OlliOlli World is the third outing in an already highly praised series. The previous two brought us a unique and spirited side-scrolling 2D skating realm. The challenging and stimulating trick techniques kept our fingers and thumbs rapidly beating down on our keyboards and controllers.
The 2D perspective is maintained in OlliOlli World but it does this with an added element of 3D play. This might sound like a confusing concept at first but it all becomes clear as you start to play.
Tracks, pipes and rails all play out on a single plane that you jump and grind back and forth on, but one that seemingly flows between background and foreground, magically joining and separating like some perpetual, vibrant ‘impossible cube’.
Surroundings and staging become part of the action as a deceptively ‘un-interactable’ object or scenery piece suddenly melds into the gameplay.
Increasingly dynamic levels fill with interactive scenery as the camera pans in and out to reveal the vastness of your surroundings or the sheer scale of your death defying leaps. Your skater switches from left to right as wallrides, loops and pipes shape your course, completely dissolving the reality of the otherwise mostly linear path.
Naturally OlliOlli World isn’t just about getting from A to Z, it’s about getting there in style and style is in abundance here. The fundamentals of any skating game are the ability to seriously impress yourself with the downright inhuman complexity of the tricks you produce and there is a substantial amount to astound yourself with.
OlliOlli World masters the balance between complexity and fun. The sheer amount of tricks and stunts available would lead you to believe the learning curve to be large and the technical interaction frustrating but, whilst there is a lot to learn, the game logically holds your hand with its highly user-friendly tutorial.
The learning of the skills, followed by the mastering of those skills, feels like a natural progression within the game rather than slogging it out and making mistake after mistake until you’ve learned it all. You are introduced to the different mechanics gradually and appropriately and that ever-increasing mastery of your talents adds to the game’s longevity and appeal.
OlliOlli World is much more forgiving than its two predecessors. The game isn’t all about landing at the perfect angle or having impeccable jump timing but is instead about your gnarly, four-wheeled odyssey through vibrant Radlandia. Even when you do fall, the transition from floor back to board is swift and smooth and not hampered by the stop-start frustration games of this genre are usually plagued by.
The corner of the screen lights up with your ever-building score, new additions from your tricks flashing up with satisfying regularity in a near montage of wacky skating jargon and increasing digits as your combos build.
Each level has three challenges within it and includes, among other things, collectables, trick ‘hotspots’ and secret routes. There is something simultaneously narcissistic and self-deprecating about the satisfaction you get from annihilating your old score, mocking your old self for how bad you were to start and still berating yourself for not doing better.
OlliOlli World spans the wide spectrum of tastes and abilities gamers possess. Its bright and eccentric presentation gives it the cheery quality needed for those who might be looking for something a little less serious, but there are enough similarities with more realistic skating games for hardcore fans to still be enthralled. This wacky world makes nothing of casually introducing flipkicks and noseslides to quirky and lovable animated characters.
It makes light of setting up challenges in ambitious environments with adorably surreal scenarios like racing a bear floating downstream or launching yourself over as many giant bees as possible.
All this is backed by a funky, soulful electronic soundtrack. The balance is perfect and it’s this that makes the whole thing so playable. It’s uplifting and challenging whilst being accessible and absorbing.