My roller skates spring to life, spinning loudly on concrete before drowning in the murderous symphony of shotgun blasts and rocket blasts. I spin to dodge a hail of bullets, lock my skates to a rail, then leap through the air, my cannons blazing as I perform a flashy trick to get the crowd on their feet. I hope this run creates a kill combo big enough to get a high score and unlock the next tier where more powerful weapons and enemies await you. This is Rollerdrome, a skating shooter that combines Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater’s trick system with Doom 2016’s Kill Chains to create a thrilling dystopian experience that will make you feel like a god on wheels.
Roll7, the team behind the OlliOlli series, is enmeshed in every aspect of this game, offering enticing freedom of skating, challenges that require dedication, comic visuals that pop off the screen, and an intriguing sci-fi vision that… 1970s cinema was taken directly from the game. Rollerdrome is a love letter to James Caan’s classic film rollerball
The concept of the gameplay is simple: skate or die. If you stop moving, a sniper will pick you up or a mech will blow you into the kingdom. You travel the globe to different arenas, each designed like a skate park with a sea of ramps and rails to help you gain speed and height. They use these playgrounds to collect perk points to attack militant groups hired by megacorporations. They are disposable and serve to highlight the skills of the participants. You take on the role of a rookie named Kara Hassan, who you never really get to see as her back is always to you and she wears a helmet, but her skills are undeniable and, more importantly, she’s great fun to play with to show.
As Kara invades an area, the chaos erupts to thunderous applause and doesn’t let up until the last body falls to the ground. Her movements are fast and fluid, and the most important actions are easy to perform, such as B. launching from a half pipe or spinning through the air while simultaneously firing a machine gun. Roll7 has done a phenomenal job with the controls, making them so intuitive that they quickly become muscle memory, requiring little more than a single button press. The ti me windows for certain moves are also fantastic, making dodging sniper fire not just a breeze, but an integral part of the combo system. If you can pull off a perfect dodge, your total score goes up.
For the first few levels, I ran with the sole intention of winning and moving on to the next level. But the game’s progression system requires more than that. To reach the second level, Kara must first complete a certain number of mini-goals. These tasks range from getting high scores to taking down certain types of enemies in certain ways. These objectives are pro skater-like, but introduce some frustration if you don’t want to try your hand at the same fights multiple times.
I felt a little frustrated in the later levels, but loved how the challenges had me finding and performing huge combo strings to get higher scores. The combo meter multiplier only advances on kills, so you’ll have to figure out how to timely reach and kill enemies. These enemies spawn in the arena and your ammo reserve only fills up when you perform tricks, so you’re constantly trying to blind the crowd or trip an opponent. It’s a phenomenal mix of two different gaming disciplines. Gunplay goes well with skating, thanks to one of the most generous aiming systems you’ll see. The focus is on gaining ammo and timing shots, which is awesome considering your character’s breakneck speed and the fact that he’s often airborne.
The retro sci-fi setting suits the action, but don’t expect much from the story. You’ll hear voices in the dressing room advancing certain plot points and gaining more insight into the world through notes and newspaper clippings, but they don’t add up to much – all the excitement is in the arena.
Rollerdrome clicked with me straight away and I ate it all. As polished and fun as the experience is, it feels like Roll7 is just dipping its toes in the water. I hope this talented studio gets a chance to make a sequel to further flesh out this unique concept with more story detail and player progression. Regardless, Rollerdrome is a fantastic first foot forward. I loved the campaign gameplay and have a feeling my friends group will use this unique title for nightly ratings competitions.