Hands-on OlliOlli World Preview (PS5) – More Rad than Gnarly

OlliOlli World is about as good as it gets. The successor to both OlliOlli and OlliOlli 2, OlliOlli World takes the franchise in a radical new direction; literally and figuratively. Gone are the 2D pixellated visuals and in their place a vibrant, Pendleton Ward-esque fever dream of colour and wonder. Gone are the flat, 2D levels, replaced by gorgeous, throbbing and living works of 2.5D art.

Instead of a simple, vanilla level select, OlliOlli World includes an animated overworld, complete with bizarre characters, living ice-creams and more. OlliOlli World is to OlliOlli, what Super Mario World is to Super Mario Bros. A quantum leap forward, built of the incredible foundation of what came before. And most importantly of all, OlliOlli World is an outrageously good time. Even better than you’d expect.

I’m not sure if it’s the new focus on world-building and story or the tweaked gameplay mechanics or a combination but I do know that once I picked up OllliOlli World, I struggled to put it back down.

OlliOlli World Preview

Aside from being a handy shorthand when describing the OlliOlli World, Super Mario World appears to have been a huge influence on developer Roll7 when creating the game. Not only do we get the classic overworld, level select, secret missions and additional paths, OlliOlli World also includes a special, otherworldly place known as Gnarvana…remember the Special World on Super Mario World? With levels like Mondo, Tubular, Gnarly and the like?

It’s not just naming conventions and UI/UX elements though. The spirit of Nintendo’s platformer lives in OlliOlli World. The way in which levels are designed to both guide and challenge the player simultaneously, the visuals, that provide subtle clues about the gameplay and the very flow of that same gameplay. It’s as though Roll7 studied Nintendo’s best work and used that to create a skateboarding version of Super Mario.

OlliOlli World is still a side-scrolling skateboarding game, but it’s been elevated. Now, it feels like an arcade game, a platformer, a puzzle game and an endless runner all at the same time. It’s fast and fluid and feels great to play. It’s easy to pick up and play but takes dedication to master yet is forgiving enough that you’ll not get discouraged by failure.

It really is an example of a flawless marriage of gameplay, visuals and sound.

My hands-on (on PS5) was limited to the first few biomes of OlliOlli World which saw me tasked with becoming the new Skate Wizard, meeting the Skate Gods and unlocking Gnarvana. Each new level builds upon the previous one, adding new mechanics and elements. When you begin, learning OlliOlli World feels like balancing a stack of dishes. They sway left and right and threaten to topple over, but you just manage to keep them upright. Then, you add a new mechanic and another dish is stacked on top. It unbalances everything you’ve just steadied and it takes you a second to adjust for the new thing. And just as you get your balance again and there’s no threat of the stack coming down, another dish gets added and you start the disaster ballet all over again.

This sense of “gaming on the edge of your seat” is what keeps you coming back to OlliOlli World again and again. Not to mention that challenges included in each level, leaderboards, rivals and multiplayer.

The first time I completed a level in one long combo, I danced around the room for a full minute. But from then on, I was doomed to attempt it on every level, thus my progress was slow. I refused to move on until I finished in one, long combo. Eventually, I relented, but only after attempting one particularly devious wall-ride focused level dozens of times. It didn’t feel good using checkpoints, but I was about to pull what little remains of my hair out.

AND I STILL WANTED TO KEEP PLAYING!

That’s how addictive OlliOlli World is.

Where games in this genre often stumble after a handful of releases, OlliOlli World takes what was established in the past and turns everything up to 11. Well, except the music, it’s all lo-fi beats and it’s perfectly juxtaposed with the insanity happening on screen. It’s zen-like and anxiety-inducing all at once.

The visuals are what you’ll notice first and they’ll stay with you because the art design is impeccable, but it’s the gameplay that’ll really hook you and keep you playing for a good long time to come. While I’ve not seen everything OlliOlli World has to offer, I’m confident that it’s going to be every bit as awesome as it seems thus far.

Don’t sleep on OlliOlli World. It’s going to be one of the best experiences in gaming in 2022. Mark my words.

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Leo Stevensonhttps://powerup-gaming.com/
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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