Talking to a skater skeleton
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OlliOlli World review

A radical refresh for the side-scrolling skater.

(Image: © Roll7)

Our Verdict

A fresh new style and smoothed out lines make OlliOlli World an unmissable skate 'em up.

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Need to know

What is it? Skateboarding as a side-scrolling platformer.
Expect to pay £25/$30
Release date February 8
Developer Roll7
Publisher Private Division
Reviewed on RTX 2070, 16GB RAM, AMD Ryzen 5 3600
Multiplayer? Online leaderboards
Link Official site (opens in new tab)

OlliOlli World isn't like other skaters. It's not shredding lines down some asphalt concourse, pissing off security guards and scaring passing shoppers as it slams a haphazard 50-50 into the curb. Roll7's series of side-scrolling skaters has instead travelled to the far-off shores of Radlandia, a skater's paradise where the rails are always polished, the ramps free of loose nails, and aspiring shredders compete for the chance to become the next Skate Wizard.

OlliOlli World is weirder and wilder than those who Olli'd before it—and it's all the better for it.

The third game in the series follows the template laid out by OlliOlli 1 and 2. You're tasked with skating a line down a side-scrolling course, using A to push and the left stick to launch into kickflips and the like (it's worth noting a controller is mandatory, and controls unfortunately cannot be rebound). As you go on you build up your bag of tricks, chaining combos with manuals, grinds, wallrides as you look to not only finish stages, but finish them in style—racking up high scores and hunting down secondary objectives.

Written like that, World doesn't sound too different from its forebears. But from the moment you fire up the game, it's clear World is shredding a line all of its own.

Fast fashion

(Image credit: Roll7)

Nice 'n' steezy

OlliOlli World loves skateboarding—not just the tricks and flips, but the culture, the fashion and the music, which in 2022 means more chillhop beats than thrash punk and ska. But it doesn't feel absolutely beholden to the idea of what skateboarding culture needs to look like. While OlliOlli 1 and 2 sported a recognisable set of parks and sidewalks to shred, World uses those touchstones to create a wonderfully surreal Adventure Time-esque skatopia.

It's a much-needed tonal refresh for the series, and one that plays perfectly into a new-found third dimension. Skate lines weave around cliffs, abandoned casinos, sludge factories and massive ice cream cones. Switching from flat backdrops to a world with real depth doesn't just make World a prettier game—it gives Roll7's designers much more space to challenge your skate skills.

Where before courses could only go from left to right, OlliOlli World's stages now shift back and forth, looping around on themselves with quarter pipe gaps and destructible floors that open new routes a second time round. 

Taking a gnarly route

(Image credit: Roll7)

This new freedom is best explored in tough new Gnarly Routes. Take the right rail, or switch lanes at the right time, and you'll be taken down a much harder (and more rewarding) path, demanding more precise jumps and tricks at a faster pace. You'll want to explore every nook and cranny, too. Besides simply beating the level and besting the locals' scores, there's more fashion to be unlocked by scouring the map to complete specific objectives, and hidden NPCs that unlock entirely new stages.

Easy Rolling

Ahead of playing World, I returned to the original OlliOlli and was blindsided by how immediately punishing it felt, the absolute precision it demanded from the get go. OlliOlli World, meanwhile, has taken great care to make its particular style of skating feel more laid-back and approachable—at least for the first few stages.

More punishing elements, like needing to slam 'A' perfectly on landing else suffer a massive speed penalty, have been removed in favour of offering higher score bonuses. But levels also feel more laid-back at first, and new elements are doled out so gradually that you'll still be getting tutorials well into the third or fourth region out of the game's five total.

At times it can feel like World is pulling its punches, but that's only because when it finally hits out, its challenges are brutal, multi-layered fares that demand you perfectly string precision grinds, wallrides, transfers and tricks at a breakneck pace, keeping a constant eye on the track as you loop around and navigate lines that break apart on themselves. I went from effortlessly perfecting courses to struggling to even survive them. Checkpoints will let you battle stages one chunk at a time, but there's always that implicit pressure to nail that one perfect run.

Each map has its own leaderboards, and revisiting a stage will assign you a rival to face off against. But that's a lot of stages to battle over—and while I'm sure there'll be folks battling for these spots, Gnarvana is where most challenge-seekers will get their fix. 

Shredding a rail through gnarvana

(Image credit: Roll7)

Unlocked after beating the first region, Gnarvana is a mystical space that lets you generate and share tracks by choosing their difficulty, length, and biome (or by entering a 'postcode' seed). Being cobbled together from proc-gen parts they miss the bespoke appeal of the main stages, but it's also where World's Daily Challenges exist—spewing out a new track every day to fight over. 

It immediately tickles the part of my brain that religiously took on Nuclear Throne dailies for a year. In letting you view replays from other contenders, it's also lo-key a great learning tool for figuring out how to maximize your routes (though I found replays could often be a little off-sync).

Stick the landing

Roll7 could've played it safe for a third OlliOlli. OlliOlli 2 was, after all, a fairly safe sequel that refined on and tightened up the format laid down by a 2014 debut Phil adored (opens in new tab), so it's easy to imagine a world where a third iterated to perfection a la Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. 

But in shedding the grounded style of its predecessors, OlliOlli World gives the series a much-needed sense of identity. OlliOlli isn't just 2D Skate now—it's a wonderfully surreal skateboarding paradise, a vibrant rhythmic platformer played out on grind rails and halfpipes.

A hard pivot to stoner skater Pendleton Ward aesthetics and a gentler learning curve might risk putting off series die-hards, but skateboarding games are in the midst of a renaissance (opens in new tab) that includes kickflipping budgies, lo-fi halfpipe toys and crystalline skate sessions in the underworld beneath New York. OlliOlli World's radical reinvention doesn't just help it keep up with this pack of new skaters—it's just what the series needed to spawn one of the most stylish, satisfying skaters around.

The Verdict
OlliOlli World

A fresh new style and smoothed out lines make OlliOlli World an unmissable skate 'em up.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.