OlliOlli World Review: Radlandia Is Rad
Nearly seven years after the last new release in the series, OlliOlli is back, bringing its unique combination of 2D skateboarding with wild, platform-style challenges to players in OlliOlli World. While it doesn’t offer a ton that’s brand-new outside of an entirely different art style that has a lot more personality and looks great, that’s not a terrible thing. After this many years, it’s nice just to have some new challenges to take on.
Well, that’s the other significant change this time around. OlliOlli World is a lot easier than earlier games in the series. That’s not to say it won’t kick you around, but most players willing to put a bit of time in will find they can see the end of this one, not something that was necessarily the case for the series’ first two installments. Easing the requirement for landing is the biggest change to make this possible.
Meet The Crew
After going through a very solid character creator, you’ll be dropped into the land of Radlandia. This world features five different areas, each ruled over by its own god, all of whom like to hang out in the mythical land of Gnarvana. The gods communicate with their followers through a skate wizard, and it just so happens the current holder of the office is ready to step down. That leaves an opening, and after your early exploits, the wizard and their crew decide you may have what it takes to step into the role.
With that, you’ll set off to meet all kinds of characters and take on the game’s many levels. Each world culminates in you meeting one of the gods and getting their blessing. Along the way, you’ll have to beat a whole bunch of levels in increasingly complicated fashion. OlliOlli World starts you off with just the basics. You use the left stick on your controller to do a variety of different flip tricks and ollie, with each direction on the stick giving you a different move.
Simple To Start, Difficult To Master
Before long, though, things start to get a lot more complicated. The game teaches you to stomp as you hit the ground, which is worth extra points, and was required to land tricks in older games in the series. You’ll learn to do grabs, grind, manual, spin in mid-air, wall ride, and do all kinds of moves that those familiar with skating games will be used to. OlliOlli World does an excellent job of introducing all of this a little at a time, never feeling overwhelming or like it’s throwing too much at you too quickly. That doesn’t mean it can’t get to be a lot, especially later in the game when you’ll often have to cycle between these moves incredibly quickly and where you’ll almost certainly have to restart plenty, at least at first, but you’ll have time to get a feel for one part of your skate arsenal before another is thrown at you.
Levels fly past you lightning-quick, but things aren’t so fast that you can’t keep up, at least with the moves required. Divining all of the hidden objectives and alternate paths through each level is another matter. Each stage has a variety of challenges, and while you can progress just by getting to the end of each one, you’ll unlock the most items and get the most bragging rights by beating each of the level-specific challenges, completing the level without using a checkpoint, and achieving a high score. You’ll even unlock some extra challenges for each previous level when you’ve met the last of the gods.
Consistently Good, But Few Standout Moments
For as much fun as each level is, and as much as OlliOlli World gives you to do, I wish some of the individual levels were a little more memorable. They provide solid challenges, but they go by so fast that there’s little time to take in the scenery, and even with so many alternate paths, I can’t think of a single standout level after completing the game. The ones that come to mind when I think back are the few that gave me the most trouble, but even then, I’m only really remembering those specific stretches that were hard. One late level has a sequence you have to complete by busting through the floor, for example, something not seen up until that point and easy to miss at first. It’s a unique twist on the game’s purple gems and a cool moment, but I couldn’t tell you anything that came before it in, and I’m not sure I could find the level it’s in now if I tried.
Likewise, the game’s personality doesn’t quite nail things. I love the look of it, but none of the characters in your little group of skaters ever really comes together into someone you care about. They’re just along for the ride, like you are. The skate gods at least look cool, but they appear too little to make an impression themselves. When you spend this much time with characters, with each level starting off with a too-long dialogue section, it would really help if you liked them. You can skip all but the start of these dialogue sessions, but I kept worrying I’d miss something, so I sat through them all. I can tell you that if you choose to skip them, you aren’t missing much.
Beating the game’s different areas unlocks a variety of multiplayer options where you can chase high scores against other players online in unique challenges. It’s a neat option, though some sort of way to actually play against your friends in real-time would definitely have been a cool inclusion.
While I might have liked slightly more memorable levels or stronger personality from the supporting cast, OlliOlli World provides hours of skating bliss with rock-solid controls and a great sense of progression. Once you’re in the zone, it’s easy to lose hours as your quest for Gnarvana provides a sense of gaming nirvana. This one’s definitely worth a look.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed), PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC; Publisher: Private Division; Developer: Roll7; Players: 1; Released: February 8th, 2022; ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10+; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of OlliOlli World provided by the publisher.