Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: February 8, 2022
OlliOlli World is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Within minutes of starting this skateboarding side-scroller, you’ll be pulling off sick flip tricks and tweaked grabs. However, if you want to become a true skateboarding legend, you’ll need to put in the work.
World is the third game in the OlliOlli series. Unlike its direct predecessor, which offered mostly the same experience as the first game, this third outing transforms the series in almost every way. The franchise’s core of tight skateboarding gameplay is still present, but the developers have tweaked, polished or improved just about everything.
Be warned that once you start playing OlliOlli World, it's extremely hard to put down. You’ll bail hard and often, especially if you commit to completing the optional challenges. But each time you wipe out, you’ll eagerly jump back onto your board, ready to go again. Read on for our full OlliOlli World review.
OlliOlli World review: Gameplay
OlliOlli World is a skateboarding side-scroller that offers players dozens of downhill courses to complete. However, reaching the finish line while still on your board is only half the battle. As you speed down massive ramps and clear huge gaps, you’ll also aim to rack up a high score by pulling off all manner of tricks and spins.
You can use transition moves such as grinds, manuals and wallrides to chain tricks together into lengthy combos, which multiply your score. Pulling off a skillful combo is an exhilarating feeling, while wiping out just as you were about to set a new record will fuel your determination to nail your next run.
Performing standard tricks feels almost effortless. The basics require only a single flick of the left analog stick. Even advanced tricks aren’t too taxing, and you can always look at the Tricktionary in the pause menu for detailed instructions if you’re struggling to perform a specific move.
The real mechanical depth of OlliOlli World comes into play when you’re required to pull off several moves in quick succession. Sure, performing a perfectly timed kickflip, manual, tail grab and wallride is easy enough one step at a time. But stringing them together while hurtling down a steep incline is a lot more complicated. Achieving perfection in OlliOlli World is no small feat, but you’ll have a constant smile on your face while trying to get there.
You’ll spend most of your time with OlliOlli World in career mode. This mode offers five visually distinct zones, each with its own set of levels to skate. If you’re trying to speed through the game, you can merely race to the end and move on to the next zone. However, the real fun of OlliOlli World is replaying levels over and over again.
There’s plenty of incentive to replay previously completed levels. Each course offers multiple high scores to beat, as well as a set of optional challenges. Many levels also include alternative routes and branching paths to explore. There wasn’t a single level that I played only once. For the majority of courses, I moved on only after at least half-a-dozen runs, and some of the later stages tripled that count.
The career mode also does a fantastic job of slowly introducing you to the various transition skills at your disposal. The first island teaches you how to grind, the second introduces wallrides and so on. This drip-feed allows you to get comfortable with each new ability without being overwhelmed. It also gives you further incentive to return to previous levels once you’ve mastered new abilities.
The challenge does eventually ramp up considerably, but the difficulty curve is mostly smooth. The later courses get demanding, but only after you've had an opportunity to get a grip on each aspect of gameplay. Furthermore, there are reasonably generous checkpoints in each level, so you can always brute-force your way through — if you don’t mind sacrificing the award for completing a level in a single run.
Outside of the main career mode, there’s a Portal mode, which randomly generates new levels based on criteria such as course length and difficulty. In theory, this gives you endless content. However, these procedurally generated levels don’t offer any specific objectives aside from just getting a high score, so they feel inconsequential.
There’s also a league mode where you can challenge your friends to set high scores on a regularly rotating course. This mode could be good fun if you can get a competitive group together, but if you’re playing solo, you’ll likely bounce off quickly.
OlliOlli World review: Story
In a surprising twist, OlliOlli World does offer a story to tie its career mode levels together. You start out by creating your own custom skater from a fairly large selection of options. Then, you begin your quest to become a Skate Wizard by meeting and impressing five legendary Skateboarding Gods, who will grant you access to Gnarvana.
The story is as outlandish as it sounds, but crosses over into cringey territory more often than not. Even worse, the kooky side characters you meet all talk like they’ve swallowed a two-decade-old skater’s lingo dictionary. Unfortunately, the game’s frequent attempts at humor rarely land.
Each level begins with a selection of side characters talking to your skater. You’ll quickly find yourself skipping these dialogue sequences as you hunger to get on with the actual skating. Thankfully, after a quick button press, you can jump straight onto your board.
OlliOlli World review: Visuals and audio
OlliOlli World switches out the pixel graphics of its predecessor for a 3D comic-book art style. World's cel-shaded look is appealing, and the pastel color palette adds to the game's laid-back vibe.
The music also contributes to the relaxed atmosphere. The soundtrack is stuffed with easy-listening tunes that will keep you feeling Zen, even after a massive bail on a tricky level. OlliOlli World is a perfect game to pair with a favorite playlist or gaming podcast. You won’t be missing anything by muting the character dialogue.
OlliOlli World review: Verdict
OlliOlli World is launching during an extremely crowded month for new releases. It’s easy to see a scenario where this game gets drowned out by all the competing noise. However, that would be a shame, as OlliOlli World is as tightly crafted an experience as you’re likely to play this year.
Its cartoon visuals might suggest a simplistic game that won't last a single afternoon, but looks can be deceiving. OlliOlli World is an immensely replayable skateboarding side-scroller that offers enough challenge to keep you hooked but never frustrated.