REVIEW – Roll7 is back with its second game this year, having also created OlliOlli World, but Rollerdrome is not as outstanding a product. Still, it’s another game that underlines the fact that this British studio is capable of developing great games.
Steam synopsis: “Rollerdrome is a third-person action shooter that seamlessly blends high octane, visceral combat with fluid movement and tricking mechanics into one complementary and challenging whole to create an original adrenaline-pumping shooter experience like no other.”
Jet Set Radio, Matterhorn
The game’s visuals are instantly reminiscent of several SEGA Dreamcast games, but perhaps most notably, Jet Set Radio is similar to Rollerdrome’s visuals. The connection between the two games does not end there, as roller skating was fundamental to both products. However, the secondary focus here is on shooting because it is still a TPS. The trickery was not left out (it would have been a shame for the developers of OlliOlli, Roll7, to leave it out), but it’s not fair to compare Smilebit’s game from 2000 with Roll7’s because one of SEGA’s studios was still more heavily supported. In contrast, the only company behind Roll7 was Take-Two’s indie publishing arm, Private Division. There’s also a story about the dark secret of a company called Matterhorn. The gist is the nightmare of late capitalism in a dystopian 2030 behind an extreme blood sport, but to get the full story, you have to be able to play the game because the studio has presented a not easy (but fun) gameplay. You have to perform tricks to get more ammo, so you can’t just skate here and there.
Sure, sliding down the barrels, skating on the wall, spinning, and flipping is a must, and if you’re prepared enough, there’s a bullet-time system to make your aiming easier. It will be essential for several opponents before they put up a defence around themselves (the target varies from opponent to opponent). If we dodge attacks very accurately, we get extra points and rewards. The game’s positive attitude is appealing: you’ll be congratulated on an excellent performance, which makes it a pleasure to get out the virtual skates. You have to get there, though, because you have to master the basics (it’s not like you can move forward by reflexively hitting W on PC if you’re not playing on a controller). However, fortunately, Rollerdrome provides a lot of tutorials. While there’s still this easy-to-learn, hard-to-master approach in the gameplay, it doesn’t put the player in a situation where they boot up the game and are instantly left behind. The AI will always outnumber you, and yes, there should be an emphasis on the word AI. Unfortunately.
From skates to guns
After snipers and bat-wielding opponents, the visuals of Rollerdrome certainly stand out. The visuals bring the level of quality you’d expect from Roll7 (after all, it was one of the strong points of OlliOlli World), which is also helped by a suitably strong soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere nicely. The gameplay, however, falls short in that there is no cooperative or multiplayer mode, although the developers themselves have admittedly gone for a single-player experience, so we can only fight for position with our friends in the ranks, as there is no PvP either. The replayability is also questionable because if you get through the story, you can push through a much more challenging version, but it doesn’t seem enough.
However, this lack in replayability is partly compensated for by the fact that the boss fights and environments are pretty good, and there is no shortage of challenges here. That said, it’s not going to be a game that you can start for a quick spin in a few spare minutes (such as Quake III Arena or any of the Unreal Tournament games, neither of which are TPS, but that would be nitpicking). And yet, there is a gameplay loop that can be snapped at in appreciation: once you get used to the basics and settle in, Rollerdrome is an excellent follow-up to OlliOlli World. You can feel that the developers have not changed their tried and tested formula, and rightly so. If it works, why bother fixing it? It’s not YouTube with its continuous devolution since 201. However, one aspect of Rollerdrome that is pretty painful to the point that it blocks the game from getting a higher rating: the length. You can get through the story in roughly two hours. That isn’t an extended period.
Salted curved bread stick
Rollerdrome is like a salted curved bread stick. It’s a classic, old-fashioned experience, but you can only eat it once, and it’s eaten in a short period. However, despite all its shortcomings, it is a delicious pastry to eat. The reason Rollerdrome can’t get an eight out of ten is that it’s short. If it were longer, it would quickly deserve a higher score. If there were a cooperative or PvP section, an eight out of ten would be guaranteed. However, in its current format, it doesn’t deserve it, and after eating this pastry, you’ll need a drink due to the salt. The result is, once again, dry.
– You have to start somewhere
Publisher: Private Division (=Take-Two)
Release: August 16, 2022.