Goodness, OlliOlli World is a delight. Yes, we know it’s a cliché, but when it comes to Roll7’s upcoming skateboarding sequel there’s no other word to describe it. It simply oozes personality, and based on our recent hands-on preview, the team are on track to deliver their best game to date.
For the uninitiated, OlliOlli is a series of precision based skateboarding games. Players must navigate through a 2D environment, avoiding obstacles by stringing together flips, grabs, and grinds in an attempt to reach the goal in one piece.
Although the presence of a skateboard invites easy comparisons to the Tony Hawk franchise, OlliOlli actually shares more in common with 2D platformers such as Super Meat Boy or Rayman Legends. It is, in essence, a game about movement and timing; one that encourages you to discover the cleanest way of flowing through its impeccably designed levels, chaining together precisely executed tricks along the way.
Thankfully, OlliOlli World features the same exceptional mechanics as its predecessors, with everything feeling as tightly designed and responsive as you’d expect. Tricks are handled by flicking the left stick, allowing you to perform various kicks and grinds depending on your context. Executing tricks with perfect timing gives you bonus points and connecting everything together with an all important manual is practically essential if you want to achieve pride-of-place on the level’s leaderboard.
That’s not to say there’s nothing new here, however. The game’s fresh 3D visuals allow for some additional environmental features for you to perform rad tricks from, including half-pipes and rideable billboards.
Levels also contain multiple paths that the player can transition between, giving tracks a grander sense of scale and depth compared to previous titles. This may not be the fully 3D OlliOlli some may have been expecting after watching the game’s initial reveal trailer, but Roll7 has successfully introduced the third dimension in a way that remains faithful to the purity of OlliOlli’s core mechanics.
The biggest change in OlliOlli World, however, is how it looks. Gone are the sterile 2D assets from Welcome to Olliwood, replaced instead with gorgeous 3D models and environments clearly inspired by the likes of Adventure Time and The Midnight Gospel. Levels are now teeming with life, the backgrounds of each course stuffed to the brim with goofy animals, beanie wearing teens and humanoid bananas. Despite this increase in environmental detail, all important clarity has been retained. The player is constantly kept in focus thanks to a great use of colour and shading, with the foreground and background visually distinct from one another at all times.
Finally, for the first time since the series’ introduction in 2013, OlliOlli feels like it has its own distinct identity. The game looks gorgeous, every frame bursting with colour and personality. Levels are now introduced by your gang of fellow skaters, and bonus levels can be unlocked by finding additional characters hidden within certain levels. A fish trapped in a fortune telling machine gives you a high score challenge, while a sleazy frog in a gaudy 90s shirt wants you to assist in the marketing campaign for their new skateboard business.
Some may miss the purity of previous entries, but we reckon Roll7 has made the right decision with this fresh direction. Hopefully its more accessible appearance will lead to the larger audience the series has always deserved.
It’s fair to say that we came away from our short demo of OlliOlli World beaming. With the promise of more levels to master, objectives to complete and quirky characters to uncover, we can’t wait to see what Roll7 has in store for us when the game launches for both PS4 and PS5 later this year.