Review of Session: Skate Sim - a profoundly rewarding simulator that requires a bit of attention

Review of Session: Skate Sim - a profoundly rewarding simulator that requires a bit of attention

Skateboarding is tough. Really difficult. In many years, you''ll have guessed that mastery is a challenge.

Is it still a huge feat to get a kickflip while moving along? Sure, today there are wildly more complex moves out there, but it takes hours of effort and a deep resilience to failure to get there. However, the moment you go high, flick it with a foot just enough to spin once beneath you, and successfully commit to the landing, the reward is immense. It''s not an achievement recompensed in any type of currency. Rather, to succeed is more than enough of a pay

That is the concept that has shaped the design of Session: Skate Sim. It''s certainly not as challenging as real skateboarding, but it''s a game that makes you think like a skateboarder. The key is in the building. In doing so, crea-ture Studios has crafted something that works with the essence of real skating, even if that approach involves deciding what they want.

The Tony Hawk games sparked fascination by abstracting skateboarding out to a variety of button combinations. Finally, EA Black Box sparked the beloved Skate, which at least referred to simulation. The powerful thumbstick-based control system used to simulate subtle foot movements made it more enticed by it.

Skate has taken the lead and run with it, with the help of highly dedicated coaches and instructors in simulator territory. As such, Session is unashamedly dedicated to realism, though it is somewhat disgruntled. In its own peculiar, imperfect way, it captures more about skateboarding than any other game that has happened before.

The location for those who have spent time with the Tony Hawk or Skate games is the highlight, with a vast urban area, surrounded with street furniture that suits their needs. However, this is a game with no score system, no hidden collectibles, and very little possibilities for stunt skating. Frills are limited and far between here. You will even get a trick name displayed when you successfully land it. Many hours in, just timing a 360 flip to clear a curb and land on a concrete planter can still

The unique play feel of Session is derived from a combination of its physics system and controls. Depending on your posture, one thumbstick represents the front foot, while the other the back foot. As with real skating, you put all of the weight there, coiled like a spring and bristling with the potential of kinetic energy. Building upon that, different movements, motions, and foot placements can help you rot and lose weight.

Do you want to get your weight back on the deck before making sure it''s going to be stopped? Push each foot out to the nose and tail of your deck, and the board responds accordingly. It would be an overstatement to say that every thumbstick movement absolutely mirrors real skateboarding''s control, although it comes closer than any other game has managed.

Then there''s the way the game''s physics determines what is possible. In skateboarding games, the board''snaps'' to the rail or edge, where there is no discernable help there. In Session, you''ll need to approach an obstacle at just the right angle and speed, pop a trick with meticulous timing, and then land with the weight of your feet as they should be for various grinds. You may also uncover a new approach or trick.

Dive into the game''s many settings - including some "experimental" options that drain beta energy - and you can even begin to push what you want with a board and expand into a controller with extensive scope for discovering new things.

Discovery defines the journey. Session''s narrative is minimal, but it might be a surprise to explain how to do a triple flip, for example. It is really wonderful to be freed from the likes of a standardized list of tricks, each assigned a tiny chain of buttons presses. Real skateboarding is about exploring, and seeing urban terrain redefined through a playful new lens. It gives you a skateboard, gravity, control over your feet, and swathes of concrete and rails

The creation of crea-ture Studios is a very unusual beast when it comes to how the entire experience is presented. It is visually appealing, rather than striking or exciting. Some nuanced touches, such as how your wheels, griptape, and even clothing pick up grime and wear. However, much of the presentation is without flourish.

Even if you switch on the likes of pedestrians in the settings, its city landscapes are tonally dead; often uncanny in their eerie emptiness. Despite the fact that other unvoiced skaters you meet feel fairly hollow, even your own character does not have a sense of presence, morphing into a floppy ragdoll when you leave the game - which occurs a lot.

Session makes several unusual decisions in how it communicates the game to you. A chain of missions takes you through the game, introducing techniques, and avoiding you from new areas. This approach makes it more difficult to understand the program. Elsewhere, it''s easy to miss that you can teleport between multiple cities, and the map is at best barred.

Again, here the comparison with the recent years'''' wave of sombre train and trucking simulators bears up. This is a game about realism over atmosphere or any attempt at vibrancy. There are differences to tone. A pumping soundtrack gives a fresh emphasis on genres like dancehall and ragga, and there are options to customize your clothes and board. Don''t expect to break into the skateboarding lifestyle, or much in the way colourful.

Session is a game about function and capturing what it is to skate; not so much the surrounding culture that the sport has spread to the mainstream. Like real skateboarding, it rewards persistence. It is a solitary pursuit that can be challenging and flat at times, but that is extremely difficult to put down.

Session is a fantastic experience, but when you finally nail something as straightforward as a kickflip to tailslide, you feel the world''s most accomplished gamer. Even if you haven''t touched a deck since the one you received in a toyshop as a kid, it is truly amazing, and it can be profoundly rewarding. Persistence is in what might be the most distinct contribution yet.

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