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Session: Skate Sim

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Sports
Publisher: NACON
Developer: creā-ture Studios
Release Date: Fall 2022

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XOne/PC Preview - 'Session'

by Cody Medellin on Nov. 20, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Session: Skate Sim is a skateboarding sim entirely focused on creativity and freedom of expression, nothing else!

The death of the Skate franchise didn't immediately conjure up a flood of skating games, serious or otherwise. In fact, the only skateboarding game of note to come out in the past few years is the side-scrolling duo of OlliOlli games. In 2019, we're getting two skateboarding games aiming for practically the same thing. The first is Skater XL, which we mentioned in the preview article earlier this year, has a good foundation but no explicit roadmap of where the game is going. The second is Session, a game that got a big boost of hype a few years ago when its debut trailer made people think it was Skate 4.

As in Skater XL, you only have access to one level in the Session build, and that's Downtown Manhattan leading to the Brooklyn Banks. The place is sparse, so you don't have to worry about hitting pedestrians or running into moving cars. Unlike the other skating sim, the area you can skate in is large, and while Session isn't stylized like the Tony Hawk games to have a lot of bowls and curved ramps, you can find yourself with plenty of gaps to jump over and lines to follow for that perfect grind.


Similarly, the control scheme isn't instantly intuitive, as you're dealing with a dual-stick setup for your main controls. Each stick controls your corresponding foot, and each tick movement feels natural enough in relation to what you want to do. For example, performing an ollie means holding down the right stick then flicking the left stick up, almost like you're doing weight distribution as you're pushing on your back foot while lessening the weight on your front foot to let it rise. If you ever switch stances, you're simply reversing which stick does what.

There's more to the controls beyond stick movement, though. Your triggers determine which direction you lean in, and they also determine spin when you're airborne. Though it isn't implemented yet, the in-game controls indicate that the bumpers are responsible for which hand will grab the board. The A button has you kicking for speed, but the Y button is perhaps the most important once since it allows you to pick up the board and walk. Considering how many things can knock you off your board, being able to run feels like a revelation that was infrequently used in other skating games.

When you finally master the controls, you'll find Session to be a game where you make your own rules. There's no scoring system in place, and there are no hard objectives to complete. You have no restrictions about where to go, and no section of the map needs to be unlocked. This is essentially free skate mode, where your only objective is to make yourself happy with whatever you want to accomplish.


Out of the box, Skater XL doesn't have a robust feature set. The game comes with an editing system, so you can capture any part of your run and turn it into videos. This isn't a fully developed feature, but you can take a piece of the timeline and splice it together to make something cool. The game also has skater customization features, including a choice of genre and a bevy of clothing options. That isn't limited to colors, either, as there are a few designs from companies like Heroin, immediately giving the game some cred. The same goes for the skateboards, and even if no other manufacturers jump on board, the modding community is already trying to fill in those blanks. The most surprising thing about the game thus far is that even though it is all about skating your way, there is some structure present if you choose to leverage it. Aside from the mandatory tutorial in the beginning that teaches the controls, the game offers up some challenges of the daily, weekly, and all-time varieties, so you have somewhere to go if you need some guidance.

As an Early Access title, there's still lots of polish to be done graphically. The skaters' faces look lifeless with dead eyes and gray skin, which makes you believe that your skater is a mannequin come to life. Animations are fine until they fail when everything goes ragdoll in awkward and painful ways. There are moments when your player can fail to spawn or spawn so awkwardly that a reset is in order. Elsewhere, the environment is well done, with only minimal detail pop-ins, and that's pretty impressive when you take into account the size of the stage. The sound effects are realistic, but the presence of music is impressive at this early stage, especially since it showcases quite a few tracks of British hip-hop.

Like Skater XL, Session has a good starting point. The controls take some time getting used to, even if you came in directly from Skater XL, but it makes sense and feels more satisfying. The presentation is quite good for an Early Access title, and there's more structure behind it. There's roughly a year to go before the developers feel this can be released as a full game.



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