Friday August 5, 2022

Developed By Roll7
Available On PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC (Steam)
Release Date August 16, 2022

In the year 2030, a corporation oversees Rollerdrome, a popular bloodsport watched by the masses and televised around the world. But while the public is transfixed by what’s going on in the arena, an evil plot lurks in the shadows. It’s a game of life or death, kill or be killed. I tilt the analog stick up and begin to skate around an arena containing wooden ramps whose 2D aesthetics and lines give them a smooth comic-book-looking texture. I try to get my bearings, which isn’t so easy considering all the guards and snipers taking aim at me to try to send me to a deadly form of early retirement. 

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Little do they know that I have the power of tricks and bullet-time on my side. The enemies in Rollerdrome use a variety of different weapons and attacks – one challenge centers around the timing of dodging a certain type of attack, and others include collecting all of the combo tokens and beating multiple course point records. Not only must you kill all of the enemies in each arena to advance to the next stage, but if you find yourself low on health, killing them causes health items to be dropped.

There are many ramps and areas you can perform tricks on, and by performing tricks like grinds and aerial maneuvers, you refill your ammo and use the game’s bullet-time mechanic – called reflex time – to slow down time and take out enemies with extreme style. Some weapons also have a  secondary feature certain. In one instance I had a shotgun and was down to my final enemy, who was perched a good distance away from me. I charged him on my skates, zig-zagging to stay out of their line of fire. Just as I got into range, they pulled the trigger, and I performed a perfect dodge beneath the bullets, entered reflex time, and used my shotgun’s fatal slug shot to get my final kill. It was just one of many moments of extremely stylized and satisfying ultra-violence I experienced in my time with Rollerdrome.

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A sniper takes aim at Kara during a competitionA sniper takes aim at Kara during a competition

It’s like competing in a deadlier and more violent X Games. The challenges in the game differ with each arena. You’re on a tour of death and survival competing in arenas located in varied places like a desert, myriad indoor venues, and a snow-covered wonderland of excitement and blood splatter.

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Another thing worth mentioning is the 70s-inspired synth-fueled soundtrack, which put me in a higher state of deadly focus and added a dose of attitude I haven’t felt since first hearing  Daft Punk’s song Derezzed play during a fight scene in Tron: Legacy. I did not want to stop playing the demo, and its music made me want to hear what future tracks and arenas had in store for me as I made my way through each one.

When you die, the round concludes and you have to restart – no convenient quicksaves or in-level checkpoints here.. Using bullet time and trying to eliminate a single enemy in one shot is doable, but not always an option. Instead, you can take that extra time in the arena to skate around and visualize routes in your head. There is no order in how to dispose of the soldiers – how you finish them is solely up to you.

Having played the demo, I will say the excitement is still there and it will be interesting to see the public’s response when the game is released on August 16.

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