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Rollerdrome Review: Grab some skates (and a gun)

... and do it with style.

Rollerdrome combines rollerskating and guns, with OlliOlli World‘s Roll7 surely taking inspiration from the likes of The Running Man and Squid Game. Consider this review an extension of my earlier preview.

Roll7’s latest revolves around a televised sport that pits one rollerskate-clad fighter against hordes of enemies. While our hero, Kara Hassan, slowly builds up her arsenal, her opponents very quickly arm themselves with clubs, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and more. One trooper gets a mech. Needless to say by this point, the odds are certainly against Kara, who relies on her reflexes and pinache for not only survival, but to pad her bank account.

Rollerdrome starts off pretty simple, slowly introducing you and your character to its gameplay loop. Kara starts off with a pair of pistols in a rather traditional rollerskating arena. Initially, it’s an exercise in focus; aim and shoot at baddies, perform tricks off ramps or jumps to refill your ammo, and dodge the occasional attack. As you develop these basic skills, you’re challenged to chain actions together in fluid movements in order to increase a combo meter and, ultimately, score more points. Kara slowly gains additional weaponry like a shotgun, grenade launcher and more as arenas grow and place further obstacles in your way.

As I said in my preview, Rollerdrome is “incredibly simple to grasp, yet insanely difficult to master”. It’s one thing to shoot at a couple club-clad baddies, and another to have to deal with shielded enemies or others that spew blue plasma in your path. It’s yet another to do all that whilst wallriding, grinding or simply keeping yourself from falling down a crevasse.

Kara comes with the ability to slow time, which helps immensely, and a type of alt fire on certain weapons (like the shotgun and timed slugs) help to deal more damage. You’ll need to upskill and fast, as chained combos are needed for big scores, and specific tricks and moves are needed to complete each of a level’s challenges. Don’t get enough challenges sorted? Then you’re not moving on.

I found Rollerdrome quite tricky before realising that I wasn’t going to be able to complete each and every challenge in one go of the level. After deciding upon three of four challenges per run, things opened up quite quickly and I found myself ticking a number of boxes with far more ease and efficiency than in the past. The trade off there, I suppose, is that running each level a number of times to be able to check off a majority of challenges makes things feel quite repetitious, and fast. It wore away at the fun I was having.

Despite four main campaign sections, maps are resused quite often, and that doesn’t help with that overall feeling of sameness. Larger levels also just take a bit of work to get around, meaning your runs aren’t as short and sharp as you’d experience in the likes of an OlliOlli World level.

You will die a lot in your attempts, or you’ll remain alive but look pretty lacklustre in doing so.. and the latter means you’ll be penalised in terms of score. That all said, the unlocks you acquire throughout the campaign can all be used in previous levels, so challenges or scores that I thought were unobtainable early on became easier when I could retry with a laser gun.

If you stick with Rollerdrome and get used to its skill ceiling, there’s a lot to delight. Each main campaign section is padded with a narrative section (that’s skippable upon replay) that lets you explore to your heart’s content… as you should, as there’s a big conspiracy at the heart of it all. The third offering of levels expands further and offers up a boss battle that’s not only fun to play, but clever in the way it’s been designed.

Ultimately, your rollerdrome overlords want to you to be able to beat your opponents, but it’s always best if you do it with style. I enjoyed that level so much I purposefully went back in to play just because I could, all the while sad that experiences like it weren’t introduced earlier on.

Rollerdrome isn’t going to be for everyone. If you’ve got better reflexes than I and find things to be less of a challenge than I did, you can test your meddle against other real-world players thanks to online leaderboards in addition to an unlockable “Out for Blood” mode that amps up the difficulty (no thanks). If that excites you, then you certainly shouldn’t hesitate.

The skater-shooter heads to Windows PC via Steam, PS4 and PS5 on 17 August here in Australia.

7.5 out of 10

Rollerdrome was reviewed using a promotional code on PC, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

Rollerdrome

17 August 2022
PC PS4 PS5
 


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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for close to fifteen years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.