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Jacob's DGB 01.2023 Review

Opening

God of War is a playstation exclusive game that released in 2018 and on pc in 2022. It takes 25-50 hours to beat, so despite having started a month or two early, destiny laughed at my plans and decided I could not cover that game this month.


Olli Olli World launched on every common system (Playstation, Xbox, Switch and PC) in 2022. It is developed by Roll7 and is the third OlliOlli game in the series.


Story

You create a character that is on their way to becoming a shredding, skate-boarding god. Surrounded by a couple “special” friends that are full of personality and encouragement for you to become the greatest, you work your way through five different regions of Radlandia, meeting each region’s god, to achieve Gnarvana. Each region has a line of levels (imagine Super Mario Bros.), each with their own unique challenges, beat it in one life, and three “local heroes’” (probably developer) scores to beat. Some levels have sidequests, which usually mean there’s a hidden route to take to meet someone. Meeting that someone unlocks a challenge level you can beat for a special reward. Each region is thematic in its visual design and what the game is trying to teach you.

Visuals

That leads me straight into the visuals. This game is super vibrant and colorful. Bright colors help to subconsciously understand what terrain is coming up quickly, be it a ramp, a pipe to grind, stairs, crystals to smash, etc. Later in the game there are alternate routes you can take via a lane change, and that can lead to some crazy level design. It gets a little complicated and distracting when there are several routes visible in the foreground and background, and you are concentrating on your chosen route. Back to the character design, the basics are easy, like hair style, eye and so on, but every level offers an unlockable outfit or skateboard option to get by beating challenges or side quests. I really appreciated that the game didn’t front load ALLLLLLLL of the unlockables at the beginning of the game, right when I was creating my character. It slowly reveals what you have or can unlock as you progress through the game. These unlocks don’t provide any benefit except looking even cooler, stats aren’t changed like in an rpg.


Sound Design

I finally have notes about the sound design! I would argue it’s vital to have the sound on for this game. There’s so much importance in timing while you play. You have to press a button every time you land (to stick the landing) and there’s a gauge of how well you land. It’s the same for grinding a rail, you have to push the left stick in one of the four directions (it changes what kind of grind it is), and you have to time it just right to try to get a perfect landing. The sound of your landing lets you know how well you landed. A bad landing starting a grind sounds like you are hurting the trucks of your board, it sounds like something is wrong, while a perfect landing almost sounds like a balloon is being popped and it sounds smooth. Same with a regular landing, you can tell bad from good from perfect without taking your eyes off of what’s coming up next.


The soundtrack points out the interesting perspective of this game? The friends the main character hangs out with are caricatures of people, so hyper profiling for lulz. There’s the ability for your character to dress however you want, in an attempt to be open to gender barriers or whatever. You would think the game would go with the easy choice of skateboarders being a bunch of doomers into punk or hardcore, but the game is so bright and colorful, your friends are always encouraging you to become the next skate god…. The soundtrack is very happy pop. While not really my preferred genre, it fits perfectly with the aesthetic. I love that its balanced so that it doesn’t invade the air waves, it doesn’t distract from playing the game, it just helps to fill the air so you aren’t just hearing skateboard noises. My one complaint is that it seems like the setlist is the same every time, so you hear the same song every time you boot up the game. That’s kind of a bummer, especially because I’m pretty sure I saw that I was unlocking new songs while I progressed through the game. The left and right bumpers on the controller are mapped to go back or forward a song.


Gameplay

Speaking of buttons, the first thing this game tells you is that it’s designed for a controller. To do a trick, you start the left stick in any of the four tricks, and then rotate it around to varying degrees for different and more complex tricks. The right stick is used while you are in the air to grab the skateboard. The triggers are used to spin your character while in the air. A is used for landings or to speed up. Y is used to start again at the last checkpoint, or to start the run over. It sounds simple, and the game takes its time teaching you all of these mechanics, but it gets very complicated trying to time everything right, trying to chain all of your tricks together, trying not to crash and die, etc. It’s possible to playthrough without using a bunch of the mechanics, but you need to use them all to get high scores and beat the local heroes. Olli Olli games are great in their design because the challenges increase in difficulty to the point that I can’t 100% the game, but it’s still so much fun to just play through, try to improve, and feel like a super cool skateboarding dude (something I’ll never be in real life).


Closing

I played the first two Olli Olli games on my PS Vita a long time ago. Besides my obvious bias for the vita, it really did feel like the perfect platform for the games. The levels are short enough you can knock a couple out quick, put the system in your pocket and continue with your life. I would imagine that the switch would be comparable, just bigger than the vita. I played this on PC and I was wishing I had a portable option. This game runs great, it looks great, it’s a ton of fun and it feels like a solid improvement from the last two games. It doesn’t feel like it’s just more Olli Olli. I got this game in a $12 Humble Bundle Monthly, and to my surprise they threw in the season pass. It’s usually $18 on steam, and it’s totally worth the price.


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