OlliOlli World review – Skate escape

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OlliOlli World is a vibrant and surreal game full of colorful characters, fascinating vistas, a singular aesthetic, and an unrivaled passion for skating. While it’s modern cartoon visuals will remind most people of Adventure Time or Steven Universe, the game plays like a cartoon character’s bright and dazzling heroic journey of speed and cool. 

In the world of Radlandia, skate wizards are a thing. So are huge frogs that ride bees, colossal trees that take a walk, and anthropomorphic ice cream cones. And yet this is a world where the skate gods themselves have been forgotten, swallowed whole by the passage of time. But you have a special spark in you, the potential to become the next skate wizard and renew the connections between people and the gods.

Accompanying you on this journey are a gaggle of colorful characters. Each one possesses a single dash of uniqueness, just like most shonen supporting characters. This is the cynical camera-carrying one, the big child-like excitable one, the one kid who’s weirdly dad-like, and so on. You never quite form lifelong friendships, but I found myself looking forward to meeting the next quirky character and learning a new bit of weird lore.

There’s just enough of a story to keep you going, and a very rad premise to justify the strange and beautiful levels. But this game is about skating, and you are here to skate. The challenge of perfecting the game is immediately apparent, with several optional goals per level and surprise side quests. But you don’t need to start off as the skate wizard to play the game, you can get by on whatever level of intensity you prefer playing the game at.

That being said, the game is still one that hones your reaction time, and the game is best played when you trust your instincts and grow your skills. The game has an almost leisurely pace with its tutorials, teaching you just enough in between levels to help what you learn become muscle memory that you can add to your repertoire of tricks. 

Wiping out and watching your highly customizable character rag doll smash into a cliff is a bummer, and it can happen often. But a checkpoint system quickly gets you back into the groove of things, and restarting the entire level is also a breeze. It’s easy to tell yourself, “Just one more try” and find yourself trying again and again until you beat the level. Soon you’ll say, “Well, let me just try the next level and see what it’s like.”

It’s hard to put down OlliOlli World, and that’s a testament to how satisfying the skating feels and relatively easy the controls are. It’s easy to pick up and difficult to master. 

It’s hard to put down OlliOlli World, and that’s a testament to how satisfying the skating feels and relatively easy the controls are. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up and difficult to master, and playing to find your own fun spot along that spectrum is a true joy. 

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The wave of the game’s difficulty level is also interesting. Short tutorial levels crop up once in a while, and levels vary between easy and difficult, undulating back and forth in a way that’s unpredictable and exciting. 

As much fun as OlliOlli world is, I couldn’t quite figure out the finer details of skating. The game isn’t overly punishing, but it doesn’t clearly spell out what actions will build momentum, garner more points, or how fine tuned timing leads to different results. The game only provides a tricktionary that details how tricks are pulled off, but there are no additional details for how to do other essential things. How does one gain speed to grab air for the next wall jump? What makes a grind good or perfect?

The game doesn’t expect you to master every aspect of the game, but it doesn’t give you a clear path on how to do so if you wish to. A lot of it feels like simple trial and error, and when I did finally clear a frustrating section I didn’t always feel like I had actually figured out what to do differently. I’d try the same level or section again and again, trying different things, and it would seem like I was getting the same results. If there was a difference, it wasn’t something a newbie like me could discern.

It’s fun seeing other players completely smash through the levels, though often their skill outpaced my own by such a huge margin that I didn’t usually learn anything useful from watching them.

A very cool feature of the game are videos you can replay from those scoring high on the leaderboards. It’s fun seeing other players completely smash through the levels, though often their skill outpaced my own by such a huge margin that I didn’t usually learn anything useful from watching them.

I also enjoyed the fun and fairly detailed levels of customization, and appreciated that clothes, hairstyles, and accessories weren’t tied to a binary concept of gender. Taking on challenges and scoring higher on each level unlocked more options, which fed into a fairly satisfying loop. Radlandia is made up of several unique islands, each with its own strong aesthetic, with customization options that reflect that.

Despite the lack of a clear path to mastery and a few truly frustrating challenges, I’m eager to keep playing OlliOlli world until I become my own version of a skate god. This game is a great amount of fun that respects the amount of effort and time I want to put into it, while entertaining me with a beautiful and dynamic world.

This game was reviewed on Xbox Series X using review code provided by the publisher, Private Division.

OlliOlli World review – Skate escape
ABOUT THE SCORE
A good game is a game worth playing. While technical weaknesses or lack of originality might mar the experience, we enjoyed our time.
Pros
Gorgeous and varied aesthetic
Ridiculous and cool premise
Skating feels fun and satisfying
Welcoming to new players
Cons
Unclear path to mastery
Trial and error necessary
Story and characters are shallow
7
GOOD