From the preview to finally completing Rollerdrome, I was enthralled by the bloodsport game I was not expecting to love as much as I did. There were not any major or minor downs—plenty of ups and sick tricks and grabs in the air. For those who have not seen our preview of Rollerdrome, check it out first to get a more detailed background on the game. The developers of the OlliOlli games, Roll7, were essentially able to create OlliOlli World mixed with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and SSX on steroids with lots of slow-mo shooting fun.
Simply put, the world of Rollerdrome has been set in a dystopian world where a corporate conglomerate called “Matterhorn”, who runs the roller derby shooting sport known as Rollerdrome. The player (me) was playing as Kara Hassan, who has admired Rollerdrome and its previous champions. Kara hopes to become a champion herself and the player, as Kara, learns more about Matterhorn and the state of the world as they continue to progress throughout the game and complete each stage.
The first four levels really introduced the simple mechanics and weapons—along with providing various maps and different enemies and tasks to keep me busy. The second stage or Semi-Finals levels was where I found myself really pushed to the brink. I had to get crafty and time my tricks to reload, use the right weapons on the correct enemies to dish out the most damage and think about the multipliers that could help me build up my score. The palette of different level designs was a beautiful mix—from a roller derby stadium to an outdoor rink in the snowy mountains.
Thinking outside the box became more and more relevant from the group stages up until I made it to the Championship Finals. The Championship Finals was pure chaos and seemed like it was impossible for the gamers who encouraged themselves to play without the various assists provided in Rollerdrome.
“I saw the similarity of Rollerdrome and puzzle games in the sense where the core mechanics were the same throughout the game…”
While some would say using assists and playing on a harder difficulty would make a gamer lose street cred, I thought about how I would be able to beat the game within a certain time parameter. Once I got to the tail-end of the Semi-Finals, I really felt the difficulty ratcheted up a thousand. In the Assists Menu, players could turn on Invincibility or Infinite Ammo if they just wanted to focus their efforts on the Campaign and less on completing the Challenges.
In a certain sense, the game’s difficulty increased similarly to the Portal games or other puzzle games like the Little Nightmares games. I saw the similarity of Rollerdrome and puzzle games in the sense where the core mechanics were the same throughout the game, but it was how the player had to adapt using the core mechanics which was the biggest learning curve. Every gamer learns at a different pace and every gamer focuses on different things, whether it would be the story, the action or the tricky strategies.
The comic-y graphics were stunning and the movements of a fast-paced shooter like Rollerdrome could be very disorienting. However, the Roll7 team somehow made each motion feel effortless and smooth. I thought adding “Reflex Time” was a very significant game mechanic to slow down the pace of the game in such a fast-paced environment where everyone is trying to kill Kara. This was like a Matrix reference mixed with John Wick action—all the Keanu Reeves gunplay one could ask for.
“From the banger 80s synthwave music to the nostalgic colours, Rollerdrome excelled on every level.”
Rollerdrome’s “Out For Blood” mode added even more chaos into the mix. While I was breezing through with all the assists on for the latter quarter or half of the game, the Out For Blood mode was a beast of its own when I took the assists off. I had all the guns I unlocked from the Campaign, but the enemies were abundantly a mixed pot of all the various enemies I faced from different stages and levels. This was a mode created for those who needed even more of a challenge, and it would be a platform for players to showcase their high scores.
The Out For Blood mode was fascinating as it enabled Rollerdrome to be competitive on a global scale. It became a concept of, “what would it be like if you took that one arcade game from the 80s and could pit your high score against someone across the world playing the same arcade game’.
From the banger 80s synthwave music to the nostalgic colours, Rollerdrome excelled on every level. The plenitude of various game levels, the blend of simplicity and complexity and the focus on the fun aspect for all gamers from all accessibility backgrounds was sublime.
I thought the extra attention to details shone bright and clear that the developers pushed to make Rollerdrome exciting for everyone and taking full advantage of the technology it did—especially with the haptic feedback built into the PlayStation controllers. Despite the ESRB rating being on the mature side, this could be a classic game for everyone. It is a perfect game to pickup and put down easily and has the capability to be replayable for its satisfying chain of combos and moves players could show off to their friends.