The year is 2030 and the hottest new bloodsport sweeping the airwaves is Rollerdrome, a competition where skilled combatants on rollerskates race against the clock to outlive their enemies and beat other competitors’ time. Equipped with an arsenal of deadly weapons ranging from dual pistols (wielded akimbo style) to a futuristic railgun, players will have to be quick on the draw, even faster on their wheels, and more stylish in the air performing tricks – all this to survive in the video game reviewed here: Rollerdrome, developed by the London-based game developer Roll7, and published by Private Division.
The initial draw of Rollerdrome for me was the cell shaded art style, stylish combat and fast paced gameplay. I have also been a fan of Roll7’s previous work, OlliOlli World, which came out earlier this year. Like OlliOlliWorld, Rollerdrome is definitely one of those games that’s are easy to learn, but harder to master.
The game starts you off with tutorials, to help familiarize the player with the game mechanics and controls. This was both necessary and important because each set of levels builds off skills the game has taught the player so far.
The most important aspect of Rollerdrome’s gameplay is definitely movement and traversal. With House players, the enemies in the game, trained to shoot you on sight, it’s important to always be moving, gaining speed and momentum. Performing tricks, grinding on rails, and wall riding can help maintain momentum when not on the ground. If you can do all this you’ll be able to reload your weapon. Having this as a mechanic instead of traditionally pressing a button makes the action of reloading more dynamic, innovative and fun.
Lining up shots at high speeds to take down enemies sounds difficult. Thankfully, lock on targeting is a key element when shooting in the game. When your gun is in range to shoot your opponent, lock on boxes appear in white or red when the shot can be taken to damage your opponent. Conversely, enemies will aim at you and set explosives on the ground attempting to kill you, first appearing in red and then white when locked on.
Considering this is happening at such high speeds, dodging and reflex time were mechanics added to be able to know when to avoid House enemies attacks. Reflex time allows players to slow down time to be able to correctly gauge when to dodge bullets, explosions and missiles coming your way.
At starting the default weapons are dual pistols. As you progress through each set of levels, you get new deadly weapons added to your arsenal, such as a shotgun, grenade launcher and railgun. With each gun being added to your arsenal, the number of enemies increase. As I progressed through the campaign, I noticed that some weapons were better suited against some enemy types more than others. It’s important to keep that in mind when facing off against certain enemies.
To progress through each set of levels, players have to complete a set number of challenges assigned at the beginning of each level. It’s possible to disable this feature in the options menu, however it disables the player’s ability to show up on the leaderboard. This feature of completing challenges to get to the next stage of levels incentivizes players to get better at the game’s mechanics and more skilled at the game itself. At first I did not know this feature was available and benefited from it immensely. I definitely recommend going through the campaign with challenges though.
On your first run, it’s hard to build momentum and keep a consistent fast pace, but with practice and experimenting with the controls/mechanics, it became easier. As I stated Rollerdrome is easy to learn, but hard to master. There were many times in my playthrough where I died because I didn’t dodging at the right time, or because I got stuck in one section of the arena, or because I didn’t have enough ammo to take down an opponent. But even when I lost I still felt like picking up the controller and trying the level again. The game didn’t make me feel overly frustrated when I lost. Because of how the game’s mechanics are presented and how the player is introduced to new weapons and enemy types, it allowed the game’s skill gap to become balanced in a way that gives players new strategies and tactics of how to take down different enemy types.
The three different aspects of gameplay: shooting enemies, performing tricks, and gaining and maintaining momentum all come together to form a harmonious rhythm of motion.
With around ten hours under my belt, I would definitely recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of games that focus on skill based, stylized gameplay, where you are rewarded by your skill and mastery over the game’s controls.