An upcoming street skateboarding game with realistic mechanics in an already rather stale genre.
Released: Steam Early Access
Developer: Crea-ture Studios Inc.
Publisher: Crea-ture Studios Inc.
Release date: 17 Sep, 2019
Skateboarding games have become a thing of the past nowadays, which is quite unfortunate. The most recent, major skateboarding game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 turned out to be a massive flop, and EA refuses to do anything with Skate, the skateboarding genre was becoming stale, slowly dying off.
Yet, almost out of nowhere, Crea-ture studios pops up with a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 for a brand new game – Session: Skateboarding Sim – with the main goal of creating a more realistic, grounded take on the sport. Sure enough, there’s enough interest in the game and meets is crowdfunding goal, and 2 years later, Session is put up on Steam in Early Access. Is it going to be the next big addition to the genre? Or will it fall flat before it even comes out?
The Concrete Playground
Starting a new game will put you into a tutorial immediately, giving you the chance to learn the game’s mechanics and tricks while receiving sass from a rather snarky guide. The tutorial doesn’t take very long (unless you’re like me and mess up just to see the ragdoll and have a laugh) and you’re free to run around and roam New York City, free to do tricks wherever you please.
The world around you is the most impressive part of this game so far. The texture work is brilliant, as is the dedication to giving the explorable area as ghetto a vibe as possible. However, the most impressive aspect of Session’s open world has to be its dedication to the real-life locale. One of Crea-ture’s selling points is that the game’s world is “Recreated on a 1:1 scale” of a chunk of the Two Bridges neighborhood. While I’ve never been to Brooklyn myself, doing a bit of “research” involving nothing more than using Google’s Street View shows that the game is surprisingly accurate to real-life locations.
Session’s Soundtrack is also quite entertaining. There’s a fairly interesting selection from a small handful of hip hop artists, primarily from Rum Committee, that all play quite well into the urban ghetto vibes. I find it a bit odd, however, that a lot of the soundtrack comes from groups based in the UK, though it’s not an issue at all. Regarding the rest of the sound design, everything seems to be on the right track. As of right now, the only thing you get to hear outside of the music is the skateboard itself. Your skateboard gives off different sounds depending on the ground you’re riding over, rather than having a static sound of a skateboard over concrete.
One problem I have with the world design, which may or may not be resolved in the future, is the lack of life. While the world itself is beautiful, nothing is going on. No people walking around, no cars driving anywhere, it’s just too quiet and lifeless.
Good concept, bare minimum content
As good as the overall design of the game’s environments and visuals can be, there’s not much else to talk about. Your tricks are pretty much limited to jumps, flips, and grinds, with grabs being available, though the latter is in an opt-in experimental stage. Unfortunately, that’s quite literally all you get. You’re given a large playground full of opportunities to show off your pro skater tricks, yet you’re unable to do anything constructive with those tricks. There ARE a very small amount of challenges with a reward to complete them, though I’m not 100% sure if they are achievable at the moment. Even then, there’s no system in place for the money you receive.
The only other major feature is a replay editor, allowing you to save and edit shots of your sick moves. While it’s fairly awkward to navigate with just a controller, the editor offers just about everything you need to ensure you can show off your ‘3p1c m0ntag3’ as smoothly as possible. You can access the editor in two ways; either in-game in the start menu, or your apartment, pretty much your base of operations which only serves as a means to change your character’s appearance.
Plenty of opportunities for fine-tuning
Session could certainly use a lot more refinement, as is expected with an early access game so early into development. While the game seems quite stable, the performance itself can be a bit of a struggle, barely hitting 45 fps on higher settings in most of the more well-decorated areas.
Regarding the gameplay, again, Session could use a bit more of a tune-up. The current grind system they have in place seems to work out a bit more than expected, even without the “casual rail magnet” setting. The ragdoll effect you get when you mess up a trick or get too intimate with the roadside curb is a mix of hilarious and slightly jarring, as the ragdoll itself seems to move at a much quicker, unorthodox speed compared to just about everything else you can pull off.
In its current state, Session is very rough around the edges. The game is lacking any major content and is more or less a mere proof of concept. However, it’s not hard to see that the game has plenty of potential. With enough polish and even more content, Session could be a fantastic game. Now, the big question of whether or not the game is worth your time; not quite yet. If you’re insistent on treating like your purchase as an investment into what the game can become, then it certainly is worth your money. However, for just about everyone else eager to get into sink your teeth into this game, it might be smarter to wait until there’s an actual game to play.