OlliOlli World has immaculate vibes. Developer Roll7 has delivered an experience that is destined to dominate house shares. An action-platformer that will have you chasing leaderboard positions long into the night. A skateboarding video game that will force you to curse out strangers on the internet – you’ll never reclaim time spent angrily studying replays, helplessly watching as your best scores are dismantled with dizzying precision, but you’ll carry any lessons learned into your next run. And the next. And the next one after that.
OlliOlli World is undeniably effective at arresting attention. That’s a result, I think, of how successfully it captures the spirit of skateboarding. If you’ve never tried it IRL, street and vert skating is no joke. Behind every successful trick – whether you’ve seen it land on TikTok, dusty old VHS tapes, or out on the streets – are hours upon hours of wipe-outs. Bloodied knees, broken limbs, shattered pride; it comes with the territory. Skating teaches you that expertise in all things is gained through repetition, experimentation, and failure. This is the foundation that OlliOlli World’s play is built upon.
Possessed to Skate
Release Date: Feb 8, 2022
Platform(s): PS5, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Private Division
For those who have already sacrificed hours to the altar of OlliOlli games in years past, you’ll feel right at home in World. Roll7 has gone beyond refinement, but stopped short of total reinvention. Where there was once a dependency on landing tricks precisely to succeed, you’ll now need to settle into (and aggressively maintain) a steady rhythm of combining tricks to maximize your scoring potential. Composure is key, particularly as the combo system includes over a hundred normal and advanced tricks to draw from, with the levels extended to be more expansive, varied, and vibrant to accommodate.
If you’re coming in fresh – no surprise, as it has somehow been seven years since the release of OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood – the only thing you need to understand is that OlliOlli World is a game about control. More specifically, a mastery over input. The game begins by letting you grapple with a series of simple mechanics – tricks, grinds, spins, wall-rides, and manuals, cast largely between the sticks and triggers – and gradually opens up its 2D spaces enough for you to begin chaining them together. A delicate mess of movement etched across vibrant hand-drawn levels.
Land a trick, score some points – it couldn’t be easier. Soon enough, you’ll be completing challenges to obsessively earn new items of clothing and gear for your avatar. You’ll be completing solid runs too, showing the troupe of AI characters following you around that you’re more than capable of reaching Gnarvana to convene with the skate gods. There are five zones, and you’ll whip through the first few with relative ease. Soon enough, you’ll feel confident enough to start venturing off of the main paths to take the roads less traveled in levels, meeting weird characters, stumbling across side activities, and finding more perilous routes to maximize your combo counter. The first few hours are all kickflips and good times.
Now, and this will be different for everyone, there will come a point where you realize that everything you’ve accomplished so far amounts to little more than Baby’s First Kickflip. Come to Radlandia, they said. Check out the positive vibes, they said. I’ve spent countless hours obsessively trying (and failing) to hold a long-enough streak in online leagues to unlock a damned leather jacket – I keep seeing the avatar for an ‘Andrew W.K.’ showing off with fancy tricks in my loading screens and, on the off chance it’s actually him, I don’t want the Party Hard-maestro to think I’m sort of leather jacket-less scrub.
But that’s exactly what I am – OlliOlli World reminded me of that, just as OlliOlli and Welcome to Olliwood did before it. Once you complete the core campaign – little more than a cleverly-masked 10-hour tutorial – or begin to feel the steep incline of the difficulty curve beneath your feet, the real game begins. OlliOlli World changes once you smash your head against the skill ceiling, transforming from an enjoyable enough adventure to an inescapable hellscape where only the most diligent skaters survive. I’ve abandoned all hope of completing the late-game challenges and embraced the more impossible (and grossly more satisfying) task of beating high scores on every one of the damned levels. Not the ones created by Roll7 – although there’s plenty that’ll cramp your fingers – but the scores set by other OlliOlli World players.
Have you ever tried to scale the curved walls of a bowl with two rolled ankles and what you fear is a shattered wrist? The sharp difficulty incline in OlliOlli World dragged that memory out from the ol’ memory vault for me from my ill-advised skateboarding days, although the process of trial and error is far less painful in Roll7’s skate odyssey. While you should wear your protective pads before hitting the streets, there’s no need in OlliOlli World; eating shit doesn’t necessitate a trip to the emergency room – a simple button press will always send you back to the starting line, an instantaneous action that encourages you to embrace that ritual of repetition, experimentation, and failure.
Shut up and Skate
Skateboarding games are on the cusp of a renaissance. Skate and its successors are remerging back onto the scene, cleanly aiming to replicate the reality of nuanced deck control. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater limped out of retirement to once again embrace the fantasy of effortlessly shredding spots to a soundtrack of wasted youth. And what is OlliOlli World, but a chaotic blur of twitchy Sal Flips and energetic bluntslide 50-50s as weightlifting pigeons, talking bears, and an immaculately rendered Danny Trejo (don’t ask) watch your runs from the sidelines?
The truth is, there’s far more to OlliOlli World than meets the eye. Roll7 has always had an implicit understanding of the heart and soul of skateboarding, that’s clearer than ever before in World. Success in the varied, vibrant world of Radlandia requires no end of technical precision as it pushes you with relentless forward momentum; it’s a twitchy 2D side-scroller born in the mould of arcade fighting games as much as it is a hyper-chill descent into an unbreakable flowstate. And each of its stages are effectively extended spots to claim dominion over, albeit with raucous punk rock swapped out for a soundtrack of hypnotic electronica – kids these days.
What little friction there is in OlliOlli World will cause intermittent frustration. That troupe of kids following you around throughout the campaign, they become annoying enough that I have to thank Roll7 for including what is effectively a ‘shut up and skate’ button, allowing you to skip the bants and get right down to business. The controls and mechanics are masterfully executed, however I should say that I found the PS5 DualSense controller to be an infrequently ill-fit for the speed and precision required; my fingers oftentimes slipping from the sticks and onto the touchpad or PS button, pausing the game and disrupting my leaderboard-beating flow. And then there’s that difficulty curve to consider for the times where you can’t blame the DualSense for failed runs – OlliOlli World is more accessible than its predecessors, but the challenge won’t be for everyone.
Here’s the thing: Get a group of friends to go all-in on OlliOlli World and watch as it gets bitterly competitive. The ethos at the heart of skating – repetition, experimentation, failure – will become your life, not in the streets but on the sofa. It’ll drive you to beat scores, to text your buddies at 3 am to tell them that their dominance over this level or that is over, and to nurture a feeling of all-consuming resentment as it all comes crashing down around you the next day. That’s where OlliOlli has always thrived, in competition. Thankfully, OlliOlli World is masterful at generating it.
OlliOlli World was reviewed on PS5 with code provided by the publisher.
4.5 out of 5
OlliOlli World review: “All kickflips and good times”
OlliOlli World expands the series’ formula with great success, effortlessly generating competition with a relentless sense of forward momentum