Rollerdrome Preview – Stylishly Slick Shooter

Rollerdrome is the latest title from the creative minds of Roll7, the same devs that brought us one of our personal favorites of 2022, OlliOlli World.

Rollerdrome is similar in some ways, but also vastly different at the same time. The presentation and actual gameplay loop are worlds apart, but the Roll7 DNA is undeniably there, and that’s all that really matters in this case because the developers are well known for putting out incredibly fun games with slick mechanics.

Ahead of its August 16 release date, the folks over at Private Division were kind enough to let us get our filthy hands on this upcoming gem, and based on the time spent on it, I don’t think it would be a far-fetched idea to consider Rollerdrome as a sleeper hit for 2022.

Rollerdrome is a third person action shooter, and while it is described as such, the game provides an experience that’s different from what you would expect. Without even having to watch a video, you can simply think about the game as a cross between Max Payne and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, only this time you’re on roller skates.

You are Kara Hassan, a newcomer to the sport of Rollerdrome and following in the footsteps of her hero, Morgan Fray. Matterhorn, a mega-corporation that has taken over the world’s most popular sport, has shady dealings to cover up, using the sport as a front and a distraction by making it more entertaining and deadlier than it has ever been.

As Kara, you complete stages by eliminating a number of enemies (Rollerdrome House Players) across the arena, all while trying to rack up points by performing tricks. It’s a weird combination of mechanics that somehow works because Roll7 have figured out an ingenious way to keep the moment-to-moment action flowing.

There are no ammo pickups in Rollerdrome. Instead, you’ll need to perform tricks a la Tony Hawk to get you back to fighting form. You’ll grind on rails, do some grabs and flips, with each trick filling up your ammo reserves, allowing you to blast your opponents once again. This works so well because it closes the gameplay loop cleanly, putting players in a shoot-trick-shoot pattern that’s easy to understand but difficult to master.

At some point during your Rollerdrome gameplay, you’ll find yourself blending everything together – Picking up speed, shooting the enemy, wall-riding, jumping over a ramp, shooting an enemy mid-air, performing a tick to reload… The list goes on. It may get a little overwhelming for newcomers, but the payoff is quite stylish and rewarding.

To keep the pace nice and tight, eliminating opponents builds up your score multiplier, inching you ever closer to the top of the leaderboards but also providing an incentive to keep the action going because the multiplier eventually expires. If you’ve played OlliOlli World, you know that the leaderboards can get quite competitive, and it’s pretty much the same thing here in Rollerdrome.

Rollerdrome also adds a familiar feature to strengthen the Max Payne reference. Not only can your character perform fancy aerial attacks, but you can also trigger Reflex Time, something similar to bullet time where everything slows down to a crawl, allowing you to take out multiple opponents, plan your next move, or even just to take a breather from the action.

The magic in Rollerdrome exists because it is held together by a couple of things that Roll7 are quite known for – fantastic level design and flawless controls. Playing on a mouse+keyboard setup isn’t quite the optimal way to go as opposed to a controller, which is a really great way to experience the game. Navigating Kara through ramps and rails is simple, as it should be, but mastering tricks will take time and practice.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out the stunning cel-shaded comic book-style graphics that reminds us of another classic from way back, Jet Set Radio. I don’t think the game would work with photorealistic graphics, I may be wrong, but this creative choice was perfect and really shifts the focus to its uniquely fun gameplay instead.

The game may be flying under the radar of many, but Rollerdrome is shaping up to be something that’s certainly worthy of your time and attention in the coming month.

Rollerdrome will be available digitally on August 16, 2022 for the PS4, PS5, and Steam.

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