Rollerdrome Review – They See Me Rollin’ (PC)

Rollerdrome is a fun, fast-paced new title which borrows ideas from multiple classic games and meshes them together in order to create something new. Skating around whilst shooting enemies in slow-motion feels as cool to play as you might imagine and the game’s stunning visuals only help to enhance this stylish experience.

Rollerdrome Review - They See Me Rollin' (PC)

Ever since Rollerdrome was first announced, I have been dying to get my hands on it for review. Almost everything in this game’s marketing spoke to me. Whether that be the clear influence of classic titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Max Payne. Or whether it was the striking cell-shaded aesthetic of the game, the frenetic energy of the mechanics, or the pumping electronic score pounding alongside the onscreen action.

Now that the game has been released, I can thankfully say that it met many of the lofty expectations that it previously set for itself via its snappy, engaging trailers. Simple mechanics and an obvious influence from other stylish games from past generations prove that making a fun gaming experience doesn’t necessitate re-inventing the wheel.

Rollerdrome is available to purchase on PC, PS4 and PlayStation 5 for $19.79.

This is a spoiler-free review.

Rollerdrome - Official Reveal Trailer

Story: Seemingly Not Much to Tell

Whilst there is more lore to Rollerdrome than there is a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game, the actual story elements present in Rollerdrome are minimal. The only real story-based stuff in the game are the brief sequences between tournaments. In these odd, first-person sequences, the player can wander around an empty locker room prior to entering the location of the next level.

These sequences were unexpected, though I quite enjoyed them for what they were. They somewhat reminded me of the backstage sequences in the old WWE games on PlayStation 2. Picking up the blood-soaked helmets of other players in the tournament to inspect them, or reading a post-it note left behind by another person who inhabits this strange futuristic world aids in world-building. These moments help to provide the player with a better idea of how this futuristic society operates.

Some of the clues able to be found along with the character design and nature of the tournament taking place suggest that 2030 is a pretty bloodthirsty time within the universe of Rollerdrome. It almost recalls a pessimistic look into the future which you might see in an action/sci-fi film from the 1970s such as Death Race 2000, or Rollerball.

The character design in this game is really cool.

The character design in this game is really cool.

In terms of the game’s protagonist, whilst she is still fairly mysterious, we do come to learn more about her as the game progresses. This is also the case for the behind-the-scenes conspiracy taking place during the game’s events, which slowly unfurls as progress is made.

One of my favourite things about Rollerdrome’s characters is the way that they have been designed. The distinctive Speed Racer-like helmets and the sharp colour scheme make the characters pop regardless of what environment they happen to be skating in. The comic book-esque visuals blend perfectly with the visceral level of bloodsport on display.

Whilst they are never front and centre, the story elements in Rollerdrome are best experienced without any prior knowledge. Therefore players interested in the game should probably refrain from looking up any details beforehand in order to best experience the game.

Gameplay: Simple Complexity

When playing through Rollerdrome for review, one of the first things that I noticed was just how clever the gameplay mechanics were. Whilst the actual control scheme is fairly straightforward, as soon as the player gets their head around the new mechanic introduced, the challenge curve increases.

This well-crafted balance ensures that the game never becomes too easy, nor overwhelmingly challenging. The challenge curve in Rollerdrome is well managed throughout to ensure that the player is able to overcome the increasing difficulty of the game as long as they remain focused and engaged.

Try and keep up.

Try and keep up.

One moment which I would like to specifically point out concerning to the game’s difficulty, – and something that I greatly appreciated given that I was playing Rollerdrome for review and had to beat it by a specific deadline, – was during a boss fight. The first boss fight immediately follows a fairly challenging level, with no clear break in between. The first time that I fought the boss, it killed me and I despaired at the thought of having to go back and play the whole level over again.

Not only does the game not force players to do that, but it actually gives them the option. After dying during a boss battle, a menu appears asking if you would like to go back to the start of the entire level or restart from the beginning of the boss fight. As someone with a fairly hectic schedule, I greatly appreciated this small mercy.

The control scheme is also extremely intuitive, to the point where the majority of the inputs become second nature. It is just as well that this is the case, as having to think about complicated controls whilst in amongst the intense, break-neck action of the game would have made it needlessly tough.

The straightforward controls also aid in the player being able to feel truly cool in certain moments. Doing a backflip off of a wall in slow-motion whilst nailing every shot on an enemy feels and looks incredible. This is also achieved through the aim assist, which works much the same as it does in the Max Payne games, locking the crosshair onto an enemy whilst the character flies through the air.

In situations like these, timing is everything.

In situations like these, timing is everything.

The other big comparison gameplay-wise is that of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Not only do the tricks and camera angles immediately bring to mind memories of that game, but the progression system is also extremely similar. Just like in Tony Hawk, the player must complete a certain number of challenges listed at the beginning of each level, before they can move on to the next stage.

Although these elements are almost identical to gameplay elements seen in the THPS games, Rollerdrome manages to add another dimension on to them. All of the guns in the game only hold a certain amount of ammo. There are no ammo pick-ups in the environment. Instead, the player must complete tricks in amongst the hail of bullets and rockets in order to replenish their ammo.

Managing this in amongst trying to complete each level within a set time limit and complete the previously mentioned challenges adds to the game’s difficulty. As does keeping an eye on the character’s health. When each enemy is eliminated, they will drop a number of health crystals which can be collected by skating over them.

Another thing which I felt Rollerdrome balanced well when playing it for review, was its frenetic, quick pace. Even though the player is constantly moving and having to avoid all sorts of projectiles, the well-implemented use of Bullet-Time ensures that the game’s intensity is never too overwhelming. As long as the player is able to time a few perfect dodges and create some distance between themselves and the multiple rockets on their tail, then most sticky situations can be avoided.

No matter what, keep moving.

No matter what, keep moving.

The game also features a decent variety of guns. The player can switch between weapons on the fly, such as dual pistols, a shotgun, a grenade launcher and more. Each gun is useful in unique situations and all of them are essential to get through each level.

In terms of Rollerdrome’s gameplay, there is only one thing that is really missing. Unfortunately, it is a pretty huge element. Although this game would have been absolutely ripe to have a multiplayer element included, there is no such element present in the game. Keeping the game solely single-player seems like a massive, baffling miss on the developer’s part.

Whilst I couldn’t have participated in the multiplayer whilst playing Rollerdrome for review, as I was playing through it before release, I was looking forward to getting online with a few friends after the game launched to play through a few of these environments together. Learning that no such feature is planned for the game left me feeling pretty gutted.

Including some form of a multiplayer element seems like a no-brainer for a title like this. The absence of this feature is pretty significant and will not go unnoticed when the game launches either.

Audio and Graphics: A Feast For The Eyes

Despite the fact that I have already highlighted the stunning visuals and gorgeous design aesthetic on display in Rollerdrome, it is hard to overstate just how great this game looks. The bold use of colour and character design mesh to create something which calls to mind an amalgamation of Saturday morning cartoons and the most dynamic Pop Art pieces ever created.

Any screenshot taken during gameplay would make for an awesome poster.

Any screenshot taken during gameplay would make for an awesome poster.

Something else to appreciate in terms of the game’s design are the environments which make up the various locations for each level to take place. Whether that consists of cold environments, warmer locales, indoor stadiums or outside locations, there is plenty of variety across the game’s maps.

The visuals present in the game, along with the fast-paced energy, which underpinned almost every moment of Rollerdrome whilst playing it for review, reminded me somewhat of Rocket League. Whilst Rollerdrome may be more bloodthirsty than Rocket League, it has an undeniably similar vibe to it. This is just another reason that the absence of an online co-op mode seems odd.

Also in a similar vein to Rocket League, Rollerdrome contains a pounding electronic soundtrack accompanying its visuals. The music along with the well-implemented sound effects help players consistently feel the intended adrenaline rush present throughout the moment-to-moment gameplay.

This game was reviewed on PC, with a review key provided by Tara Bruno PR.

Summary
Rollerdrome is a ton of fun and is undoubtably worth the asking price at launch. To see Roll7 go from developing the more simplistic OlliOlli games to producing something on this level is amazing. The engaging mechanics and stunning visuals come together to create something truly special. It is just a real shame that there is no multiplayer functionality currently present in the game.
Good
  • Fun gameplay
  • Gorgeous visuals
  • Great energy
Bad
  • No multiplayer.
8
Great
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