2020 might be a year that many people are eager to forget (and we’re only halfway through!) but is the world already getting nostalgic for 2003? Not only are gamers seeing a reimagined version of the venerable Tony Hawk series coming later this fall, but there’s also Skater XL and even rumblings of a new Skate title from EA.
So, where does Session fit into the resurgent skating genre when already-proven titles are coming down the pipeline? The answer will likely come down to its vibe.
While Tony Hawk was based on an increasingly-ridiculous set of fetchquests and unrealistic antics and Skate centered on complicated trick chains, Session aims to bridge these ideas and add a strong dose of real-world lifestyle to the equation.
Though it’s an early build, the preview version offers a hyper-realistic control system within a living world that encapsulates the “whoa, did you see that?” vibe common when around modern skating.
From the outset, Session offers users the freedom to create their ideal skaters, and boards and alongside a wide range of elaborate environments, a detailed map editor, and a control scheme that assigns one analog stick per foot.
With this control scheme, button mashing and trigger pulls aren’t going to make the onscreen skaters soar into the stratosphere. Instead, users will be rewarded for laser-focused timing, precise stick movements and a good dose of perseverance.
Having been raised on Tony Hawk silliness, I struggled with these controls for several hours. After countless gruesome crashes and much frustration, even doing simple tricks like ollies and kickflips felt unbelievably rewarding. From there, it all began to make sense, stringing trick chains together became easier and my enjoyment grew immensely.
Once users become comfortable with the elaborate control scheme, Session encourages them to start creating montage videos akin to a virtual YouTube channel of seamlessly edited shredding. It’s a great addition since filming skaters and capturing every sick air and nasty grind has been a part of the culture since the beginning.
The video feature is great, but one thing that’s missing in this early build is structure. While Session offers deep level and creation tools, there currently isn’t much motivation for skaters to keep playing apart from wanting to master the controls and making awesome clip reels. Hopefully, the developers will include some goals or a mission-type structure for the full release version.
Session isn’t going to be the “pick up and play” choice for those wanting arcade-style skating experiences, but there’s a moment when this realistic control setup just clicks and then the creative possibilities seem endless. If the rest of the content is as rich as this, I’ll be quite excited to get my hands on the final release.
This game is developed and published by creā-ture Studios Inc and is currently available on Windows and Xbox One via Xbox Game Preview.
When not writing for Gamecritics, Brad spends his days managing several sports and entertainment websites, handling several freelance writing contracts, and occasionally playing the role of "Dad" when time permits.
Brad is also the only guy on this staff who prefers the Xbox One to other platforms. And he's not budging on that one bit.