Rollerdrome review: A blast if you don’t think too hard about it

rollerdrome can be accurately described as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with guns. The latest from Roll7, developer of the OlliOlli series, rollerdrome is a score-based arena shooter, but on roller skates. The game tasks you with skating and smashing your way past “House Players,” enemies clad in spiked armor that would call themselves home in Mad Max. The game’s presentation, from the clean, shady art to the pumping synth soundtrack, is designed to lock you into the thrill of the titular bloodsport.

In the fiction of rollerdrome, which takes place in an alternate dimension in the year 2030, it is an extremely popular televised sport. You can see why: it’s honestly gorgeous to watch protagonist Kara Hassan get massive air on a half-pipe, grab the nose, then pull out a shotgun and knock a sniper off her perch, all in one fluid motion. In the hands of a skilled player, Hassan’s races through the game’s varied arenas feel as much like an art as a killing spree.

Image: Roll7/Private Division, Take-Two Interactive via Grayson Morley

It’s a game that feels good to play, which is important, given rollerdrome‘s more serious narrative. Shooting and skating feed off each other, mechanically: towers net you more bullets, and bullets net you fewer enemies, which helps you land more towers, which finally allows you to eliminate even more enemies. It’s frenetic, compelling, and surprisingly easy to parse, which is important because bullets fly through, forcing you to dodge at the last second. This activates rollerdromeThe bullet time version of Super Reflex, which makes even the simplest kickflip look like something out of The Matrix. From start to finish, the gameplay is as hypnotic as it is challenging. You will, no doubt, immediately retry a stage right after beating it, sure you can kickflip on a bad guy with dual guns blazing just a a little bettersince you narrowly missed rank A.

rollerdrome wants you to have an absolute blast, and it succeeds. rollerdrome also wants you to know that the “explosion” you encounter is in service of Matterhorn, a monolithic society that is becoming increasingly friendly with a fascist police state, and each run you complete helps that society hone its growing arsenal weapons, which of course they sell to the police – a fact that has not escaped public perception, leading to a violent uprising by the working class, a coalition that includes some Rollerdrome participants like you, who , it is revealed at the start of the game, enter the sport of Rollerdrome by paying a six-figure fee, accumulating a ruinous debt that the company hangs on them as both a threat and a promise that they will never be able to. , never leave the Rollerdrome.

But good luck remembering that when you’re wall-riding with a grenade launcher in your hands!

rollerdromeThe narrative parts of are sequestered from its gameplay. Every once in a while you find yourself in the locker room before the game, or on a train traveling to the next round of competition, reading obviously unguarded notes, letters and memos written by evil capitalists. What you read is very worrying, but the Game part of the game, the part where you have fun, that’s all whoosh, pow, and whatever the onomatopoeia of rail grinding. It is quite possible, in the heat of a rollerdrome run around, to forget that you are testing weapons and killing (maybe?) prisoners or another disadvantaged class of people in the game’s near-future dystopia. It’s too much fun! It’s way too much fun!

An inbox screen for Rollerdrome, showing the debt incurred by the main character for participating in the shooter on rollerblades.

Image: Roll7/Private Division, Take-Two Interactive via Grayson Morley

At first glance, it seems that both sides of rollerdrome don’t talk to each other. The seriousness of the story is out of step with the sheer adrenaline candy of its gameplay. Contrary to Registration Where papers please — other games that make you think about what you’re doing — rollerdromeThe gameplay of seems not to reinforce the critical and political narrative, but to obscure it. But the more I played, the more it made sense that entering the Rollerdrome would wipe out everything but my adrenaline and my desire to win. If Rollerdrome, the fictional sport of rollerdromewasn’t that great fun to play or watch, how could it eclipse the machinations of faceless monoliths who wish to control and bring the audience into a state of surrender? rollerdrome then must be so much fun to play that one wouldn’t want to to dissent, even if one was so inclined.

So anyway, yeah, rollerdrome is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater with a gun, but it’s also a commentary on the ability of violent entertainment to dull our senses in the face of violence in our real lives. Good luck remembering this when chasing an S rank score.

rollerdrome was released on August 16 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. The game was reviewed for PlayStation 5 using a pre-release download code provided by Deep Silver. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

Comments are closed.