A little over 8 years ago, Roll7 first introduced the world to OlliOlli, a fun little take on a 2D platformer that centered around skating. Barely a year later, the studio then released OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, which built on the mechanics and scope of the original in nearly every way. With that last entry (and the compilation release OlliOlli: Switch Stance), it seemed like the developer had done everything it wanted with the concept, but then it surprised us all with the announcement of OlliOlli World. It was clear right from the off that OlliOlli World would be a more ambitious and fleshed out entry in the series, and we’re pleased to announce that it has fully delivered on that initial promise. OlliOlli World has perfected the addictive, tough gameplay of its predecessors and stands as a must-have release that you just need to try.
OlliOlli World is set in the world of Radlandia, a whimsical, magical, continent-sized skate park formed long ago by the five skate gods who might be real. Their emissary, Chiffon, acts as the link between the realms of the divine and the mortal, but Chiffon is ready to retire from skating for good and is looking for a suitable successor to take up the mantle. You play as a promising potential replacement, but there’s a lot of tricks and skills you have to learn before you’re finally worthy of the position. To prepare yourself, you thus set out on a quest to the furthest corners of Radlandia in search of the gods and the secrets of becoming the world’s greatest skater.
As you can probably guess, the story is mostly window-dressing, but we rather appreciated the goofy culture showcased in the narrative bits of OlliOlli World. You’re followed around on your epic quest by a small group of fellow skaters and enthusiasts who are there to support you in your trials and often check in with them before and after each level. Additionally, each region of the world has some locals who help point you in the direction of the resident god and challenge you to skate in various locales. Your trek through Radlandia thus has a summery, upbeat, and carefree vibe to it, as literally everyone loves skating and they orient their lives around it. Sure, your quest is, uh… important, but it’s really just an excuse for your character to roam around the world with their pals and find new hills to bomb.
Gameplay in OlliOlli World takes the form of side-on, auto-scrolling skating. Each level presents you with a gauntlet of stairs, hills, grindrails, and quarter pipes, and your goal is to not just make it to the end without slamming, but to do so with as much style as possible. Tricks are input by simply rotating the left stick and you earn points for every trick you successfully pull off, with the more difficult and dangerous stunts earning you higher score values but requiring some much fancier stick-twirling. Most importantly, pulling off more tricks in one continuously chaining combo will up your score multiplier, which will earn you that many more points when you finally land.
If you fail, however, and wipe out on an obstacle, you lose all your points from that combo and either get kicked back to the last checkpoint or the start of the stage. This leads to an interesting risk/reward system, as there’s a constant tension between landing your combo and banking the points vs. keeping it going to push the multiplier higher and running the risk of making nothing on it if you mess up. This high score focus is the bread and butter of OlliOlli World and, fortunately, it remains consistently compelling all the way through.
Of course, this score-chasing system wouldn’t really work well if the level design wasn’t there to keep it interesting, and OlliOlli World manages to keep its levels feeling fresh and dynamic. New stage gimmicks like wall-running are introduced at a gradual pace to ease you into the complexities of the trick system, while hazards are thrown at you in a way that feels natural and engaging. In many ways, each stage feels like its own rollercoaster—packed to bursting with twists and turns, peaks and valleys, and all manner of exciting obstacles that you can earn a lot of trick points on if you know what you’re doing. It all comes at you so fast, too, as you blaze your way down rails and sail high over the environment on launches; you can hardly catch your breath before the next major ramp or wall comes rushing to meet you.
There’s a lot more to do in a given stage than just seeing it through to the end, as well. Nearly every level has branching paths you must choose at a moments notice, with the default route usually being the ‘easy’ one while the detour is typically a “Gnarly Route” that has much higher score potential, but is harder to survive. In addition to this, there are three challenges to each stage where one of your friends tasks you with hitting certain thresholds throughout your run. Perhaps you need to pull off a specific advanced trick every time you launch in front of a group of seagull-men, or maybe you need to ensure that you boop every inflatable cat in the level.
These extra challenges can add some nice replayability to each stage as they dare you to fully explore your trick repertoire and to push you to engage with some stage hazards in unconventional ways. Beyond these challenges, there are also three score thresholds set by locals in each level that you can try to beat, with the best of these often requiring you to chain together some seriously impressive combos.
Having all these extra little side elements in a level helps to give OlliOlli World a more rounded, 'complete' feel to it. It’s always all about skating to the best of your ability, but these little sub-objectives provide concrete goals to hit while passively teaching you more about the nuances of high level play. And completing them is always rewarded with more merch for your character, who can be outfitted with new clothes and skateboard types as you clear challenges and grow your pile of loot. In many games, this kind of extra content can often feel like padding to extend the total number of hours you’ll spend with the game, but OlliOlli World does a good job of giving you worthwhile extra goals to hit in exchange for a little reward.
Those of you who like to get competitive will be pleased to note that, as with previous games, there’s an asynchronous multiplayer component to keep you on your toes. Every level has a global leaderboard which you can use to check up on your friends’ performances, too, but the real meat is found in the Gnarvana League. Here, you’re grouped into small leagues of ten players who all are given one day to get the highest score they possibly can on the same randomly generated level. Placing high enough in your league will see you ascending to the next rank when the day is over, and you can win some sweet rewards if you make it through enough leagues before the season ends and kicks everyone back down to bronze again while offering up new prizes.
Additionally, there’s a randomly generated mode as part of Gnarvana where you can set the biome, difficulty, and length of a stage and just give it your best shot. If you like that seed enough, you can save it to keep returning to later, and seeds can be shared with the community to get some local leaderboards going. We didn’t get nearly as much mileage out of this mode as we did leagues during the review period, but it’s quite easy to see how this randomized ‘endless’ mode could be a real draw for the community once the game officially launches.
This beefy multiplayer component, taken in conjunction with the already content-rich single player campaign, really helps to sell the fact that OlliOlli World is more than just a blink-and-you-miss-it indie game. If you really sprint through everything, you could probably see the end of this game in about 10 hours, but that would be entirely missing the real point: mastery. If you connect with the gameplay, you’ll find an impressively high skill ceiling and there’s seemingly always something just beyond your abilities tempting you to put in the practice and try for that better score or perfect combo chain. In short, if you’re at all susceptible to games that push the limits of your dexterity and dare you to overcome a stiff challenge, OlliOlli World will likely last you for several dozen hours.
It's also worth taking some time to ruminate on the absolutely tremendous presentation. The first two games certainly didn’t look bad, but this fanciful new Adventure Time-esque art style gives OlliOlli World a wonderfully distinct identity. From the Santa Monica Pier-inspired Sunset Valley to the dusty wastes of Burnt Rock, the world feels alive as you rush past leaping banana-people and fly over giant frogs riding on the backs of bees. The backgrounds and details never get so busy that they distract you, yet there’s a lot to take in on the wide shots to make each level that much more enjoyable.
All of this is backed by a soundtrack from an ensemble cast of real world artists like Nikitch, Anomalie, and Opal Block that provide a surprisingly relaxed set of chipper tunes that bounce from jazztronica to chill hop. It’s not a high tempo soundtrack by any means, and it sets an impressive vibe that ties the whole experience together beautifully.
If we were to name any complaint with OlliOlli World—and we’re really having to reach here—it’s that the loading screens can sometimes feel a bit much. Performance is otherwise smooth throughout, whether docked or handheld, but every time you load into or out of a level, it feels like the loading screens hang around for a little longer than is ideal. They certainly aren’t boring, however, as you’ll be treated to different stills of a random online player’s avatar mid-trick, potentially offering you some inspiration for how to kit out your own character.
OlliOlli World takes Roll7's refined 2D skateboarding concept to cosmic heights. Tight and challenging gameplay, a high skill ceiling, dozens of hours of content, and a remarkably stylish sense of presentation combine to make this a release you absolutely don’t want to miss. It's an easy recommendation to pretty much any Switch owner, especially those who are easily roped in by score-chasing releases or super hard platforming, OlliOlli World is a shining example of the distinct kind of innovation and quality that can come from inspired indie game studios.