No Sense In Pretending I’m Superman

HIGH Intuitive and precise controls that make skating feel real.

LOW Shoddy visuals and a huge difficulty barrier to overcome.  

WTF I should have learned how to skate in real life.

I have spoken at length about my love of skating games, specifically those that are a bit more arcadey — I’m talking about stuff that’s similar to the always-great Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. It’s a subgenre I adore, so much so that I always seek them out to review. There aren’t many currently dominating the space, but the recent few tend to do something wild to stake their claim. One such is Session: Skate Sim by Crea-ture Studios, carving its own niche in an already unique space. 

Players start by creating their own skaters, customizing basic appearance options and clothing styles. It’s bare-bones for sure, but there are dozens of brands such as Fallen, Zero, GrindKing and Thankyou that can be unlocked through play. After that, they’re thrown into one of many tutorials… And this is where things get interesting. 

Played from a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, the goal of Session is to simply skate and build up a reputation. There’s no scoring system, combo meter, or collect-a-thon challenges like the THPS games. Session instead takes a page from EA’s Skate, allowing for a more free-form experience. 

As a point of comparison within the genre, Skate has players using a combination of the control stick and triggers to simulate jumps and tricks. It’s an entertaining means of control that many indie skating games have adopted. Session takes it a step further by mapping each to a different control stick. This means that in order to do something as simple as an ollie, one stick has to be pulled down to start the trick and the other stick as to be flicked upwards to execute it. 

I takes a bit of getting used to, and Session even has warnings in its menu about possible frustration. In a way, it’s refreshing to see a fairly comprehensive skating sim go through the trouble of making every movement feel realistic.

Speaking of realism, players will use park benches, guard rails and other parts of the world to do tricks as one would in real life — it’s cool, and there’s a real sense of discovery as different things can be jumped and new opportunities turn up. While actually pulling these tricks takes a lot of practice, it’s a joy to finally execute a great jump or grind. 

The pace is slower than most extreme sports titles, letting players lounge around a bit in the open-ended, fictionalized version of New York. While there are challenges that the players can complete (include those given by actual pro skaters) most of the game is simply skating around the map. 

The major caveat I have with Session other than the difficulty of acclimating to the controls is its presentation.

The game is not attractive at all, with character models looking odd and textures rough. While the skating animations and camera options in replay mode are solid, there’s little to be impressed with when it comes to the visuals. It’s barebones at best and dated beyond belief at worst. I do love the soundtrack, however, with a healthy mix of licensed tracks and atmospheric score. I’m glad the effort went into gameplay, but the lack of visual flair drags it down. 

Despite how ugly I might find it, there’s no doubt that the gameplay in Session is its strongest suit. The difficulty might not be for everyone, but I urge anyone interested to stick with it and try to embrace what it offers — a sim-like, realistic skating experience. I commend the devs for trying something new and interesting within the genre, and while not as immediately approachable as most games, it’s something that any skating fan should try. 

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by Nacon and developed by Crea-ture Studios. It is available on PS4/5, XBO/S/Xand PC. This copy was obtained via publisher for review and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 10 hours were spent playing and the game was not completed. 

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T for Suggestive Themes, Language and Drug References. While there’s nothing too objectionable with the moment to moment gameplay (other than wiping out) there’s some mild language in the text and some of the music. It’s okay for older kids and teens for sure.  

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and visual cues are present, but cannot be adjusted. There are no audio cues needed for successful gameplay. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The controls cannot be remapped.

Cj Salcedo
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