OlliOlli World: Void Riders Review - Extra Dimensions

  • First Released Feb 8, 2022
  • PC

Void Riders is mostly more OlliOlli World, and while its new challenges won't blow you away, more of a good thing is a good thing.

OlliOlli World is a delightful skateboarding game, an excellent culmination of what developer Roll7 established across two previous games of its super-fast, trick-infused side-scrolling platforming series. With its first DLC expansion, Void Riders, Roll7 provides what is mostly more of the same--more cleverly built tracks, more high-level challenges, and more goofy characters. Void Riders offers a few new elements to the overall formula, but it doesn't break the OlliOlli World mold. While it would have been exciting to see how Roll7 could push its own envelope, Void Riders provides more OlliOlli World to play through and master, and that's great, too.

The base OlliOlli World has players traveling the world of Radlandia, skating through cities, forests, industrial sites, and theme parks, hoping to reach a state of skateboard zen that will allow them to become a "skate wizard." Void Riders is something of a side story to that endeavor, dropped into the middle of the game and having little to do with the main characters. It builds on the desert portion of the game, Burntrock, where aliens seem to be hanging out in the background, abducting cows and teasing conspiracy theorists. In Void Riders, you meet the aliens and help them abduct the cows, along with a couple of other cryptids hiding out in Radlandia's biomes.

As with the full game, Void Riders' story isn't too dense a tale, but it does provide a cute bookend to your skating levels as you talk to an alien trio working for a spooky purple boss blob named Nebulord. You follow those aliens around the world, listening to them give their interpretations about humanity--all of which are gleaned from listening to podcasts from conspiracy theorist Mike, one of OlliOlli World's main characters--and impressing them as you skate different courses. The DLC takes you through new areas of three of OlliOlli World's biomes as the aliens try to capture native Earth life to take back to space with them, and you eventually accompany them to "the Void" to show off your skills to Nebulord as you skate some extraterrestrial locations.

In all, the expansion offers 18 new courses to play through, which is comparable in size to one of the five biomes in the base game. Though most of the courses take place in those Radlandia biomes, rather than the new space-based location of The Void, they all explore new locations that offer different approaches to levels. Courses set in the forests of Cloverbrook, for instance, take place on a snowy mountaintop with frozen lakes to leap over, while some of Burntrock's levels wind through ghost towns and abandoned Old West mines. The DLC also provides a bunch of new cosmetic items to earn as you play through its levels, giving you some space-themed gear with which to deck out your skater.

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Void Riders adds a new element to these courses: the alien tractor beam. Scattered around the DLC's levels are alien ships that fire a beam downward, sucking objects up into the air. Practically, this means that items like grind rails or platforms can be levitated in the air and will often rise into focus just as you're nearing them, which gives the sense of tracks changing underneath you just as you skate through them. It also means you have to pay close attention to timing jumps and tricks to make sure you get the right amount of height or hit a perfect landing. Not knowing exactly what you're going to hit and when adds a different kind of challenge to OlliOlli World's levels, although it's not a drastic change, since past courses occasionally had collapsing terrain or changing elements that forced you to make adjustments on the fly.

You can also interact with some tractor beams, using them to briefly levitate your skater to gain extra height on jumps or clear gaps you wouldn't otherwise be able to cross. You do that by executing a "grab" trick while traveling through the beam, which is easily done by just pushing any direction on the right thumbstick when playing on a controller. The grab element means you have control over how the tractor beams affect you, and in some cases, you'll want to fall through a beam rather than get zapped upward by it in order to find a hidden track or avoid a hazard. The tractor beams add a fun wrinkle to the ubiquitous jumps throughout the game, forcing you to think a little more vertically than you had to in the rest of OlliOlli World.

The one drawback of the tractor beams, at least in my experience, is that they can mess with your flow as you rocket through a Void Riders level. Grabs are one of the elements in OlliOlli World that help you maximize your points, but unlike the other tricks in the game, they actually come with a major drawback. Grab moves are added to other jump tricks--essentially, you go off a ramp and hit a jump, then activate your grab while you're in the air. Execute a grab too early, though, and it kills your jump momentum, which can keep you from hitting the full height of a jump and thus make you fall a little short when trying to clear gaps.

The thing about tractor beams is that you need to use grabs to activate them, so seeing one coming as you barrel through a course has the unintended psychological effect of causing you to activate a grab too early in anticipation of needing the in-air boost. A whole bunch of levels that are ostensibly all about grabs, therefore, created a lot of moments when I would blow a jump by accidentally killing my momentum while trying to activate a finicky tractor beam. Rather than helping get into a flow state as I navigated levels, I had to remind myself when tough tractor beam jumps were coming up so that I could be sure to activate grabs very deliberately and avoid slamming into a mountainside or an alien tree.

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OlliOlli World is a game that encourages you to run a level over and over (and over) to get a perfect run, so restarts are quick and easy. But since the DLC tracks make liberal use of this one element, it could sometimes feel a bit antithetical to the rest of the game. Of course, mastering different components of OlliOlli levels is part of the challenge, but tractor beams felt like they sometimes presented a learning curve that was just a little out of step with the rest of the game's somewhat more forgiving, zen-like feel.

That said, the OlliOlli games are known to be difficult, and while OlliOlli World is overall more approachable than its predecessors, it can still be tough as nails--and so can Void Riders, in a rewarding, push-yourself-to-get-better way. The DLC adds a bunch of new challenges and tracks, and barring a few annoying tractor beam moments, all those things are a blast to play through.

OlliOlli World is the kind of game that gets into your head and causes you to push yourself for just one more run or to seek a slightly higher score, and Void Riders continue to scratch that same undeniable itch. Roll7's skating game is full of clever, expertly constructed courses and fun, goofy characters, and Void Riders doesn't skimp on either. It might not bring a huge amount of new things to the game, but just having more great tracks to skate and explore is a worthy addition in its own right.

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The Good

  • More excellent OlliOlli World levels to play through
  • Alien characters are a fun addition to the story, with solid, goofy writing
  • New levels in Radlandia biomes give a fresh look at those locations
  • Tractor beams and floating elements create fun new challenges to skate

The Bad

  • Finicky grabs can make tractor beam jumps feel unforgiving and break flow
  • Nice to have more levels, but doesn't feel too terribly different from the base game

About the Author

That sound you're hearing in the distance is Phil Hornshaw trying to beat all of Nebulord's challenges and screaming in frustration. Review code was provided by the publisher.