Get Your Skates On For This PlayStation And PC Treat

There are too many video games. Too many games coming out and too many in our backlogs. There are so many games that I’m having to give up on many of them after 3o minutes or so. At the 30-minute mark of rollerdromethough, all I could think was “I’m going to be obsessed with this.”

I received access to an early build and, for now, I’m allowed to discuss the first six levels. (For those keeping record, it took me around an hour and a half to get through them.)

Developer Roll7 has dropped Rollerball, The Running Man and Jet-Set Radio into a blender and whizzed them together into what so far is a wickedly fun game. rollerdrome is a single-player, third-person action shooter on roller skates. You play as Kara Hassan, a rookie in a near-future blood sport of the same name. Competitors pull off tricks and kill enemies (called House Players) as quickly and stylishly as possible for the edification of the audience. If they’re not victorious, they die.

Impressing the judges with big tricks is important. That’s how you regain ammo for your weapons — which is a mechanic I absolutely love. You’ll need to combine grabs, spins, flips, grinds and wallrides with kills and combo multiplier tokens to rack up as many points as you can and beat out Kara’s competition.

As in the Tony Hawk games, you’ll need to complete a certain number of objectives to unlock new stages. There are 10 challenges per level and they include things like achieving high scores, defeating enemies in certain ways and pulling off a specific move while grabbing a trick token.

There are several assist mode options, including the ability to turn off the challenges requirement — you’ll only need to kill all the enemies in a level to advance to the next stage. However, your score will not be added to the leaderboard if you use assist mode. Other assist mode options include damage scaling (or invulnerability), unlimited ammo and infinite reflex time.

Some players might need those modifiers to make much progress. The first stage is relatively straightforward, with only a couple of enemy types that are fairly easy to deal with. You’ll know when a sniper has you in their sights, and you’ll be able to dodge out of the way. The aforementioned reflex time feature allows you to slow down time and swiftly take out an enemy or two.

The difficulty ramps up quite quickly as you progress through the levels and rollerdrome introduces more enemies and enemy types. You’ll need to be very aware of what’s going on around you (haptic feedback and 3D audio on PS5 may help with that, though I played on Steam). Also, you’ll only restore health by killing enemies.

You won’t have to worry about precise aiming, at least with your dual pistols or shotgun. As long as a target is within range and somewhere on your screen, rollerdrome will lock onto them and make them easy pickings — perhaps while you’re flipping through the air. Later, you’ll pick up a grenade launcher, which requires slightly more finesse. Having autoaim is important, because this is a fast-paced game, but I didn’t feel like it diminished the challenge.

There’s a distinctive, gorgeous art style too. It takes inspiration from Moebius and cel-shaded comic book art. It’s reminiscent of both Roll7’s previous game, OlliOlli Worldand a wonderful film I love very much called Turbo Kid. Between the vivid colors, fine lines and clean animations, these visuals will stick with me for a while.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten hooked on a game with an online leaderboard. rollerdrome is scratching that itch for me in a way that Neon White does not. Along with a global leaderboard, you’ll be able to compare your scores against your friends for bragging rights.

The main drawback for me at the minute is the story. It’s fairly slight in this first chunk of the game. It’s clear the organization that pits Kara and the other competitors against each other isn’t exactly on the up and up, and there are some hints as to why many of these folks got involved in the sport in the first place. There isn’t much depth to the story as yet, though, with only a few short scenes and radio chatter, newspapers and various documents sketching in the broad strokes.

I hope the narrative becomes more satisfying in the latter stages, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The gameplay more than makes up for the lackluster storytelling to this point. I can already tell I’ll be replaying these levels many times to complete all the challenges and try to improve my high score and rank.

One of the games I bounced off after 30 minutes this year was Roll7’s original OlliOlli. It just did not land for me. Like that title, rollerdrome is pitched as a flow state game, with the idea that you get fully immersed and in the zone while playing. The studio’s latest offering feels much more in my wheelhouse, though.

There are too many video games. But the achingly cool rollerdrome is absolutely one worth having on your radar.

rollerdrome will arrive on Steam, PS4 and PS5 on August 16. It will be a PlayStation console exclusive for at least six months.


Leave a Comment