Developer Roll7 took their time with OlliOlli World, but that wasn’t the only game they’ve been working on. Just a few months after their OlliOlli reboot, they’re launching Rollerdrome – which we played on a PlayStation 5.
Part Rollerball, part Tony Hawk, part Jet Set Radio and part Max Payne, Rollerdrome certainly is an eclectic mix of styles and influences, but it comes together really well as a future sport game that’s a departure from OlliOlli while still feeling like a Roll7 title That last element can be seen in how it manages to capture that sense of wanting to push on and try again on previous stages, trying to maximize your performance.
As with most ‘future sports’ titles (Rollerball, Death Race and Speedball come to mind), there’s a backstory to what’s going on, and of course it involves some kind of evil corporation that isn’t entirely on the up and up. As with OlliOlli World, however, you can also just focus on the gameplay itself, and leave the story out there to explore if you feel interested.
The gameplay itself is reminiscent of Tony Hawk in many ways, except you’re on rollerblades instead of a skateboard. You can pull off crazy jumps and tricks too, but as this is a future sport there’s also a good bit of violence thrown in. Objectives thus range from performing trick moves to killing enemies with certain weapons equipped, and there are score challenges as well. But while some of that will feel Tony Hawk-like, gunning down enemies with a shotgun or assault rifle certainly won’t.
Your initial weapons will be dual pistols, so as you perform stunts and fire away at enemies it can feel a little Max Payne-esque, especially when you engage “Reflex Time”. The two are blended together nicely though, as your method of restocking on ammo isn’t to pick up ammo caches and hit reload, but to perform jumps, grinds and tricks. You get rewarded for these, and once you get comfortable with the controls you can string together your tricks and kills into nicely flowing combinations.
This is where Rollerdrome feels like a Roll7 title thanks to some excellent controls that allow you to flow – picking up health refills to help you keep your run going. You don’t rely on just a single tactic though, as different enemy types require different methods of taking them down effectively. In later levels, this might result in a difficulty spike that could prove to be frustrating for some – with overwhelming odds and enemy diversity throwing up a serious challenge.
Mastering abilities like Super Reflex can help you here, which is an ability that requires you to time your dodges perfectly. If that’s still too difficult, like it was for us, then you can lower the difficulty level through a few toggles as well – though this invalidates your score for the leaderboard. You can also replay previous levels instead, which is highly encouraged because you’ll likely beat each stage with a number of challenges left unfinished, allowing you to play through them again with a different approach. As per the norm with Roll7, levels are very well designed and open towards a variety of gameplay styles.
Visually, Rollerdrome’s cel-shaded look evokes memories of Jet Set Radio, and it’s a stylish look we haven’t seen in a while. At today’s high resolutions it looks extremely polished even though it’s not overflowing with visual details, and it’s certainly very different from OlliOlli. It has that same kind of “one more go” appeal though, so it’s easy to recommend this one.