Review: Session: Skate Sim – Movies Games and Tech
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A love letter
Most people have tried their luck on a skateboard at least once. Maybe like me, they landed their first ollie and felt that sense of pride. Regardless of how simple a move it could have been. Then they took it a step further and had their first knockdown, scraped a knee and decided, “Well, that was fun. Leave it there.
Or maybe after that spill they got up and tried again. Either immediately or until they heal from a scraped knee and a little knock on their confidence. Maybe every fall was a lesson, or just part of the thrill. The risk and the reward. Freedom of expression, and excitement. Maybe they fell in love with the community and the culture of skating. Session: Skate Sim really evokes the sentiment of the latter. A love for skating, and a translation of this love in this title. Maybe it wasn’t a perfect product. But it’s a damn good one. The beauty of it all is that you can fail, bail out, and start all over again, without needing a first aid kit.
Watch your foot
Something that really put Session apart from other titles, there was the balance between simulation and casual fun. On the one hand, it is a game with extremely responsive, intuitive and somewhat complex controls. But on the other hand, there is no scoring for tricks. There is also no pressure to excel or excel. You simply skate and try to pull off a series of tricks and grinds while maneuvering through an open world. That being said, it’s not as simple as pushing and being the next prodigy. You should be ready to land on your ass. Sometimes more than you land on your board.
Skate’s control scheme is a mix between complex and simple without leaning too hard in either direction. Each stick essentially controls one foot. Push the left stick up to focus on the nose of the board. Push down on the right, and the back becomes the focal point. When you hold one end down, you then move the opposite analog stick to land a trick. You can also switch ends at any time by double tapping a trigger to reflect this control scheme. This forms the basis of movement and controls. Just like real skating, the end of the board you transfer weight to decides whether it will be an ollie or a nollie.
Now, thankfully, it’s not a grueling simulation where pushing too far towards the nose of the board causes you to fall. It keeps things simple by using these commands to determine what tricks you’ll do and what kind of manuals or grinds you’re going for. There are an abundance of moves to try and the satisfaction that comes from performing a high rope is absolutely heavenly. Mixing things up as you maneuver around the city never loses its appeal.
prepare to fall
However, these strings are where things get a bit trickier. You will fall. A lot. Especially at the start. I will go to the grave without ever revealing how long it took me to land a spin in a grind and safely dismantle my first grind mission. This is where the simulation aspect of Session comes into play. Much like IRL skating, performing these moves and landing safely isn’t as easy as it could have been in EA. skate series. You’re going to have to take a few good L’s before you go about it. Getting the timing and speed right, and picking the right trick to get to the edge won’t be easy at first. Especially if you are not an avid skate simulation gamer. Sure, you’ll fall, but with practice it will click into place and the physics of the world will start to make sense.
What really surprised me was how addictive this loop was. I fell time and time again, but I kept trying. Now, a big part of that is that it wasn’t me who got hurt. However, I wasn’t as frustrated as I thought. This is because the simulation has never been unfair. I knew that the mistakes I had made were my fault and that I could land them. And I did. Man, was it satisfying. Plus, I never got tired of the many ways my poor avatar was wiped out. Classic slapstick comedy.
Another thing that helped me stay was the scoring mechanism. At any time, you can mark your current location. And at any time, you can teleport to that position. It was more than useful for retrying jumps, because I’m sure without it I would have stopped the rage. I can’t imagine dragging my ass up some stairs over and over again, knowing there’s a good chance I’ll fall again. That’s probably why I’ve never skated more than a handful of times in my life.
Go skating for $$$
As with any skate game worth its salt, Session has a large number of customization options. From your personal drip to the trucks on your board, everything is available to be customized. For my part, I greatly appreciate it in this kind of games. And Session book. All you need to access it is to do some of the missions in the city.
This is where you will spend a good part of your time, when you are not skating freely. As they unlock new customization items, but more importantly, they earn you money. Which, of course, you will need to get some materials.
These missions are entrusted to you by your fellow skaters. They will make you perform tricks and jumps, which not only presents a little challenge for you, but also serves to help you learn new moves. Missions also give you insight into your avatar, as mission givers recount days gone by and shoot the breeze, all while employing a healthy dose of skater lingo.
About the skaters, something that bothered me Session, that was how empty the world was. No moving cars and no people other than the mission givers. It was a bit strange. I mean sure, in terms of gameplay, you can’t have traffic getting in the way of your enjoyment. But give us at least a few NPC skaters or pedestrians, even a few. It would have made the world less like you were outside during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns.
While you’re knocking your ass off, there’s some great music to listen to. A selection of lo-fi beats form a nice laid-back backdrop for an otherwise painful display of gravity’s power over us. I really enjoyed the soundtrack and it continued to make for a great time.
Session: Skate Sim is a game that any skating fan will love and any curious gamer should try. Once you accept the inevitability of failure, it becomes a prime example of the satisfaction that comes from perseverance.