by Christopher Coke
reviewed on PC
Taking the Challenge
One thing lost in the transition from three dimensions down to two was any sense of meaningful exploration. There are no hidden passageways or secret skate zones (though there are some hidden boards if you trick at the right location). Instead, OlliOlli tries to change things up with the levels themselves, beginning with a basic Urban setting but quickly moving into a junkyard, a port, a military base, and the futuristic Neon City. The levels and what you do with them are the heart of the OlliOlli experience.
To that end, Roll-7 has done an admirable job of encouraging the player to step out of their comfort zone in the game’s Campaign Mode. Each of the game’s five stages has ten levels, five at the amateur difficulty and five at pro. Every level begins with a set of five challenges (see a theme here?). Sometimes these are simple “achieve X score” affairs, while others demand that you pull off specific tricks, combos, and other feats. The perfectionist in me wanted to master every challenge before moving on but I simply couldn’t. On my last play-through, I restarted the level upwards of 15 times and still dropped one of the spinning plates every time. It is tough but extremely satisfying when, at the umpteenth time, you finally make it to the end having mastered that goal.
OlliOlli also features three other game modes. Spot Mode is a single-combo challenge mode to see how many points you can earn in one, uninterrupted mode. RAD Mode is tantamount to hardcore mode and dramatically ups the difficulty for pro players. My personal favorite is Daily Challenge Mode, which sends players to a new Spot to set a score. Players are given unlimited practice runs but only one chance to actually set their score, making for a high stakes final run.
Every level and every mode has its own leaderboard. No matter where you are playing, you have the chance to see where you stand against other players. It is inspiring but also reinforces how far the climb is for new players.
You could, of course, ignore the leaderboards entirely, but that would be missing the point. Those numbers are your drive, your motivation to push yourself further than ever before. Those numbers are the challenges you must overcome.
For Controller Only
My biggest gripe with OlliOlli comes from its control scheme. If the game detects that you don’t have a gamepad, it strongly recommends you get one and for good reason. OlliOlli is basically unplayable with a keyboard and mouse. You can technically play the game this way, but so much is lost in translation that it loses its charm. The quarter-turns and half-turns are replaced by WASD combos and directional arrows. What feels natural on a controller feels alien and clumsy on the keyboard. As this is a PC game, I can’t help but feel that there must have been a better control scheme that wouldn’t expect players to buy extra hardware.
OlliOlli is a fun, even exhilarating, game. As a long-time fan of the skateboard genre, I stand in awe at how well Roll-7 has been able to translate the experience. OlliOlli has style: in how slickly all of its systems come together; in its bevy of tricks and combos; and in its techno-driven, head-bobbing soundtrack. It's entirely up to the player whether its addictive nature and perfectionistic tendencies are pros or cons, but for my part, I enjoyed mastering my technique for each course. While I wish the game had better keyboard and mouse support, it is hard to argue that this isn’t the best skateboarding game PC players have had in years.
Easy to learn, hard to master; addictively fun; multiple game modes.
Poor keyboard/mouse support