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OlliOlli World brings chill vibes and top-of-the-line skateboarding – Review

Skateboarding bliss.
This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information

Here’s a confession: I don’t think I’ve ever successfully ridden a skateboard in real life. I’m entirely too clumsy and fully believe the second I push off I’ll slam my head on the ground. My brain will come out of my ears like those Playdough toys that turned the clay into McDonald’s’ french fries. It’s not a reasonable fear, but it’s all I can imagine when presented with one of those four-wheeled boards.

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Instead of risking my own life and limb, I vastly prefer taking things digital. I grew up playing every Tony Hawk game up until they started branching out into weird peripherals. More recently, I’ve spent hours messing around with a single line in Skater XL. Skateboarding games are exceedingly rad, even if I’m too big of a wuss to try it out in real life.

OlliOlli World, therefore, was one of the more exciting announcements of the last few years. A game that claimed it was going to take the series’ tight gameplay and put it into a more open-world environment? Sign me right up. Fortunately, OlliOlli World more than lives up to my expectations, shattering them into a million pieces with smart design decisions and sublime skateboarding.

The Dark Souls of skateboarding

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Souls games are known for a few things. Two of the most important are: combat that is tough but fair and worlds that interconnect in unexpected ways. OlliOlli World follows in those footsteps with gameplay that requires finely-timed input and a dizzying amount of connecting lines to skate.

The OlliOlli series has always made skating feel great. Even when the original game released on Vita, the amount of depth the team at Roll7 was able to get out of the simple control scheme was impressive. With the game now fully taking advantage of a gamepad (even on PC you can’t play without one), Roll7 is able to squeeze in everything a top-tier skateboarding game needs.

Smartly though, OlliOlli World doesn’t give you the full toolbox out of the gate. The game is split into five different worlds, and you’re still getting tutorials in the fourth world. For long-time fans, that might sound frustrating, but it gives the levels a sense of progression that lets new players slowly add to their box of tricks. Plus, the early levels don’t keep you from doing most of the key maneuvers. If you know how to do a manual, you can do it from the first level. The game just doesn’t expect you to implement them into your lines until much later.

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Once the game really gets rolling, riding a clean line through a level becomes much more difficult. You’ll need to be totally locked in for several minutes at a time if you’re going for a high score. If you want to beat the Local Heroes’ high scores and unlock new cosmetics, you’ll sometimes need to keep a combo through an entire level. That’s a tough task, but Roll7 does a great job of easing you into it. There were a few mechanics toward the very end of the game that weren’t explained well, but after banging my board against them for a few runs, I was able to puzzle them out.

On top of the tight skateboarding are levels that constantly implore to poke and prod at the edges as you look for the perfect line. In addition to besting each Local Heroes’ high scores, each level has three challenges that will test you in several ways. These can be as simple as landing three advanced tricks in a combo or as difficult as finding a line that lets you give an NPC five high fives in a single combo.

Not every level has the same level of complexity, but most of them have offshoots OlliOlli World calls “Gnarly Routes.” These branching paths lead you to new challenges and, in a few places, secret side missions. As you’re skating, you can see how the level wraps around itself, letting you go back on a subsequent run to try and find the alternate route. It’s both a spectacle of gnarly skateboarding runs and a tubular trick of level design that gives players plenty of reasons to dive into levels over and over again.

We’ve hit Gnarlandia

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While you’re exploring these levels, you’ll also enjoy one of the better soundtracks in recent memory. I’m usually not one to listen to video game music in my downtime, but I left OlliOlli World running in the background anytime I wasn’t playing just because of how chill the beats are. It’s the perfect complement to the fast-paced gameplay, keeping you in a near zen-like state as you continually fail the line you’ve been working on.

Visually, the game is also a treat. The pastel colors mesh well with the mellow vibe the game is going for, and the unlockable cosmetics are both plentiful and skater-approved. Yes, there are some wacky ones in there, but if you want to embrace your inner Bob Burnquist and slip on your name-brand tee and cargo shorts, it’s all in there (albeit with a fake brand). Even if you don’t love your current look, you constantly unlock new pieces of gear and can switch things up whenever you want. The cherry on top is that, unlike many other games, they aren’t charging you extra for any of it.

The one downer about the game might be that the story is just kind of there. It’s certainly not breaking any new ground, but that’s also not why you’re coming to this game. The worst I can say about this tale of trying to become the next Skate Wizard and meet the Skate Gods of Gnarlandia is that it’s easily skippable. That just means more skating, so I wouldn’t call that a bad thing.

The verdict

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OlliOlli World is everything a great skating game should be. It merges tight controls with a world you’ll want to explore and adds in an infinitely-listenable soundtrack and soothing visuals. The story might not blow you out of the water, but it doesn’t have to when the skating is this good. If you’re a fan of the sport or just like good action games, this is a must-play.

Final Score:

9.5 / 10

+Tight gameplay leaves you feeling in control of every victory and mistake
+Brilliantly designed levels brimming with possibilities
+Gorgeous art and cosmetics that perfectly fit skate culture
+The soundtrack is full of bangers
A few unexplained mechanics left me puzzled
So-so story, but that’s not really why you’re here

Gamepur team received a Nintendo Switch code for the purpose of this review.

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Ricky Frech
Ricky Frech is the Associate Editor of Gamepur and has been covering pop culture and sports off and on for eight years. His work has also been published on IGN, FanByte, Bleacher Report, DualShockers, Inside Survivor, and several other publications. When he's not neck-deep in sports games, you'll probably find him playing a board game or rewatching a Survivor season for the 20th time.