Developers crea-ture Studios Inc and publisher Nacon have teamed up to release Session: Skate Sim, a skateboarding game – supposedly made “by skaters for skaters” – that seeks to scratch that itch we’ve all had for a decent skateboarding simulator. Whether or not the game succeeds at doing this is an entirely different story though…
In Session: Skate Sim, players get the chance to create their own skater, but that’s from a range of extremely basic-looking character creation tools. Once this is done and you’ve given your skater boi (or girl) a name, it’s time to see you later boi. As in, you’re thrown into one of the map areas and tasked with getting through the tutorial with little fanfare.
The tutorial in Session: Skate Sim is fairly basic and, unfortunately, does not do a good enough job of teaching you how to play the game. In fact, if you’re able to get through to the tutorial without regretting your purchase, you already have more patience than most gamers out there. Session: Skate Sim’s dual-thumbstick control scheme and the disappointing tutorial will put off a lot of gamers and immediately polarize anyone who picks up this game. That said, if you persevere and you’re able to get to grips with the game’s twin-stick controls, it can be a technically rewarding game.
The twin-stick controls combine thumbstick and trigger inputs to simulate manipulating the board with either foot. It makes for a very “hands-on” type of gameplay that’s not going to be intuitive for everybody. It’s like you’re really trying to skate here and you have to get into a sort of rhythm to keep going – just without the real-life pain associated with falling off a skateboard repeatedly while learning.
As for what you do with these digital skateboarding skills? Unfortunately, the game’s missions tend to become a grind-fest of failure as you try again and again and again. Should you eventually succeed at pulling off a specific trick, it feels great but, more often than not, the painful slog you had to go through ruins the entire experience. Bafflingly, you also cannot see how to pull off each trick again as the explanation isn’t repeated or accessible as an on-screen prompt – you need to try to remember how to do it after the tutorial. This limitation is a pain in the tutorial itself and the later missions exacerbate the problem.
Skating in the open-world
Where Session: Skate Sim excels lies not with the mission objectives and associated tasks, but rather with the game’s open-world environments. While they do look extremely dated and are graphically lifeless, simply skating around each vast environment and pulling off tricks at your own pace is remarkably enjoyable. After the painful tutorial session, a random skating session exploring the roads near a park, pulling off some grinds and basic tricks, felt quite fun and cathartic.
Assuming that Session: Skate Sim is being continuously updated, the developers need to address the abysmal tutorial and add a control scheme which is more user-friendly to casual players. You’re unable to remap any buttons and if you struggle with the control scheme currently in the game, you’ll hate playing it. It’s a shame to say that, as Session: Skate Sim isn’t exactly a bad game but rather a game that could use a lot more work. There’s no mouse and keyboard support either on PC and this is a missed opportunity since it could work quite well using the keys for gaining momentum and the mouse itself for pulling off tricks. I really hope crea-ture Studios Inc experiments with alternate control schemes as this could be an alternative workaround.
When it comes to the overall presentation, Session: Skate Sim looks dated and the environments feel lifeless and kinda eerie to be completely honest. Maybe some random NPCs in the background would alleviate some of this but the lack of well, life, on the maps here makes it feel as if you’re floundering around in an early access tech demo title rather than a full-fledged version 1.0 release. On the upside, the soundtrack is pretty chilled out but this vibe doesn’t save the game from its difficult-to-grasp control scheme and other strange design decisions.
Overall, Session: Skate Sim is not a game we can recommend to casual gamers. This is a game that only hardcore skateboarding fans will want to try out given the control scheme and the frustration that it causes when trying to pull off specific tricks. Hell, if you’re a hardcore skater fan that has any disabilities when it comes to gamepad inputs, it’s not going to be accessible either.
The free roaming and skating are fine and even enjoyable, but the minute you’re tasked with doing something specific, the enjoyment factor nosedives into the pavement. That said, if you manage to pull off a specific trick though, the immense satisfaction that you feel is great (if fleeting). This again, however, doesn’t redeem the game and crea-ture Studios needs to address the controls and tutorial to make it easier for gamers to control their skateboarder, regardless of their skill level or dexterity. On Steam, Session: Skate Sim is not that expensive but it might be a title you’d still want to wait for a deep discount on before taking the plunge.
A review code for Session: Skate Sim was provided to gameblur by the publisher
Session: Skate Sim (PC) ReviewSession: Skate Sim (PC) Review
- The soundtrack
- Open-world skating can be fun
- Cannot remap any controls
- Frustrating twin-stick controls
- Disappointing tutorial