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'OlliOlli World' Review: A Zen-Like Journey Into The Flow Skate

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'OlliOlli World' Review: A Zen-Like Journey Into The Flow Skate

“So starting in the usual way, take a deep breath, in through the nose, and out through the mouth,” says Andy from Headspace as I engage in my morning meditation session. Ten minutes a day keeps the negative thoughts at bay I think to myself, as I do the usual body scan. Now, you might be thinking, “Where is this going?” Well, as we slowly emerge from the dark times of the last couple of years, I feel folks want more colourful experiences to connect with, distractions of joy to truly shatter the negativity of the daily news cycle. And this is where OlliOlli World comes in. 

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Check out the launch trailer for OlliOlli World, below

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The third instalment of the OlliOlli series by British developer Roll7, OlliOlli World is a “bold new skateboarding action platformer” in the words of its publisher, Private Division. And bold it very much is, both in its gorgeous graphics and engaging gameplay. You don’t need to play a lot of this radically rainbow-hued humdinger of heelflips and impossibles to know that it’s a game that you’re going to be sinking a lot of time into.

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OlliOlli World is a vibrant, mindful, colours-popping skateboard delight, where your challenge is to skate your way to ‘Gnarvana’ by ticking off tasks set by your crew across a series of courses. Your score is pushed higher and higher by linking together a succession of trick combos - much like the Tony Hawk series - and each course also contains specific tasks, from popping inflatable animals to simply meeting a side-quest-providing NPC on your route. But unlike others in the genre - such as the Tony Hawk games and EA’s soon-to-return Skate series - you don’t need to sweat the techniques as you push your skills to the next level, as the real aim of the game is to achieve a zen-like state of flow.

OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author
OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author

The game is set in Radlandia, a stylish, skate utopia of sorts, host to a number of Skate Godz and other colourful characters that you will meet along the way - including a truly terrifying humanoid seagull called Roy, who’s jacked as all hell and will criticise your skinny legs. Ice cream hairdos, leafy lords and haunted bees are all complemented by luscious Adventure Time-esque pastel shades, which give a subtle depth and dynamics to the visuals - ostensibly 2D of play, but 3D of form. Challenges and characters alike are woven organically into levels, ensuring there’s a great fluidity and flow to the gameplay.

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OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author
OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author

OlliOlli World was designed to incorporate challenging gameplay while at the same time being accessible to newcomers. A tough balance to strike in many developers’ hands, but Roll7 have pulled it off with aplomb. Completing a level doesn’t rely on your score, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t complete any of the checklisted tasks - simply get to the end of a level, and you’ll progress to the next. This set-up makes it fun to go back and thrash your previous scores once you’ve blasted ahead and learned more tricks.

Initially, the controls can appear daunting - and those who played the previous two OlliOlli titles will know how testing it could be to truly get to grips with their nuances, to nail the best runs possible. But an incremental tutorial eases you into OlliOlli World’s wall rides and advanced moves, many of which are achieved purely through contextual use of the left stick, and it’s not long before you’re kickflipping and method grabbing your way to Gnarvana.

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OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author
OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author

Throughout the player’s four-wheeled journey across Radlandia - taking in regions such as the wooded Cloverbrook with its huge insect and pond life, and the industrial environments of Sketchside with its steaming pipes and glowing green gloop, selecting each stage from a Mario-like overworld - a tranquil soundtrack (on Spotify, here) underpins the action with delicious subtlety. Soothing synths swell beneath each level, and the sound effects alone, from the metallic grinds to the clickety-clack of your wheels over a boardwalk, are so satisfying they deserve their own Spotify compilation. The crisp and crunchy scrapes of the deck have a certain ASMR feel to them.

OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author
OlliOlli World / Credit: Private Division, all screenshots by the author
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It’s early days of course, but OlliOlli World ranks amongst my favourite games of the year so far. Its sleek, satisfying gameplay coupled with luscious graphics and sounds both pristine and punchy make it a must-buy for fans of the skating genre. But beyond that audience, it’s also highly recommended for anyone who loves finding a sense of flow, of rhythm, in their lives. Deep breath then, in through the nose, out through the mouth… And then drop down that ramp into the wildest, weirdest, and friendliest sports game you’ll play in 2022.

Pros: controls are slick and intuitive once they click; overall presentation is superb; plenty of encouragement to go back and beat previous scores; high levels of cosmetic skater customisation

Cons: those same controls might frustrate THPS purists

For fans of: THPS1+2, the Skate series, OlliOlli

Score: 9/10 Exceptional

OlliOlli World is available now on Nintendo Switch (version tested), PC, Playstation 5, Playstation 4, Xbox Series S/X, and Xbox One. Code for this review was provided by the publisher. Find a guide to GAMINGbible’s review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Private Division

Topics: Indie Games, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox

Dan Wilson
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