Rollerdrome is brimming with perfectly executed ideas, proving that you don't need photorealistic visuals, large open worlds and motion capture to make a GOTY contender.
What you need to know
- What is it? A shooter-skater with that blends combat with fluid movement and tricking mechanics.
- Reviewed on: PC - Ryzen 5 3600, Radeon RX 6800, 16 GB RAM
- Developer: Roll7
- Publisher: Private Division
- Release date: August 16, 2022
- Available on: PC, PS4, PS5
As soon as I completed the tutorial in Rollerdrome and kicked off the first proper competitive level I knew that this one is going to be a gem. Yes, yes, I know most of us get that exciting, new game feeling all the time but it was different with Rollerdrome.
Rollerdrome is developed by Roll7, a team best known for the critically acclaimed OlliOlli series, who are really getting out of their comfort zone with this action-packed shooter, so let's break down their latest title to the bone and find out what makes it so special.
BREAD AND CIRCUSES
Rollerdrome is set in 2030 where corporations rule the world and have found a way to keep the public distracted with a brutal new bloodsport named Rollerdrome. You play as Kara Hassan, a rookie female athlete aiming to become the next big thing in this adrenaline-pumping carnage that they call sport.
Rolledrome features two campaigns with the second one named Out For Blood unlocking once you beat the first campaign. Kara returns to the championship next year in Out For Blood, where the difficulty really ramps up, introducing the toughest enemies right from the get-go.
The story is really light and short featuring only eleven levels that you can beat in five minutes but to be completely honest, once I got into the groove with the combat, tricks and general gameplay loop I didn't care much about Rollerdrome's story and Kara anyway.
Rollerdrome is a perfect playground and I feel that a larger focus on the story and the world would only take away from the incredible gameplay, which is the true star.
The game will still feed you with smaller tidbits of the story, through newspapers on desks, emails and the official speaker, who also reveals interesting story details from time to time but you'll probably head towards the arena as soon as the loading screen ends.
Rollerdrome is a single-player third-person roller shooter where your main goal is to eliminate all enemies in the arena to progress to the next level.
To become victorious, you'll have various weapons at your disposal like a handgun, shotgun and grenade launcher. You battle against various enemy types ranging from melee, sniper, laser shooting fella that can teleport, big armoured guys with shields, robot bosses and more.
Rollerdrome doesn't have a wide variety of enemies which some may find disappointing but I feel like the variations that are currently in the game are more than enough since all of them are balanced to perfection and adding more types just for the sake of it could ruin the flow of the combat.
The gameplay loop is fairly simple - Shoot enemies to replenish your health and pull off tricks to refill your ammo. I found this pattern to be incredibly fun, fair and rewarding. I don't remember ever playing a game that gave me such freedom and never once pulled off some nonsense mechanic to keep me from playing the way I want to play.
Once you enter the arena, you can approach it in any way you want. Kill stronger enemies first, focus on completing objectives or simply have fun skating around, wall riding while taking out enemies. While you do any of that, make sure to collect combo badges floating around the arena since these give you a nice combo multiplier and make one challenge less of a worry.
And I really have to mention how smooth the skating mechanics feel. Roll7 didn't try to be smart and come up with something new and complex here, instead, they made it simple to navigate the arena and pull off tricks.
You don't need to constantly push the thumb forward to make Kara skate forward. One push is all it takes and Kara will roll around until you decide to slow down. This way, you only need to worry about dodging the incoming fire and be as effective as possible in getting those kills while performing tricks as Kara keeps moving around the arena.
I absolutely love this design and not having to worry about Kara's movement all the time makes the game a lot more fun and free-flowing. Though, I have to admit that I didn't feel this way right from the get-go as the controls take some time to digest but soon all mechanics start to gel together you'll suddenly feel more confident in your ability.
As already mentioned, Rollerdrome features eleven missions with each one having a set of challenges/objectives that you need to complete to progress further in the championship.
Things kick off in the pretty basic Matterhorn Arena but you'll soon be visiting canyons, snowy summits, big malls and more as arenas get increasingly harder to complete thanks to tougher enemies and complex design.
I found Rollerdrome arenas to be perfect in size, especially later on as you reach quarter-finals but I did catch myself wanting a larger playground, potentially with co-op or multiplayer. Now that would be something.
At the moment, Rollerdrome is strictly a single-player game but fingers crossed that Roll7 have a big multiplayer plan somewhere on their desks.
I would say that the biggest drawback for me was the lack of content given that Rollerdrome doesn't have a lot of levels and once you're done with the challenges and campaigns, the only thing left is to compete on Leaderboards and not everyone is a fan of that.
But I feel that the current content in the game is a nice foundation for what's to come next, hopefully in the post-launch updates.
Simply put, Rollerdrome's distinctive art style looks amazing. It fits great with the game's retrofuture universe but more importantly, it's a clean presentation without any unnecessary, in-your-face visual effects that make your eyes sore.
At times, Rollerdrome rolled out breathtaking scenes that looked like something out of Kubrick's Space Odyssey or Jean Giraud aka Moebius' portfolio, proving once again that distinctive art direction is more important than raw graphical fidelity, nine times out of ten.
As for the performance, Rollerdrome worked great on my PC. I did not experience a single crash or bug during my playthrough. The game does not feature extensive graphics settings, though, offering only two graphics presets - Low and High.
Additionally, you can increase the field of view, turn V-Sync on and off, change the resolution and that's about it. It does not feature ray-tracing but to be fair, it does not need such a tech anyway due to its art style.
There's no Nvidia DLSS or AMD FSR but as I already said, the game runs great even without these resolution upscaling technologies.
Rollerdrome is an incredible game that deserves every bit of praise it can get. I recommend it for its free-flowing gameplay and distinctive visuals and plan to return on a daily basis to take on some of the harder challenges that I wasn't able to complete just yet.
On the other hand, the story is almost non-existent and some will be disappointed with the lack of content on launch but I think you'll have way too much fun in this one before you start thinking about other maps and game modes.
Rollerdrome launches on PC via Steam, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 today, August 16.
We want to thank Bastion for providing us with a review copy of Rollerdrome.