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  • Not Your Average Skating Game: ‘You’re a Demon Made of Glass and Pain’ | Games

Not Your Average Skating Game: ‘You’re a Demon Made of Glass and Pain’ | Games

By on August 9, 2022 0

Skate Story’s elevator pitch is the kind of enticing soundbite that instantly pricks up your ears: it’s a “vaporwave skateboarding game,” says 28-year-old developer Sam Eng.

Surprisingly, the trailer released last month during games publisher Devolver Digital’s June showcase suggests that the game, which is slated for release in 2023, could be even better than the land. A shimmering glass figure grows on a board, the camera following them from a low angle as it would in a skate movie. The rumble of wheels on concrete is authentically loud, the accompanying beats are delightfully cold, and towering purple buildings refract trippy in the background.

Despite the glitch-art aesthetic and hellish premise – it has you skating through nine layers of the underworld as a glass demon – Skate Story seems grounded in a way that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, with its superhero combos and outlandish airtime, ever did. You’re more likely to do a simple kickflip than a 900. “I wanted to do something that feels real,” says Eng. “Something really relevant to me and the kid who just got to know a skateboard. Every time I say ‘skate game’ a specific image pops up in people’s heads. This skateboard game isn’t not just a story of tricks.

Like so many kids of Eng’s generation, his interest in skateboarding was piqued by Tony Hawk’s franchise in the late 90s and early 2000s. After playing a demo of the first game at the At the age of six, he begged his mother to buy him a $5 board at a discount store. “I tried skateboarding for at least a few minutes before I fell and just gave up,” he laughs. He tried again a few years later, with barely better results. “I’m so frustrated with it,” he says. “The idea of ​​skateboarding in my head was this crazy Tony Hawk flying and halfpipe stuff.” It wasn’t until he was living alone in Manhattan in his early twenties that he took up boarding again, mostly to get around his neighborhood.

If the history of skateboarding is something like how Eng describes his own skateboarding experiences, then it’s going to be a stripped-down, mood-focused game. “What I love about skateboarding is that it’s just me, the board and the terrain,” he says. “No one can do this kickflip for me.”

Eng is a nerd when it comes to skateboard media. He can’t help but rave about the “timbre” of old skate videos, the way “audio compression impacts the sound of the board”. That said, there’s often a melancholic quality to the portrayal of skateboarding in a larger culture – the documentary Minding the Gap, for example. For the group of young friends who star in this film, skateboarding is a way to escape the heaviness of everyday life. There are tantalizing hints that Skate Story could be exploring comparable territory; Eng talks about the player becoming “friends of failure”.

No matter how far these heavier themes are taken, Skate Story is a visually inventive take on skateboarding, born out of Eng’s genuine, long-term love for the sport. “Skateboarding really speaks to me,” he says. “It demands things of me that make me better as a person.”