Reviews

OlliOlli World Review

OlliOlli has truly grown as a franchise from the beginnings like a simple side-scrolling skateboard game.  The very first two OlliOlli games featured some challenges and ideas to be performed while aiming to achieve your overall personal best.  This series hasn’t fundamentally changed from its core but put into its DNA with improved visuals while retaining a sharp difficulty curve to keep the difficulties rewarding.  The next step for that Roll7, the developers, ended up being to create an event that attracted more players and retained even greater visual polish, which in this case, means going 3D.  Continue reading for the review on OlliOlli World.

Roll7 showed the planet what they wanted to bring to us with OlliOlli World in April of 2022 in the Nintendo Indie Showcase, also it was truly striking.  The game had shifted to a quirky new art style to suit the 3D design, promised massive levels across the different biomes of the new world’s “Radlandia” and the ultimate goal was to achieve “Gnarvana” with plenty of fun characters and set pieces to help keep you entertained.  One particular goal seemed to be to produce a title having a low barrier of entry, as previous games in the city featured a high difficulty curve at the halfway point.  After working a few days diving deep in to the game’s challenges and completing a complete playthrough of the story, there’s plenty to like relating to this title, although many of its core concepts are retained, mostly brilliant with some caveats.

Forget Going Pro, Become a Skate Wizard

From an initial glance, OlliOlli World looks sharply different from the previous titles within the series, thanks to its change in art style from pixel art and parallax scrolling backgrounds to a colorful world which is all about skateboarding and supporting people who wish to become the best.  The sport happens in Radlandia, across 5 key biomes over which are each presided by among the Godz, stylistic spelling included.  This game should have a lower barrier to entry for more casual players, while still having a high number of enticing challenges for older fans of the originals, but for the greater degree, this is reasonably clear.  You can be whoever you need to be in our planet, and change yourself at any point right down to size and the body shape straight from the game menu.  Your goal is straightforward but represents a long journey – skate using the Godz and achieve Gnarvana in your quest across Radlandia to become Skate Wizard.

From the very beginning, you know you’re set for something special, while you begin with the basics in Sunshine Valley, the very first game world, and are given two brief tutorials on movement and tricks using the simple control scheme.  The basics largely involve heavy utilisation of the left control stick for that bulk of your actions, different movements leading to aerial tricks when you release the stick again, with Pushing (pressing A/B/X with respect to the system) meant to build momentum before starting a combo.  What develops from there is really up to you as the player, because you can take part in the very next levels armed simply with the fundamentals, or you can experiment a bit more using the controls.  It’s an intuitive control scheme, although when you are to the levels with greater difficulty scaling you’ll find it’ll be testing your dexterity and even running your thumbs raw or feeling your wrist secure.  This isn't a problem but proof of how addictive the sport itself is and an unfortunate side-effect of how involved the gameplay could be.

A Feast for the Eyes and Ears

OlliOlli World’s many strengths lie in the art style, sound and music, leaderboard integration, and extremely deep gameplay.  No two playthroughs of the level will be the same which is supplemented by what you learn while you play, a soundtrack that’s constantly playing which you can control at any point, and just what you choose up from seeing other players’ accessible replays.

The Rad Visuals

Radlandia is visually stunning, utilizing an art style similar to Jet Set Radio while setting itself apart, utilizing a minimalist color and shade scheme so the elaborate backdrops don’t pull focus while playing, but can be admired.  OlliOlli World incorporates the key set pieces organically, setting their colors to be recognizable along the track including brightly-colored grind rails, walls meant for wall-riding, stairs, ramps, and much more.

OlliOlli World ensures introducing you to a diverse cast of characters, beginning with your primary crew and expanding outward while you progress.  First, there’s Suze, a sassy amateur videographer with dreams to have her work recognized by Tryfecta, who is essentially the skateboard media; Suze represents your audience, seeking to get past all the chaff and obtain right seeing you perform cool tricks.  Mike may be the group’s journalist, whose magazine documents would-be Skate Wizards like yourself.  There’s Dad, the group’s resident ‘oldhead’ who quickly explains to you that it’s just a nickname he was handed, named after his father to which every player should groan and never be amazed.  Then there’s Chiffon, the present Skate Wizard who acts are the group’s Sherpa on your pilgrimage to meet the Godz and ascend to Wizard status.  The crew all serve either basic gameplay or essential flavor element towards the game, as well as their dialogues are memorable, but easily skippable should you just want to arrive at the game.  There are lots of other characters you’ll meet who distinctively represent their house regions and just what they bring about greater Radlandia, however your crew is still the most important and supportive.

The characters of the game are oftentimes unique and feature a choppy, low framerate movement when emoting which seems to take cues from recent films like Spider-Man: In to the Spiderverse.  This feels intentional, because it seems to accentuate their actions consequently, as if these were to stay fluid in these movements as with the whole remaining game, these characters using their lanky proportions would feel almost Muppet-like in a bad way.  This style results in a distinctive rendition from the in-game characters and provide their response to events more clarity.

The individual game worlds feel unique and carry over the creativity from previous OlliOlli titles in their designs.  The biomes of the five parts of Radlandia span across beaches of Sunset Valley, Cloverbrook’s forests, Burntrock’s deserts, Sketchside industrial parks, or even a vast metropolis in Los Vulgas.  It seems like you because the player ask yourself, “let's say I could skate through a factory” and so the game answers you promptly, having a sight to behold laden with crazy challenges.  Particular highlights include the many amounts of Cloverbrook, as well as its distinctive denizens like worker bees and Logfolk (sentient trees) where you encounter incredible, rustic yet groovy stages that feel rewarding to return to after you’ve added to your skill repertoire.  Other visual treats include Burntrock’s crashed UFO sites, Sunshine Valley’s muscle beaches the place to find buff seagulls, industrial skateparks featuring Dad’s Shop, and the Gilded Palace level within the final world.  Many of these levels, when in motion, really are a sight to behold with different palettes that feel appropriate and pleasing towards the eye and among the top popular features of farmville.

Chill Lo-Fi Beats

OlliOlli World carries over another element from previous installments in the form of its soundtrack, which features the works of various indie artists like Fardust and Nikitch following recent musical trends.  The result is a mix of lo-fi and electronic music and lots of other genres which will make heavy use of synthesizer and soft yet punchy beats.  This permits the player to experience the game in a relative state of peace, that is helpful especially when you approach the greater challenging levels.

The sound design of the game is also great, with responsive sound clips as you skate, grind as well as ride downstairs.  Simple things like set up grind rails are metal or logs as with Cloverbrook, also show the interest to detail while keeping you immersed.  There’s also nice feedback like when you’re grinding and executing a grab, then grind switch, with just enough audible feedback to let you know it’s been performed if you don't take your skills off the action.  The sport also makes sure to remind you when you’ve completed challenges, beaten score benchmarks, or just cleared the aim while allowing you to keep a clear head – no big banners on the middle of the screen.  One nice thing if you are using the PlayStation is the fact that Roll7 made sure to include the controllers’ speakers when you’ve not got your headphones plugged in, with the skating sound effects playing through them.

Skate Using the Best of Them

Roll7 is implementing a nice online component to this game using the integration of Leaderboards and Leagues now.  Every level that is not a tutorial includes a set of Local Heroes essentially representing a score you need to exceed, to get in-game rewards, but beyond that players can make an effort to have their scores sitting towards the top.  Each level’s leaderboards are directly visible whenever you pause the sport or simply before you begin the amount, and you may even hover over certain scores to watch the replay, and even study from these players to determine the best way to enhance your technique.  I’ve personally learned a lot out of this function, and it’s elevated my skills to the point where I’ve had the opportunity to take the #1 spot on levels in Sunset Valley and Sketchside, however, these could be overtaken at any point as more players are available in.

Additionally, as you clear regions of Radlandia and beat their respective Godz, you’ll unlock The Gnarvana Portal which lets you generate levels from the area as well as share all of them with other players.  This pushes the bounds even more on which this game can offer for replayability.  Once you’re pleased with the first playthrough and while you work on having your personal bests, you are able to pursue the Gnarvana League which is about obtaining the best score possible in new levels.  Each league event only lasts for a portion of the day, so it’s enough time to hone your skills and hopefully secure an area advancement within the ranks, starting from Bronze I and moving upward.  Again, you can view any replay in this including your own, to enhance your craft.

How it Feels to Play

OlliOlli World has done a tremendous job in making the sport feel as fluid and responsive as you possibly can.  Inputs feel quick and easy to adjust to, with a low barrier to entry but additionally a stratospheric skill ceiling.  Essentially, it’s simple to get and play, but mastering it is a moving target.  The game eases you along with simple mechanics and tutorials early on after which teaches you, other mechanics, together with adding levels that contain them more frequently.  Much of your controls are focused on the left stick because it influences your jumping as well as tricks, grinding on rails, even wall riding.  Other functions for other buttons permit you to can alter lanes within the level that might remind players of Donkey Kong Country Returns, or tap for Manual landing and grind switching or even late tricks, the lattermost being a very difficult mechanic.  There’s even some incorporation from the right stick and back shoulder buttons, which allow you to do spins and grabs to further accentuate your tricks, but be sure to release before landing, otherwise, you eliminate, or in this game’s terms, slam.  Throughout levels as well as the menus you’re also able to use the leading shoulder buttons to change the song that's playing.

The advanced tricks can be quite doable on early levels too, so they’re worthwhile to return to and enhance your personal bests.  As Gnarly Mike puts it in the game, you can essentially slowly move the left stick around just like a ninja and expect different tricks when you decide to try the environment.  You may also nail all of the tricks within the Trickipedia (carried over in the original games, their email list of all tricks) entirely accidentally and become notified with the corresponding achievement.  Grinding and wall-riding feel especially good in this game, and once you learn to execute manual landings or grind switches, your combos will require off and you’ll visit a dramatic improvement to your scores.

Radlandia’s cast of characters, particularly your crew but for others like various regions’ local heroes, make their mark on the gameplay in fascinating ways throughout.  There’s Chiffon, who serves as your respawn point, Mike, who sets typically a set of 3 challenges for you to complete for a reward, as well as hidden characters you'll find to unlock sidequests, essentially brand new levels within the area you’d otherwise avoid seeing.  One thing to note is, if Suze is capturing all of this survive video and following journey in a world where you largely travel via skateboard, she should have a go at becoming a Wizard too.

You will find yourself improving in the way you play the game as time goes on, and although you are able to complete most levels simply by pulling basic tricks to receive from point A to suggest B, it’s best to broaden your horizons and embrace the mechanics of the game shows you, as it’s more visually pleasing to see your character reacting to all the crazy stunts they are able to perform along with the level and push your limits.

To complement the visual type of the game and 3D world with 2D platforming elements, the setting moves pleasingly by and you may note standout elements within the environments when you play.  When you change lanes and see other areas of the level, whether it is for exploration or to find something simple like a giant frog riding a fly so you can knock them from the air for any challenge, you see the moment replayability and array of choices to improve later runs.  Many levels have local crowds at nearby ramps or slopes, so make sure to placed on a show with some of the best tricks, many of these will even be featured in challenges.  The game is endlessly fun but can be intimidating for newer or even more casual players looking to just clear each level.  That said, they’ll get to savor the visuals and characters along the way.

Gnarly Challenges May be Intimidating

OlliOlli World is flawless in many ways, and just a couple of visual glitches even occurred after dozens of hours spent playing, but does still come with some minor issues.  While Mike’s challenges are cost effective for the most part and enhance just how long you'll be able to savor a level, the neighborhood Heroes point benchmarks become inconsistent in their expectations especially once you clear the third area, Burntrock.  Suddenly, once you’re taught the advanced mechanics more directly which you might have been using all along, or could be experiencing the very first time, the sport remains playable on the basic level but to hit the score benchmarks, you’ll be left getting obsessed with how to optimize your runs.

A game that’s intended to be played in small bursts has lots of reason to become difficult, but to have such a drastic vary from a reasonable difficulty curve to some massive spike seems like one of the more unpleasant features carried over from the previous games.  The final amounts of a area, even with a reasonable challenge in every of these, feel more doable than many given quantity of a 4th and 5th areas for hitting Local Heroes benchmarks, which feels odd.  Consequently, it feels like it falls just short of having the full game’s base content accessible to all players.  OlliOlli fans who played previous games won't see the issue, which is fair, however in an offer to appeal to a greater audience, this feels like a shortcoming.  You may accomplish x100 combos or more and still not get to the goal, and end up stepping away in frustration, but it’s still highly rewarding for those who proceed.

Worldbuilding in Focus A lot more than Story

Radlandia is an intriguing game world and it is full of great biomes, some of which convey more fascinating stories than the others.  Cloverbrook has interesting elements of environmentalism and even some messages like “Save the Bees” could be taken to heart even if they’re delivered cheekily.  Sketchside is an absolute highlight of the world as numerous from the core components of the sport world like designs for skateboards, parts, tattoos, and outfits, are created there.  Some Godz tend to be more memorable than the others, like Radysus and Technicolas, but others feel somewhat shoehorned in like a bid to raise the stakes in the game and remind players it gets more difficult after that in an exceedingly “princess is within another castle” way.

Many of the given world’s local heroes are generally essential to the planet, or because of the role of ‘fanboy who met x area’s God’ and also the developers are injecting some self-awareness into how this really is all structured.  The storyline itself is rather basic; you’re crossing through these realms and learning their respective tricks so you can be a full-fledged Skate Wizard.  The dialogues are entirely skippable but don’t do so if you wish to read an array of amusing puns and learn small details about the characters.

What to anticipate Going Forward

OlliOlli World is exceptionally replayable, and despite a problem curve that can be unreasonable at times, the hundreds of challenges and also the Gnarvana Portal will keep you occupied well after launch.  The internet component has enough difficulty and length options to customize your levels and play others generated around the world and keep you occupied well after launch, and you can always improve your rankings in Leagues.

The Verdict

On a technical and artistic level, OlliOlli World is definitely an exceptional title that will be loved by many people players for fast gameplay, stellar visuals, and fantastic music.  The sport is largely approachable, and even in its more difficult moments, it requires the chance to teach you all you need to know to achieve success, placing the onus you to score as high as you are able to.  This can result in some unreasonably high expectations to meet from the completionist standpoint.

Players who are familiar with challenging platformers including Celeste and user-generated Mario Maker levels will appreciate this game and all it provides, and becoming better at this game can seem to be practically euphoric when achieving flawless runs.  Because of the skateboarding/platforming mixture of genres, this really is apt to be embraced as a niche title and it has the potential to be filled with enough variety to help keep players occupied for some time and be just like entertaining to look at.  A simple playthrough without any flair is often as short as a few hours, but you can spend dozens getting all of the base challenges, in addition to ones set by Radysus for that postgame.  Roll7 has released an impressive game, and when you’re up to the task, you’ll possess a great way to spend your downtime.

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