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OlliOlli World review: The gnarliest game of 2022

The player character and his friends overlook Radlandia.
OlliOlli World
MSRP $29.99
“OlliOlli World delivers beautiful, fast-paced, and captivating skateboarding fun.”
Pros
  • Enthralling gameplay
  • Easy to pick up, hard to master
  • Good difficulty curve
  • Charming characters and world
Cons
  • Abrupt ending

OlliOlli World is more than just a skateboarding game — it’s one of the best 2D platformers since Celeste. Like the best games of the genre, it knows that easy-to-learn-but-hard-to-master mechanics, rewarding obstacles, and high speeds that test one’s reaction time are the hallmarks of a great platformer.

Within minutes, OlliOlli World immediately got its hooks in me, and I’ve had a hard time putting the game down since. Players will never want the journey to end, even if it does somewhat abruptly.

Proving ground

OlliOlli World is remarkably easy to pick up and incredibly hard to put down. Players press a button to push themselves forward and flick or hold their controller’s left and right sticks to perform tricks. Of course, the game requires the players to pull off other stunts like grinding, wall riding, and manuals to progress, but it never strays too far from that simple core.

The game teaches the player new mechanics all the way through the final world, but if a player knows what they are doing, they can pull off these tricks right from the start of the game. Every level takes the player to a new, beautiful vista and lets players skate at high speeds through levels with branching paths and opportunities for sick stunts. It’s part Sonic the Hedgehog, part Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and part something wholly unique to this series.

OlliOlli World - Official Gameplay Overview Trailer

Some levels are simply there to give the player a rush as they rocket down the side of a slope before taking off and flying far through the air. Others are more challenging, but checkpoints are scattered just frequently enough throughout levels so that players never lose too much progress and still feel like they accomplish something after each checkpoint. That approach worked for Celeste, and it works here.

It’s part Sonic the Hedgehog, part Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and part something wholly unique to this series.

Previous OlliOlli games forced players to die and respawn if they didn’t press the right button when they landed. This game punishes players by ending their combos that contribute to the high score. And that score isn’t required for progression.

While many games like to lock progression behind the arbitrary challenge, players are allowed to complete as many challenges as they want and still move on. The game never stops the player because they aren’t good enough; it instreadrewards them for playing well. The main unlockables for scoring well and completing these challenges are flashy cosmetics, including a (Danny Trejo mask) — yes, really.

OlliOlli World is so addictive because its enthralling grip on players never lets go. That level of engagement motivated me to keep playing as I lost track of time and just wanted to see what was next.

An OlliOlli World player wall rides in the middle of a stage in the desert.

Radlandian wasteland

OlliOlli World’s plot doesn’t take itself too seriously but is fun nonetheless. In this game, the player is on an adventure to become a skate wizard and meet the five skate gods who reside in a magical plain called Gnarvana that overlooks the world of Radlandia. They’re traveling with a merry band of allies, including the photographer Suze, the previous skate wizard Chiffon, and a random dude who everyone calls Dad.

There are no end-of-the-world stakes here. OlliOlli World is about going on a journey with friends and bonding with them along the way. The player’s crew always speaks to the player before a level, setting the stage for where and why the player is skating there.

Much like skateboarding itself, OlliOlli World is more about the journey, not the destination.

The narrative mainly plays for laughs, and if it isn’t someone’s thing, they can skip all of these cutscenes and focus on the gameplay. The story’s primary purpose is to add depth to this colorful world. Reminiscent of fantasy cartoons like Hilda, the world of OlliOlli World is populated mainly by humans. However, players will also encounter living ice cream and trees, as well as seagulls that like to work out.

The only issue: This journey ends pretty abruptly after the fifth world without a climactic encounter or true mastery challenge to close out the adventure. Players will likely still have plenty of side levels and challenges to complete and can compete for high scores in leagues with other players, but this narrative ending still feels sudden when reached.

Because this game mesmerized me with its gameplay, getting sharply pulled out of the experience like this was a bit of a shock. But it’s an excellent sign that my only real problem with OlliOlli World is that I want to see more! Much like skateboarding itself, OlliOlli World is more about the journey, not the destination.

A map of Radlandia, the setting of OlliOlli World.

After completing the game, I’ve returned to my favorite levels and dipped my toes into the procedurally generated levels of Gnarvana. While these stages don’t have the handcrafted feel of the intricately designed levels, they deliver the same adrenaline-boosting gameplay for those who want more. They also provide a near-endless amount of content alongside the multiplayer leagues.

This year, it will be tough for another skateboarding game, or even another 2D platformer, to enthrall me in the same way OlliOlli World has. If you can squeeze in another game before Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring, make it OlliOlli World. 

Our take

OlliOlli World will go down as one of the best 2D platformers of 2022 and one of the best skateboarding games ever. Intricately designed levels that reward players’ skill and choice make playing the game a captivating experience. A colorful cast and world make it a warm and cozy experience to keep playing. It might not be revolutionary, but it’s masterfully crafted.

Is there a better alternative?

OlliOlli World is the best game of its kind. Players that want to see this game’s roots can check out the OlliOlli: Switch Stance collection on Nintendo Switch, though keep in mind that the first two games are significantly harder. Those who want to try 3D skateboarding games would enjoy Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, Session, or Skater XL. Celeste and Super Meat Boy are also good choices for speedy platformers that scratch the same itch.

How long will it last?

I completed the story of OlliOlli World in just over six hours. After that, I still had a ton of side levels to complete and the endless Gnarvana mode, so this is a game that could easily last players over a dozen hours.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Even in a crowded February, OlliOlli World will still be a highlight of the month, if not the year. It’s also the best and most accessible skateboarding game released in a long time.

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