OlliOlli World is a skateboarding game like no other. It leans hard into platformer territory, but nails the board riding ethos with such wholesome energy that it will appeal to a wide variety of gamers. Hell, it might even give Tony Hawk a run for his money.
When I first loaded up OlliOlli World I had no expectations. I knew that it was a skateboarding game and I knew that the art direction was colourful and family friendly. ‘Righto, another cutesy little kids game‘, I thought to myself. Fast-forward a few hours and I was completely and utterly enthralled.
When I was young skateboarding seemed the cultural epicentre of the world, my friends and I spent weekends trying to ollie onto street curbs and playing Tony Hawks Pro Skater. That game’s soundtrack was instrumental in forming many of my first (and worst) opinions on music – as well as what a skateboarding video game should be.
OlliOlli World exists in an entirely different space. Where Tony Hawks Pro Skater games are frenetic, slightly brutal and punky, OlliOlli World is calming, cerebral and inclusive. It is the Yang to Tony’s Yin.
I mean this in terms of presentation, but also in regards to the very different gameplay that characterises each of these games.
Where skateboarding and platformers meet
Skateboarding games have traditionally focused on amassing points totals, rather than exploration or getting to the end of a level. And while OlliOlli World will most definitely award you for performing difficult tricks, it won’t really punish you for just cruising through the levels.
Early on this didn’t compute with me: I expected the game to eventually lock itself behind difficult to achieve challenges, but it never did. Once I realised this the effect was profound, I stopped getting annoyed at every failed trick and just took it all in – everything the game had to offer.
OlliOlli World is OUT NOW! 🛹🛹🛹
Get onboard and drop into Radlandia today. Gnarvana awaits!
— OlliOlli World is OUT NOW! 🛹 (@OlliOlligame) February 8, 2022
I started to treat OlliOlli World like a platformer, as if its world was there for me to enjoy and explore at my own pace. A big, burly character named Mike will regularly give you some challenges for each playable level, but they aren’t necessary to enjoy the majority of the game.
Rather, OlliOlli World encourages you to calm down, shut up, and ride. If you feel like zooming through the level as fast as possible, you will still be able to continue and check out the next world. If you want to shoot for a high score then that’s also completely valid. Regardless, the moment I realised I could do as I please is the moment I began to love the game for what it is.
OlliOlli World’s charm offensive
The thing is that I should have realised this from the start. OlliOlli World‘s…well…world is essentially a skateboarding nirvana. There are colourful characters full of positive vibes, skate gods and a gorgeously diverse range of environments.
The art direction reminds me of the Overcooked games, albeit less LEGO-like and more Nickelodeon circa 2000. It’s a good match for the simple, yet rewarding, gameplay. And while after a few hours I started to tune out the mumbo-jumbo regarding skate wizards, the narrative elements never interrupted my relaxing gameplay experience.
I imagine that children are more likely to be drawn into this aspect of the game, but those that chose to skip it won’t be doing themselves a disservice.
OlliOlli World is there to be enjoyed, and the developers at Roll7 know the best way to ensure that it is, is to let players choose how they want to play it. So if you’re in the market for some chilled-out skateboarding action, or even just a casual platformer, then you could do a hell of a lot worse than OlliOlli World.
But be warned: it might be the only skateboarding game you feel like playing for a long time.
OlliOlli World is out now on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch and PC.