OlliOlli World Review – Skateboarding Bliss And Blisters

When you think of skateboarding video games, two names come to mind: Tony Hawk, and Skate. These two series are pretty much in the pantheons of the skateboarding video game gods for showing the world the fun, beauty, and how brutal this extreme sport is.

But can the pantheon make room for one more?

Indie developers Roll7 is back with a new entry to the OlliOlli skateboarding platformer series. This third entry, OlliOlli World, has the backing of a new publisher (Private Division), a major shift in art style, and the same hard-as-nails but oh-so-satisfying gameplay of the series, made more approachable.

There are so many things that OlliOlli World does right. And man it feels so good when you get it all right.


OlliOlli World ushers in a new age for Roll7 games: the art style is now fully 3D. Out goes the 2D pixel art and in comes the cel-shaded-ish cartoon style with funky, poppy pastel colours. It’s charming and definitely stands out in the sea of today’s video games.

The game still only scrolls from side to side, but the 3D models give more room for more background detail to enrich this weird and wacky world. See other skaters shredding off the main path. See muscular seagulls flex their bods and make them gawk at your sick BS 720 Flip. Humanoids (which some may not be human), deers and ice creams visiting the mall.

Yet it’ll never distract or get in the way. OlliOlli World cleverly shades the main gameplay parts in bolder colours. For example, the main skatable path, the rails, and the hazards have the same colours throughout the same stage, colours that make those gameplay-critical elements strongly contrast against the window dressing. The advert walls that you wallrun on have adverts… but the art on there only have stencil lines with very light shading. Which makes it easy to ignore when you just want to focus on the game. But the little details are there if you want to take in the sights of Radlandia.

The audio side is also fascinating. OlliOlli World has a banger of a soundtrack, featuring many lesser-known but already established artists. “Chill songs to vibe and skate to” is what I would call this Spotify playlist, filled with upbeat beats that never demands your attention, but always keeps your attention to the task at hand. You start with a handful, but as you progress you’ll find levels with new music that will then unlock and be added to the selection. Yeah, you unlock songs.

Fascinatingly, the shoulder bumpers (L1/R1 buttons) are dedicated entirely to switching to the next or previous song, pressing both simultaneously repeats the song. And this works everywhere. Even in the pause menu, in loading screens and the credits sequence, you still change the music like it’s a separate Spotify app playing in the background.

It stops short of bringing back the good old EA Trax options, though. If only you can customise what songs you want to be in the playlist, a random shuffle, and a loop-one-song option.

Characters just speak in charming gibberish (think Animal Crossing noises with the occasional discernable English) which is cute. The skateboard sounds are what you expect them to be. Wheels audibly roll, an ollie (ollie) off the ground does that satisfying snap sound, and a rail being grinded on and a wall being run is as satisfying as you want it to be.

While the music remains untouched and pure, the audio bits do change to reflect the environment. There are places where all sounds are a bit echoey, for example.


In OlliOlli World, you’re an aspiring Skate Wizard. After acing the try-outs, you are set off on a journey with the incumbent Skate Wizard and her merry crew to skate through the lands of Radlandia. After a long intro and setup to the world (all perfectly timed to match the backing song, Yama by Fardust), you’ll off creating your character and then start the game.

OlliOlli World treats skateboarding as if it’s a spiritual exercise. Lore-wise, becoming a Skate Wizard means you need to be good enough to impress the five Skate Godz, with the ultimate goal being reaching “Gnarvana”. And the whole spiritual metaphor makes a lot of sense once you get your hands on the game.

If you never played an OlliOlli game before, here’s the elevator pitch before we dive into the nitty-gritty. Have you ever stared at the scenery outside the window of a train, bus, or car and imagined a god-like skater doing sick tricks and grinds along your travels?

You can also see it as the ultimate, perfect vision that the old 2D Sonic The Hedgehog games aimed to be: the player has complete control of the character’s momentum, and effortlessly move at high speeds nailing jumps, switching routes and keeping it all together until the end of the stage.

That’s OlliOlli in a nutshell.

Finger Flicking Good

The mechanics in OlliOlli World is a tad different than your usual skateboarding games. First, you auto-scroll, you don’t directly control your forward movement. Second, all flip tricks, including the skateboarding equivalent to jumping, the ollie (ollie), requires input from the left analog stick. You pull the stick down, then release it to ollie (ollie).

Kickflips are done by doing a similar flick motion, but starts by moving the stick to the left. Advance tricks require quarter-circle, half-circle and even three-quarter circle motions. Special tricks may require you to do full rotations, half-circle back-and-forths. And remember that it’s the release of the stick that makes you jump.

(Don’t play this game with a controller suffering from stick drifts.)

If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. The first few levels will give you ample time to get comfortable with the basic mechanics, and the game takes its sweet time dolling out tutorials. If you’re a newcomer, you’re accounted for. If you’re an OlliOlli veteran, you should be able to pull off all the sick tricks you knew from past games without worry. The game won’t barrage you with a laden of tutorials either- the last important skill to learn is introduced more than halfway through the game. They stretched it that long.

And for good reason. Stick-flicking is just one small part of your skating toolkit. There’s rail grinding, wallrunning, grab tricks, spins, manuals. And if you want to go deeper, there are also late tricks that require an extra button press, perfect landings that reward you for pressing a different button at the right time, grind tweaks and grind switches, and spins. Oh, and the game is in 2.5D now so they get to add lane switching which makes levels less linear thanks to alternate paths.

Gentle Difficulty Incline… Until The Big Ramp

Is it a lot? Absolutely. And I’m glad to see the initial ramp in difficulty being a gentle, small incline. OlliOlli World sprinkles in the rest of the ingredients of this skating goodness while you continue to work that mixture, work that muscle memory of flip tricks. Because it’s easy to get confused or misremember how to jump.

There were many occasions where I jumbled the land button thinking it was the jump button. That’s the platformer muscle kicking in. And if you want to fully enjoy OlliOlli World, you need to develop a whole new set of muscle memory.

But don’t worry OlliOlli veterans. After a certain point, when the tutorial for manuals is introduced, the game will ramp up in difficulty to a level you might have expected. By then, I assume newcomers will be ready for the gauntlets of levels to come, because boy they ramped it up really high.

I personally got a wake-up call at this point. Since I played a bit of OlliOlli 2 back then, I was bossing the initial levels no problem. Then, the final few levels of OlliOlli World were unforgiving at places, especially if you intend to post a high score run or a no-checkpoint clear. It’s doable, but the game expects you to be doing your absolute best.

Deceptively Easy, Deceptively Difficult

OlliOlli World is both deceptively easy and deceptively difficult at times. I’ve listed down the trick mechanics, and the bare minimum you need to pass a level is only these fundamentals – jumps, grinds and wallruns. All can be done by just… flicking the stick down at the right time. Everything else is simply for high scores.

And even when you want to start doing Tony Hawk-esque (the game series, not the legend) trick combos there’s also a lot of conveniences. You don’t balance your rails and manuals. You don’t need to land with the wheel pointing properly straight (the game auto-adjusts for you). The key to a long combo is just keeping it at a good rhythm.

There were some mechanics from past OlliOlli games that were punishing that has been turned into a bonus feature, so folks who already mastered them can still benefit from it.

To quote a spiritual text you may or may not be familiar with: “So, surely with hardship comes ease”.

Not The Bees

But if you come in thinking OlliOlli World is now super easy then you’re wrong. Because good god there are so many challenges and side objectives that are seemingly easy but took a ridiculous amount of time before I got it.

For example, in one of the levels in the forests of Cloverbrook, one side objective requires you to jump over two bees. Sounds simple enough, simple enough that I got one bee jumped over in my first run. Going back to attempt that objective, apparently, the other bee was located right at the start of the level. This looks doable.

Then it was 30 minutes past, as I keep hitting retry (thankfully retries are instant and only one button away) and just couldn’t get enough air to jump over this one darned bee. It was taking so much time and effort that once I did get the first bee jumped over, the other one that was easily cleared now caused me problems. Thankfully there are checkpoints that saved me from having to repeat the first bit all over again.

OlliOlli World requires your fullest dedication if you want to beat the most of its side content. Because that one particular example is not just one. If you found that racing level with the bear, I wish you good luck. And the later levels will test the most hardened of Skate Wizards.

Gentle Nudge

That all being said, I do love this feeling of being nudged into doing the almost impossible. OlliOlli World invites you to make an attempt, makes you feel you are probably good enough, then forces you to get better to actually complete them. It’s so close, you can do it. It’s not trolling you into getting pummeled by sheer difficulty.

It’s cheering you on saying “you got this”. Just like the Impossible trick (stick down and do a full rotation to pull this one), it’s not impossible, but will require a lot of retries, some trial-and-error, and patience to finally get it done.

And it’s during these tough sessions is where you appreciate the droning but focusing songs that are in the playlist. Some of the tracks are good to chill out to, some really help you to get in the zone (Zerolex – Ethereal (Nikitch Remix) is a personal favourite).

You’re A Skate Wizard, Harry!

Once you do get through all the hardship in learning its intricate and unique skating mechanics, OlliOlli World is pure bliss. When you get into the flow state, the Fujiwara zone, deep in zen, ascended into a trance of focus, or whatever else you want to call that sensation, skating through the levels becomes an absolute blast.

There will be moments where you are just pogging at the screen as you see the camera zooms out to reveal big gaps and tricky rails to hit, but your thumbs move on their own and react on instinct to something your eyes still can’t believe what it’s seeing.

You’ll feel like a wizard casting a wicked spell you yourself have no idea how strong it might be. Or a cook handling the high heat of stir fry with ease and finesse. Or like an actual pro skateboarder nailing a sick trick over the set of stairs. Or as the kids say these days, you feel like you’re gaming.

It’s these moments where OlliOlli World truly shines. The efforts after falling over, over, over and over again were all worth it for that one legendary run you pulled off just now. And you can watch it unfold again in replays.

There will also be moments, similar to the bee example, where you are dead set in completing one crazy side objective, slowly building the right muscle memory with each retry until it all clicks together. It’s one hell of a cathartic feeling, overcoming a seemingly simple but actually hard obstacle.

Around The World Around The World

The levels in OlliOlli World are designed by geniuses. The starting region of Sunshine Valley is really laid back and simple, but over time you see the layouts getting more and more complex, requiring more precise timings on your jumps, and gnarly alternative routes that will make you go round and round. Like literally.

Lane switching isn’t just picking route A or route B. Sometimes Route B can lead to Route C and loops back route A, but is possible to go back for another round of route B if you jump over some of the collapsing platforms.

By the last two regions, you will be dazzled by how they have ramped the level complexity to 11, after letting the dial at 6 or 7 for most of the game.

Just like skateboarding in real life, it can be a painful experience playing parts of OlliOlli World, especially if you strive to be on the global leaderboards. But if you want to go sweaty, it’s really fulfilling. The controls are tight as you want a skateboarding game or a platformer.

And it’s a good game to make use of a high refresh rate, low latency display. I tried the game on an old LED TV from years ago and even with Game Mode on, it can’t keep up. My inputs were a bit off and I feel the effect of ghosting. The game may not look fast, especially if you just watch gameplay streams, but it is.


OlliOlli World isn’t a long game by any stretch. By the time this review is published, I’ve spent a good 17 hours and already feel fulfilled, with many side objectives and high scores from the final two regions yet to be completed. I’d say it’s less than 10 hours (maybe even five) to just play through the critical path. And in a game like OlliOlli World where it’s all about short-burst levels, the story shouldn’t be that long either.

There will be something in store for players who finished the game and wants a reason to revisit the levels again. And boy, it’s a tough one. Like, proper hard. All those random placements of objects in some levels don’t seem so random anymore.

If you’re here for the story, it’s a charming road-trip story. I like that the gang all are there to serve in-lore justification to gameplay features. Incumbent Skate Wizard Chiffon uses her magical skate powers to provide you with checkpoints and insta-retries. Hype man Gnarly Mike is the guy setting up the three side-objectives for each level. Suze records your runs with the camera Cammy and that’s why you have replays. And the person named Dad is there… to justify the dad puns, I guess. Hey, they made sure to have an in-universe reason for the corny puns, I dig that.

Along the way, you’ll meet various local heroes, skaters native to the region that give you more flavour to the world, and serve as the local high scores you can beat for sweet unlocks.

The character customisation is great. You have a body slider rather than a binary gender choice and buttloads of clothing with new drip unlocking as you progress through the story. Having options to put headscarves on for my minah skater is rad to see, and there are plenty of fashion themes to satisfy skaters and non-skaters alike.

I like that when you pick an overlapping piece of clothing, instead of removing said clothing it just hides it. You have it equipped but an icon lets you know it’s not showing on the character. This way, you don’t have to trudge through the menus again to re-equip that clothing piece. And also, every time you select a clothing item, pressing it again undo the change. Which makes it easier to compare the changes, or revert back if you change your mind. Other devs, steal this, please. This is brilliant.

You can customise your skateboard too with different trucks, decks and wheels. Do you want breathing RGB skate wheels? A shovel as a board? It’s there for you to unlock.

Though the game could use an outfit save feature. There are so many different ways you can style your skater but man I don’t want to recreate the same look again if I decide to make radical changes but want to revert everything back.

For those looking for more gameplay content once you’re done with the story, there are two extra modes both of which are asynchronous multiplayer, i.e. online leaderboards. Gnarvana League is ranked multiplayer where you are assigned a rank and a leaderboard of competitors.

Depending on how you ranked after the time ends, you either get promoted or demoted. Getting promoted will get you rewards. The levels here are not what you play in the main story. Rather, it’s a procedurally-generated one so you’ll always be flying in the seat of your pants. No prior level knowledge is being tested here, just pure skateboarding skills.

Now if you want to have your little private leaderboard of a procedurally-generated level, you can do that too via the Gnarvana Portal. You can’t exactly design or edit the level, but you can set parameters (how long and how hard/easy it is) to which the generator will adhere to.

Once created, you can invite players to skate through it and post their high scores. This feature works cross-platform, the same code will get you to the same level and the same leaderboard which is neat.

The two multiplayer modes will extend your playtime should you wish for more levels to shred through. Plus, OlliOlli World already has plans for expansion DLCs, so those who’ve decided to get this game can expect more content coming.

There is a photo mode, but right now it’s just there. You can’t take up-close shots or change the angles as you see in the official screenshots, which is a bummer. But you can take a picture of your squinty skater as they do the big jumps and long rails, but it’s not too exciting to look at.

Personal Enjoyment

I vaguely remember the time I played OIliOlli 2. It was fun, it was hard as nails, but it’s also so unrelenting and unforgiving that I stopped playing it after not much progress. And I didn’t boot the game up prior to reviewing OlliOlli World either, wanting to judge this new entry on its own.

Because OlliOlli World does a much better job at inviting you in its… world. And holds my attention much better too. The aesthetics change was a great move. It brings the chill vibes of the ’20s (that includes pointy remarks on capitalism), yet still honour skateboarding culture which I find refreshing.

But the biggest trick the team at Roll7 pulled off is making the game feel both easy and hard at the same time. Some aspects are simplified compared to other skateboarding games, others more complex. And throughout my time playing, I never felt that the game was setting me to fail.

The gameplay is consistent and for the most part, you’ll know what exactly you did wrong, and then attempt to try and fix that. But there are some aspects that are either missing or I just missed, like how exactly do you maintain or gain more speed?

That said, with it being taxing in the mind and thumbs, I find it hard to play OlliOlli World for long sessions. It’s snackable and playable in short bursts, it’s oh-so-rewarding when you finally nail that side objective or beat that rival score, but it also drains me a lot. Less of a flaw of the game, but more of a me-problem here.


Underneath OlliOlli World’s fresh new look and banging soundtrack is a unique brand of skateboarding and platformer game that requires some learning, persistence and grit to enjoy it to the fullest.

This entry makes strides to invite newcomers to finish the levels thanks to its charming story and other mechanical tweaks. However, it also tends to lead them to attempt deceptively difficult side challenges that may be too frustrating and hard. For hardcore fans of the series who knows what’s up, that same, zen-like experience of flicking sticks for sick tricks remains intact. The gameplay requires mastery of its control scheme and rewards greatly those that successfully do so.

OlliOlli World deserves a spot to be amongst the best skateboarding games ever made.

Played On PC. Review copy provided by the publisher


OlliOlli World

Underneath OlliOlli World's fresh new look and banging soundtrack is a unique brand of skateboarding and platformer game that requires some learning, persistence and grit to enjoy it to the fullest.

OlliOlli World deserves a spot to be amongst the best skateboarding games ever made.

  • Presentation 10
  • Gameplay 9
  • Content 8.5
  • Personal Enjoyment 8.5

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