trick is deployed here, best described as a feeling of support, as if your ragtag bunch of companions are cheering you on, reassuringly, keeping me motivated to retry trickier sections.
Just to point out, checkpoints are a new feature too. Purists might scoff at the sanitised challenge afforded by checkpoints, but rest assured they’re also optional. Hold triangle instead of tapping, and you’ll be right a back to the start of the level to give the whole thing another go.
Levels are short too. They rarely go beyond a couple of minutes, but just like your skillset, they’ll grow in complexity. By the time you hit the neon canyons of the game’s fifth area, you’ll have grown accustomed to vertical ramps, moving platforms, slimy obstacles, smashable floating crystals, you name it. Chaining combos together with manuals between death defying obstacles feels immensely satisfying. Plus, they’re a sure-fire way to rack up an impressive point total if that’s your thing.
Finishing the level is enough to advance to the next, of course, but OlliOlli World is filled with challenges. Each level has point totals that are set by local rivals who you’ll meet on your travels. Not all of them particularly stand out as memorable, but they’ll offer a range of targets, some easily attainable, and some downright astronomical. Together with the challenges set by your travel buddy Mike, there’s plenty of opportunity for unlocking a raft of cool clothing, accessories, and skate decks with which to customise your character.
"Finishing the level is enough to advance to the next, of course, but OlliOlli World is filled with challenges. Each level has point totals that are set by local rivals who you’ll meet on your travels. Not all of them particularly stand out as memorable, but they’ll offer a range of targets, some easily attainable, and some downright astronomical."
I had a ton of fun re-dressing my character between each biome, but admittedly there are a huge number of things to wear so it can feel overbearing finding something which stands out that you’d like to see your character wearing. A little more finesse in the customisation menu screens – perhaps a sub-menu, or grouped items, would have worked a treat.
Interestingly though, some of the game’s challenges require you to rethink how you approach a level. They’ll suggest you avoid using certain elements, like avoiding wallriding, for instance. This fresh perspective imposed on the player encourages meaningful replayability. Remember the high-skill ceiling I mentioned earlier? Well, some of OlliOlli World’s challenges are delightfully devilish, teasing you with the feeling that a three-chain combo with unique grinds and 180-degree rotations is just within reach. If you’re the sort of player that doesn’t thrive under frustrating gameplay, then again, you’re welcome to miss these challenges entirely. Your reward for completing them are merely cosmetic, after all.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll also unlock masteries. Essentially, every time you successfully perform an advanced technique, the mastery will add it to your overall total, with further rewards on offer for hitting sizeable targets. It’s the game’s way of encouraging you to keep using the skills it teaches you, to naturally develop them into your ever-growing arsenal of tricks.
Elsewhere, the online multi-player portion of the game is found in technicolour Gnavarna – a playground of sorts where you can partake in leagues, whereby nailing combos amasses a score in league competition with nine other skaters. It’s a decent enough feature but I lost connection with my league’s server a couple of times – any issues of this sort will hopefully be ironed out by the time the game is released. The second multi-player feature allows you to generate a level by setting aesthetic parameters and difficulty. You’ll then get a code which you can share with your mates for them to have a go too. It’d be nice if there was the ability to compete in real-time though. Hopefully this feature will be introduced later down the line.
"Every time you successfully perform an advanced technique, the mastery will add it to your overall total, with further rewards on offer for hitting sizeable targets. It’s the game’s way of encouraging you to keep using the skills it teaches you, to naturally develop them into your ever-growing arsenal of tricks."
If it wasn’t clear already, it feels great nailing the perfect landing that you’ve been chasing for the best part of 20 minutes. For me at least, the game’s trickier sections became more manageable when I had clarity of thought. As a game which aims to attain a gliding sense of flow, I’d say OlliOlli World succeeds.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Smooth, satisfying gameplay; Steady introduction of more complex tricks; Optional, interesting challenges making replayability meaningful; Beautiful, cartoon-like aesthetic.
Some tertiary characters are forgettable; Controls maybe not quite as intuitive as Roll7 hoped; Bloated character customisation menus.