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Rollerdrome review: A killer skater game with tough challenges

Roller skating and third-person shooting? Together? Sign me up!

Rollerdrome
(Image: © Roll7)

Laptop Mag Verdict

Rollerdrome combines roller skating and third-person shooting for an exhilarating, challenging experience, but it might make some people rage quit.

Pros

  • +

    Stunning comic book art style

  • +

    Game mechanics feel fluid

  • +

    Unique blend of skating tricks and combat

Cons

  • -

    Steep learning curve

  • -

    Challenges are incredibly difficult

Rollerdrome seamlessly blends the fun act of roller skating with trick-taking mechanics and challenging third-person shooter combat. Each level involves a new terrain, various enemies to fend off, and challenges that range from super easy to crazy difficult. 

I died countless times in Rollerdome, but every time, I immediately hit that Replay button to give the level another go. There are games that are insanely hard for no logical reason, and then there are games that have a massive learning curve and difficult challenges, but are ultimately fun. Luckily, Rollerdrome is the latter. 

If I had the chance to pick between 10 random games and Rollerdrome was among them, it’s probably not a game I would immediately be drawn to. But with its charming comic-book art style and unique mixture of gameplay mechanics, Rollerdrome is definitely one to try. It even deserves a spot as one of our best PC games of 2022

 Is this… a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game?  

While Rollerdrome and the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game were released over 20 years apart and are visually different, they feel so similar. It’s been a while since I’ve played any of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games (although I did snag it as a free PS Plus game), but I felt an immense surge of nostalgia on the first level of Rollerdrome.

(Image credit: Roll7)

Both games have tricks, challenges, and levels, though Rollerdrome has more visually unique levels. The biggest difference? Guns. While Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater focuses on skateboarding tricks, combos, and course times to beat, Rollerdrome’s main character is on roller skates and has to kill everyone on the level in order to finish. 

I’ve been wanting to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater ever since I downloaded it for free, but just haven’t found the time; Rollerdrome definitely satisfied that video game craving. There were certainly times in Rollerdrome when I felt like I was button-mashing because I couldn’t remember which button combos formed a certain trick. As the game progressed, my button presses became more intentional and my tricks looked pretty dang cool.

How does Rollerdrome work?

I love interactive tutorials, and that’s what Rollerdrome gives you. Before the first level, there are quite a few tutorials to work through, and you have to prove mastery of a skill before moving on to the next lesson. This forces you to learn how to do tricks correctly, instead of wildly guessing during your first level. There are a few smaller tutorials throughout the game, but the majority comes before the first level. 

(Image credit: Roll7)

Before a level begins, a dashboard view shows you the par time for the level as well as the 10 possible challenges to complete. When you’re in a level, you can see your current time and score, and when you complete a challenge, the achievement bar pops up on the screen. 

Every level is full of house players and other enemies that you have to kill before they eliminate you. Some enemies require a certain type of gun to take them down, and you can easily swap between different guns mid-level. As you shoot enemies, your ammo supply depletes. In order to replenish your ammo supply, you have to perform tricks, like grabs, flips, and grinds. When a level got particularly crazy, I found it easiest to perform a simple grind on a nearby rail to restock my ammo. 

Then, while you roller skate around, trying to perform challenges and knock out your competition, you also have to fend off attacks. There are enemies on the ground who hit you if you get too close and snipers who focus a laser on you throughout the game. Luckily, you can dodge both of these attacks, but you have to strategically balance defense and offense in each level. 

(Image credit: Roll7)

If you’re thinking, “roller skating and shooting enemies at the same time sounds way too difficult to be fun,” I’ve got good news for you. It’s really not. Well, at least in Rollerdrome. There are two features that make this wild combination work perfectly on every level. 

First, there’s a feature called Reflex Mode, which slows everything down and lets you quickly move the camera while you’re in slo-mo. You can use Reflex Mode while jumping in the air, grinding on a rail, or simply skating past an enemy. Second, you don’t have to be the most accurate shooter to kill enemies. While your gun does have to be pointed in an enemy’s general direction, you’ll see an indicator pop up that lets you know when your shot will hit. 

There are four sections within one large tournament to play through, each with a different amount of levels. In order to unlock the next section, you have to complete a certain number of challenges across all previous levels you’ve unlocked. It doesn’t matter whether you complete three challenges for one level and then eight for another. As soon as you reach the number of total challenges needed for the next section, it unlocks.

Incredibly frustrating and fun at the same time 

The seemingly impossible difficulty of Rollerdrome is another aspect that reminded me greatly of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. While growing up, many of the games available to me were more difficult than the games I play today. Video games weren’t releasing nearly as fast, and developers and publishers seemed to make games harder so you could play for longer and get your money’s worth until the next biggest hit was released. (Does anyone remember The Lion King or the Aladdin game from the 90s? Super challenging!)

(Image credit: Roll7)

Even though I aced the tutorials and felt like I had an awesome grasp on the controls, I ranked D on the first level. There are four ranks, with D being the lowest and A as the highest. When I replayed the first level later to gain more challenges, I only managed to increase my rank to C. Placing in rank A is going to be nearly impossible, and only for people who truly excel at the game or just want to see all A’s across the board.  

That said, every time I was eliminated, I was fueled with a rage that made me come back faster and stronger on the next go. The more you play, the more you learn each level’s nuances and figure out your best personal strategy. You can only be eliminated if your health reaches 0; if you go over the par time for a level, it doesn’t end until you kill everyone, but it does take points off your total score. 

(Image credit: Roll7)

There is so much to accomplish in this game that makes my perfectionist soul sing with joy. There are 10 challenges to complete per level, some much harder than others. Of course, there’s the ultimate challenge of ranking A on a level. In short, the difficulty of Rollerdrome is infuriating, but addictive. 

Rollerdrome PC Performance 

Currently, Rollerdrome is set to release on a couple of platforms: PS4 and PS5, and Steam (Windows only). I played Rollerdrome on my new Lenovo Yoga 9i laptop and didn’t run into any issues. On this laptop, there’s 16GB of RAM, a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P CPU, the Windows 11 Home OS, and integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics. 

This game also recommends playing with a controller, so instead of using my mouse and keyboard — which I usually do for third-person shooters — I paired up my PS5 DualSense controller via Bluetooth. 

(Image credit: Roll7 )

Per Rollerdrome’s store page on Steam, the minimum system requirements is an Intel Core i5-2125 or AMD A12-9800 processor, 4GB of RAM, at least a Windows 10 64-bit OS, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 630, AMD Radeon HD 6770, or Intel Iris Pro 580 graphics card.

However, the recommended specs include at least an Intel Core i3-610 or AMD FX-6300, 4GB of RAM, a 64-bit Windows 10 OS, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti, AMD Radeon HD R9 270X, or AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics card.  

Bottom line

Honestly, I think anyone would have a blast playing Rollerdrome. But if you played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater as a kid or you have a special place in your heart for third-person shooters, you’ll really love this game. 

Rollerdrome is different from the games I usually gravitate toward in my adulthood, but it’s hella fun. You get to experience a unique mashup of tricking mechanics and fast-paced roller skating from a third-person shooter perspective. It’s quite possible that you might want to throw your controller across the room or break something nearby while playing, but I promise, it’s such a satisfying game.