Rollerdrome is one of the most overlooked games of 2022
More people should play this excellent retro-futuristic shooter
2022 has been a pretty strong year for video games so far, as the industry starts to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both AAA and indie developers have released critically acclaimed and commercially successful titles, from the behemoth that is Elden Ring to the extremely addictive Cult of the Lamb. Released in August, one refreshingly unique title came and went with only a brief amount of buzz before getting quickly forgotten about. That game is Rollerdrome, a title that will surely go down as one of the most overlooked games of 2022 as we edge closer to the end of the year. Here’s why.
Some bold decisions
Many popular games in the current landscape feel incredibly safe, choosing to mold themselves into tried and tested archetypes and trends instead of daring to be different. Rollerdrome makes some bold choices aside from its striking visual style, blending together the fluidity, tricks, and challenges found in the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series with some tight third-person shooting. It is a combination that provides a huge hit of frantic, challenging gameplay with just the right amount of familiarity and nostalgia.
These two elements are blended together smartly, with ammo replenishment tied to the successful execution of tricks. At the same time, the fast-paced gunplay lends itself well to various challenges inspired by the skateboarding series. Collecting the combo tokens is a direct nod to collecting the letters making up the word ‘SKATE’ in the Tony Hawk series, for example. Other challenges, such as killing an enemy while performing a specific trick, or completing a level while maintaining a combo chain throughout, provide ample reasons to replay levels. Completing them adds an element of difficulty that is entirely optional.
Even if you choose to ignore this optional level of difficulty and simply focus on clearing levels, the experience is challenging and extremely engaging. Triggering the slow-motion mechanic to pull off previously tricky headshots offers an immediate sense of satisfaction. At the same time, the onslaught of enemy fire means you’ll need to concentrate on dodging bullets as well as landing tricks.
Many reasons to keep playing
Rollerdrome also comes with a strong sense of replayability, a key strength of the title. Building a combo through killing enemies in quick succession comes with its own incentive aside from the challenges, with high combos giving much larger scores on the global leaderboard. The speed at which levels can be completed and a clear breakdown of how points are allocated makes replaying levels to improve your score a joy to attempt. The game also contains an excellent new game plus mode, Out For Blood. The mode is tied to story too, which adds an unexpected level of immersion above what is usually expected from a new game plus. In this mode, the player retains all weapons and faces a much tougher series of levels than in the base game. The story has progressed one year, with protagonist Kara Hassan gaining a huge reputation (and a new outfit) following the events of the main game. Enemies are more frequent and more lethal, and the mode also comes with its own unique list of challenges, adding yet more difficulty overall. Again, this is completely optional, allowing you to tailor the difficulty of the experience by choosing which elements to engage with and which to ignore.
The new game plus mode offers not only a strong reason to carry on playing the game after the credits have rolled, but it also demonstrates how the retro-futuristic setting and story of the game could easily warrant a sequel. The premise of Rollerdrome is centered around a brutal competition and blood sport, with Hassan rising through the ranks as the player clears each level of enemies. Before some key levels, the game switches to a first-person view, allowing you to explore lore-filled areas such as the locker room freely. Finding clues that flesh out a world full of political strife outside of the competition is particularly interesting. It represents huge potential going forward, as does finding small details about other participants, making a sequel with a different protagonist a possibility if developer Roll7 so chooses.
The visuals of Rollerdrome are superb, especially on PS5, and a key reason for it standing apart from some of the big releases of the year. The comic book inspired art style is crisp and a treat to look at, with an engaging color palette that manages to avoid being distracting as you get to grips with the frantic combat. The art style also perfectly complements the weapons in the game, with the grenade launcher producing large, satisfying explosions, while firing the crossbow results in a striking blue bolt of energy, a color that stands out amongst the often used red and yellow hues. Visually, Rollerdrome is very different from many releases in 2022, and it once again speaks to the bold decisions made when crafting such a unique package.
One of 2022's gems
In a gaming landscape filled with experiences you’ve probably played before, Rollerdrome offers a refreshingly unique experience. While fans of games such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Jet Set Radio will surely experience some nostalgia, the finished product stands on its own and gives players something different to enjoy. Gameplay is fast and chaotic, with the well-implemented trick system and shooting mechanics resulting in highly addictive gameplay. Leaderboards and a robust new game plus mode give players a great reason to constantly jump back in and improve their scores and skills, making Rollerdrome a title that players can dip back into over a long period. The story and fleshed-out world are perhaps the biggest surprise here, with Roll7 likely to bring those details into the forefront of a future sequel. The most obvious reason to recommend the game on face value is the gorgeous visual style, a huge factor in the title being as engaging an experience as it is. Ultimately, Rollerdrome is among the best games on PS5 this year, and more players should dive in and attempt to shoot and flip their way to the top of the competition.
With frantic combat, a satisfying trick system and infinitely replay-able levels, Rollerdrome is a fantastic overall package that should definitely not be skipped.
Buy From: PlayStation
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Matt has been gaming since he was young, and enjoys exploring obscure indie games in between the latest AAA releases. The train sequence from Uncharted 2 still blows his mind. Find him on twitter @mshore94.