PREVIEW: ‘OlliOlli World’ – Reach Gnarvana in Radlandia (PC)

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olliolli world

The skateboarding genre is one of the most technical sports genres out there. With all the different ways to do tricks at your disposal, trying to land correctly or eating it, and making sure you have enough speed to get sufficient air off a ramp, there’s no wonder why people love skateboarding games. Once you get in the groove, the combos you can pull off become almost addictive as that score rises! OlliOlli World, the latest entry in the OlliOlli franchise, is no different while making it fun in all-new ways.

Developed by Roll7 and produced by Private Division, OlliOlli World changes its formula from 2-D pixel-art one-directional levels to 3-D hand-drawn areas while evolving in just about every way. OlliOlli World takes place in Radlandia, an island forged by the Skate Gods where skateboarding is life. You play as a potential prospect to be the next skate wizard, a person who can communicate with the Skate Gods. All it takes is to shred the island and reach gnarvana. You travel around the island, meeting fellow skaters and citizens of Radlandia who give you tips on secret places perfect for testing your skills and who can help you meet the Skate Gods.

The first significant improvement from the first two games is the deep character creator. Just about everything is customizable and made to fit in the cartoony world. The hairstyles, the clothes, costumes, and boards, everything is made to fit and look as stylish as you want it to. What I loved most was how creative the game allowed me to be with my skater. My guy sported a nice button-down, sweats, and a GIANT purple handlebar mustache. Eventually, I unlocked a piece of tree bark to use as my skateboard. It didn’t change up anything gameplay-wise except made me laugh as I shredded without it breaking. Many more customization options will let you make your skater unique to you, which is AWESOME!

The second big improvement is just how deep levels are. Instead of being a one-directional side scroller, levels are multi-directional, multi-pathed, and full of fun Adventure Time-like creatures littered in the background. Every area feels alive. Plus, the branching pathways in levels are there to challenge or change things up during a second run-through. Additionally, the paths don’t always make it obvious that they’re leading to an alternate route full of more rail grinds, ways to do tricks, and ways to complete more challenges.

What also felt great was how the game eases players into more ways to pull off sick tricks and obstacles without feeling overwhelming. For instance, the first area, Sunshine Valley, is all boardwalks and benches. It’s also just jumps and rails. The second area, Cloverbrook, aka the woody area, incorporates billboards to introduce wall riding. Plus, mechanics weren’t thrown all at once, but after a couple of levels of getting used to one way to skate, OlliOlli World offers a new level that’s just teaching you how to do special tricks or grind or change routes. The more I played, the better each level felt because OlliOlli World lets me grow as I learn more about the island.

Finally, the third big improvement is with the controls. Everything has been evolved to give more control to the skater. Instead of jumping with the A or X button (on PlayStation), you use the left analog stick. Plus, using the left analog stick allows you to jump 12 different ways just by the way you move it! Honestly, the left analog stick is your bread and butter for everything. Wanna grind a rail? Left analog stick. Wanna wallride? Left analog stick. Wanna do a sick jump off of a high ramp? Left analog stick. Making everything tied to the left stick makes it simple enough to pull off jumps quickly in very tight spots or to switch as you go from a jump right back to a rail grind. Then the right stick is for grabs, which is an excellent way to do them since there is no camera to move.

But there are some issues with tying most movements to one analog stick when trying to rack up a good combo. For example, I found myself accidentally jumping too early when trying to go for an advanced jump after a grind. For content, that process requires me to hold the left analog stick in a direction and move it clockwise or counterclockwise in another direction without letting go. If I accidentally shift the left analog stick when I’m trying to react quickly to a short rail, I would accidentally jump off and fall into a pit. However, I will admit that that is something that should resolve with more practice.

The OlliOlli World preview showed me that this feels like it will be the next big skater adventure. From the updated controls to the fuller areas to skate through to just being yourself while on a board, there are many ways Roll7 has evolved their beloved OlliOlli series. The developer has made OlliOlli World feel first like a sequel that has improved on its past in just about every way and second a VERY satisfying skateboarding game. I felt like I reached gnarvana after finding my groove pretty quickly into the preview while I skated along and listened to upbeat and chill music, all while shredding the gnar.

OlliOlli World releases on February 8, 2022, for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch.

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