OlliOlli World review

OlliOlli World review
Josh Wise Updated on by

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There are many remarkable things in OlliOlli World. There is a girl whose hair is made of ice cream—a scoop of pink, chicly sculpted and crowned with a cone. There is an upstanding frog who wears trousers, there are bees as big as pillows, trees that walk, and one gentleman whose head is quite simply a sandcastle bucket—an image I relished for its compound of the unbreachable and the delicate; his thoughts, however they may sift and scatter, will remain a mystery. There is much here that you would expect from a slightly fey children’s cartoon: all boardwalks and fogged-up woods and youngsters, swinging cameras and drooling smokey bubbles from toy pipes. Oh, and there is some skateboarding to do, as well.

The developer is Roll7, the British studio behind OlliOlli and the sublimely named OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood—both of which were released on the PlayStation Vita (the latter also on PlayStation 4), before leaping to other platforms. They were handheld games at heart: their twitchy, 2-D take on skateboarding was so gripping that it had to be gripped, and the Vita became like a board—bulky and liable to cause aches, but capable of carrying you, whenever the urge struck, into arenas of raw thrill. OlliOlli World, however, bears extra weight; it is less inclined to be stuffed into a bag, despite being available for the Nintendo Switch.

OlliOlli World

This is due, in part, to the presence of a plot, summed up nicely by a girl named Suze: “Four weirdos convince someone they found on the pier to travel around Radlandia, prove their skills to potentially meet some imaginary Skate Godz and finally take their place as the new Skate Wizard.” Not that this premise demands your attention, far from it; the conversation between Suze and her fellow-weirdos—Mike, Chiffon, and an older man whom they call Dad, but who is not, in fact, their biological parent—is nonsense. At one point we are told, “Here you can splishy sploshy wishy washy swim your troubles away.” Whether OlliOlli World charms you or chafes at your patience will depend on your appetite for such whimsy. For those whose days—and retinas—bore the bright imprint of the first two games, and who have come to the new one with an incurable need to ollie nollie kicky flippy grind their troubles away, they may find themselves skipping through the babble that bookends each level.

Fortunately, there is plenty in OlliOlli World to satisfy their craving for the mechanical. The game is 2.5-D, and much is packed into that .5. We get divergent routes, giving us the power to dip into the backgrounds and take the road less heelflipped. Plus, now and then, the camera pulls back, oxygenating the frame and shrinking our rider to a speck. In terms of techniques, Roll7 has added wallrides and grabs into the equation. These are welcome ingredients, adding further spice and glue to our combos. There is nothing here as seismic as the addition, in OlliOlli 2, of the manual (essentially, a wheelie). That was an act not just of innovation, allowing us to lock our moves together over long distances, but of delicious homage; the same change was made in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, widely considered the greatest of skating games, and not a bad wing under which to take flight.

OlliOlli World

I have to admit, while playing OlliOlli World I kept nipping back to Welcome to Olliwood. It began as an exercise in reference, but I couldn’t kid myself for long. There remains something in its purity—no plot, no talk—and in the wit of its world that exerts a stronger pull than the new game. It had you thundering your way through a string of film sets, and their titles would drift by in the background: “Gunmetal Creek,” “Carnival of the Dead,” “The Path of Whispers.” And there was something in the frigid air of the studio that spoke to the game’s theme. What better pairing than the phony flatness of movieland with the prerogative of the skateboarder, for whom every street is a set, every rail and bench but a prop to be rolled into the production of a wondrous trick?

By comparison, OlliOlli World prefers to revel in candy-coloured surrealism. The art style, by Germán Reina Carmona, is staffed by weight-lifting gulls and smiling bananas. Chacun à son goût. Where it shines, thank goodness, is in its ability to put you in that same brain-blurring state of flow as its predecessors; it feels—as this series always has, despite its fantasies—oddly faithful to the demands that skateboarding makes on the mind. The feel of its action is as responsive as ever; I played on a PlayStation 5, and the controller’s haptic feedback, combined with its speaker, evokes the long, light scrape of a grind as it loops you to secret places—call it the path of whispers. What’s more, if you have a taste for character customisation, you will be in your element; I furbished my skater with tattoos, and turquoise shorts that left little of the regions of his upper thighs to the imagination. As you complete levels, you are rewarded with shoes, trucks, wheels, and accessories. And I couldn’t help but smirk when Suze said, “I mean, there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism.” Alas, OlliOlli World costs £24.99; make your purchase with a heavy heart.

Developer: Roll7

Publisher: Private Division

Available on: PlayStation 5 [reviewed on], PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Release Date: August 25, 2021

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OlliOlli World

verdict

Whether OlliOlli World charms you or chafes at your patience will depend on your appetite for such whimsy.
7 Skating Babble