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Rollerdrome

Rollerdrome: An interesting combination of style, skating and slaughter

We've gone hands-on with Roll7's upcoming action-sports game.

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Over the years, the developer Roll7 has practically become synonymous with skateboarding, largely in part due to its brilliant OlliOlli franchise. But, following the launch of the most recent installation into that very series (OlliOlli World), the team is looking to branch out into a new IP. Fans who like Roll7's approach to skating will be glad to hear that this game is in a similar vein, and even has a familiar art style. What I'm talking about is the upcoming Rollerdrome, a game that I have had the luxury of going hands-on with ahead of its August launch.

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Unlike OlliOlli, which is set in a world of inclusive skateboarding fun, Rollerdrome has a more mature and sadistic premise. This game revolves around a futuristic blood sport known as Rollerdrome, and it's here that contestants are tasked with zipping around an arena on roller skates, while simultaneously performing tricks and gunning down various assailants in a slow-motion, Matrix-like fashion. It's a very unique experience that has a good balance of entertaining fun and challenge to it.

The game is split up into various levels that reflect stages of the 2030 Rollerdrome tournament. You start with qualifying rounds and continuously progress with the aim of reaching the finals, where the prize money and the title of champion will be handed out. The catch is that the game becomes increasingly more difficult as you continue to progress, with new enemy types added that will make it ever more challenging to not only survive, but to also keep up your trick multiplier.

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And this brings me to how the gameplay works, because not only are you having to slay out hordes of foes that litter each level, by gunning them down with a selection of firearms (dual-pistols, shotgun, grenade launcher), but you also have to perform tricks. This isn't just for style - although it does help to look cool - but as a method of earning ammunition, because there are no ammo drops, you simply earn ammo by flipping, spinning, and grinding around each level. Enemies do drop health, which is crucial for staying alive, but that's it. You may think that having a trick system and a shooting system might make for rather confusing gameplay and controls, however Rollerdrome handles this very well, and offers a control scheme that is both intuitive and easy to grasp. This is because movement and aiming is largely done for you, all you have to manage is the direction you're facing and likewise jumping, tricking, and actually shooting, all of which is done by tapping buttons, flicking analog sticks, and pulling triggers when playing with a controller.

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The gameplay itself is really fun and has plenty of depth, not just due to the controls, but also because of the level design (which offers up various unique levels set in different locations) and the side-objectives that are presented. I will say being given a checklist at the start of the level isn't exactly the most gripping way to present side-objectives, but the nature of each challenge and how they ask you to play differently or do something that you probably wouldn't do normally (such as eliminate an enemy while performing a specific trick), keeps the gameplay fresh - even if they do lack a bit of difficulty and can be completed without breaking a sweat a lot of the time.

As I've mentioned the enemy variety a couple of times prior, it's worth noting exactly what I'm referring to here. The enemies range from basic baton-wielding chaps who will look to club you as you skate past, to tracking snipers who deal massive damage, to shielded, homing rocket launching heavy foes, and more. To face this collection of enemies, you will need to flick through your variety of weapons to suit the right occasion, as dual-pistols won't do a lot of good against riot shield foes, and likewise the shotgun isn't the best thing to take down a sniper (unless you can close the distance that is). In the same way that you don't really have to aim much, neither does the enemy, as they will track and home in on you, and it's your duty to dodge at the most optimal moment to avoid damage.

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While I will say that the concept of Rollerdrome is rather entertaining and exciting, the narrative so far has failed to really draw me in. This is because the game lacks a clear story, rather you get a few lines of text at the start of the game, and then the rest you have to piece together by discovering lore and information between levels. Needless to say, it doesn't do a whole lot to provide colour to the blood sport, its origins, who the main character is, and so on.

But this doesn't change the fact that the cel-shaded, comic-book inspired art style is a highlight. The art direction this game is taking makes it look incredibly pretty and also works hand-in-hand with the gameplay to make the action feel very engaging. The bassy and electro soundtrack adds to this and all combine for a thoroughly thrilling experience.

It's hard to say how exactly Rollerdrome will hold up as a full game right now, and whether or not the lacking narrative and pretty uninspired way of presenting side-objectives will work against it in the long-run, but as it stands today, from what I've seen, Roll7 is looking to serve up another incredibly fun title.

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