To paraphrase Bushnell’s Law, OlliOlli epitomizes the “Easy to learn, hard to master” aphorism. There’s an air of the replayability and quick reloading of Canabalt meets the condensed control scheme of skate. along with the zaniness of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. All of it is nailed so well that it becomes it’s own beast. However, this beast will often chew you up and spit you out until you become better at it.
One thing you’ll spend the first half-hour OlliOlli doing, is learning the requirement of landing a trick. Any flat surface will require you to press ‘A’ (Xbox controller) or ‘X’ (PlayStation controller) to land. There’s an added depth to this, where timing is crucial. If you time it well, and you’ll get a ‘Perfect’ or ‘Sick’ landing which can greatly enhance the score you get from the run up until this point. Failing to do so will cause your character to stumble and fall into a horrific display as your clothes get torn as you tumble to a stop.
When everything is awesome, OlliOlli excels. You’ll be grinding from rail to rail, racking up a massive combo, landing perfect almost every time as you’re in tune with the music, shattering you previous score. When everything is not awesome though, can be a real chore, as it feels you’re grinding for no greater benefit to yourself. And that can be a real downer.
OlliOlli‘s career mode is where you’ll spend most of your time. Here you’ll have a set of Amateur challenges that have a checklist of five various items to complete, such as: racking up a specific combo, reaching a certain score, performing a trick, and/or only pushing once during the level. Each time you complete one, you earn one star. A star can be earned without completing a level, depending on the requirement. Once all five stars are earned, Pro levels are unlocked for a higher difficulty. A bonus, “RAD Mode” (which I was not able to unlock), is available once all of the prior challenges have been completed.
Spots rest in a separate tab, also having Amateur and Pro levels. Here, you are tasked with running the best line of tricks, and racking up a massive combo as you finish. If you make a mistake early, your run is essentially over. You can retry as much as you want, but it’s about creating the perfect line and maximizing the level to the fullest for a place on the leaderboard. It is here where the good players are separated from the great.
With five stages to unlock, each getting progressively more difficult. The second to last stage is a snow level. Playing the last stage in particular is the best and worst. It’s the best because it provides the most visual diversity, but in that, it’s hard to tell at first what objects you can grind on or land on. This can be remedied by retries, but the last two stages are significantly increased in difficulty, both in level design and in the challenges. You’ll end up going back to earlier levels, getting five stars before returning to the harder ones.
The Daily Grind drops you into a randomized level that you practice endlessly on, but only have one shot at getting that perfect run to place on the leaderboard for the next 24 hours. Leaderboards are every bit important to the game as actually playing, as it encourages competition and furthering that replayability. Your friends scores are easily available to toggle for comparison.
If you can’t remember how to perform a specific trick, the game includes a handy “Tricktionary” that will show you all that you need to remind yourself, or teach yourself how to do. The tutorial is also a good place to start if you’re playing the game for the first time.
Where OlliOlli‘s only major fault is the wall of difficulty that must be overcome in later stages, the advantage is that it’s just so fun to play, even when you’re not doing well. There’s a lot of systems at play, the biggest being wrapping your head around how to land properly, but once you start nailing that, it becomes a non-issue. At a glance, OlliOlli looks deceptively simple, but is remarkably deep and rewarding for the time that you’re willing to put into it. Do not this miss game anywhere you can find it.
A Steam code was provided by PR for review purposes