Growing up, the golden standard of skateboarding games was Tony Hawk. With the fall of that franchise, EA's Skate series seemed to take the lead. With no decent entry in either franchise in over a decade, there's a hole left in the market. There's something nostalgic about skating around a factory, beach park, or business district listening to rap and punk rock while trying to find the best lines. New skateboarding simulator Session tries to recapture that magic. After reaching funding on Kickstarter back in December of 2017, this nostalgic throwback is finally hitting Steam Early Access.
Welcome To The Skating Simulation of Session
Session takes the simulation of skateboarding games and dials it to 11. While Early Access is on PC, you need to play with a controller due to a unique control scheme. Each stick on your pad takes control of one leg of your skater. For each trick, you'll need to move the sticks as your feet would move on a normal board. Even for a simple jump, you need to pull back on your back foot while flicking up with your left. For a heel or kickflip, it's setting up for an ollie and then moving your front foot to the left or right.
The level of simulation doesn't only rack up the difficulty of each of the tricks but pulling them off rewards the player with greater satisfaction. When the trick doesn't work out as you want the ragdoll can at least get a couple of good laughs. Even when riding goofy your left stick will correspond to your left foot. If you're not feeling comfortable with goofy riding and the swapping of sticks you can change this setting to control front/back foot instead.
Session Control Scheme Takes Patience
Playing Session is difficult, a fact that even the game warns you about, this isn't the type of game button mashing will make you good at. Even starting small it will be a few hours until you're likely to perform any tricks you feel good about but it pays off. Not all tricks that you might expect to see in a skateboarding game are present yet, grab tricks are still in the experimental phase.
The city that you drop into doesn't have many "for skaters" items. Unlike Skate or Tony Hawk, you won't see a halfpipe set up in the middle of a city or a series of rails set up to launch you to a balcony. What you'll see is railings next to stairs, park benches, and a water feature that happens to work as a ramp. This level of realism in the world is nice to see, it's not some skater paradise but the real world. There are some interesting looking features past the invisible walls, including a pool. Whether they will get expansion or not is anyone's guess. For a starting area, it comes with a good variety of settings and plenty to practice on.
Session's World Mimics A Real City
Once you've found that perfect line of tricks you can start working to chain them together. You can drop a location marker and respawn to it over and over once you've found your line. Session is a game of building, you begin barely being able to ollie. From there, you develop your heelflip into a 360 heelflip. A step further, you can combo into a grind. After grinding you can then land and continue on to your next trick.
If you've got a line that you're proud of, you can use Session's built-in editor to cut your own video. The editor gives you free control of the camera to move where you want or orbit around the player. You can create keyframes both for camera tracking as well as speed modifiers. The editor can be a fight in itself. Keyframing can be set up following the player, orbiting around them, or it can be completely free. You'll find your view jumping around at random points or even becoming locked while scrolling through footage. Even after getting half of a line set up in the editor, it would sometimes glitch out. The view would glitch under the floor or find itself stuck in the wrong direction.
Session Is Still Very Much In Development
Session is still feature-lite, but that's to be expected as an Early Access title. Grab tricks, lip tricks, and multiplayer aren't in the game yet, but they're coming. What Session does bring to the table is very strong. The complicated controls admittedly take some acclimation. Once you're going, it's a great feeling. It might not scratch the arcade itch of getting a high score in Tony Hawk Pro Skater. The world of Session isn't your playground like in Skate. However, for someone who wants to find a great line to skate down and get some good footage, this is going to be the game for you.
TechRaptor previewed Session on PC via Steam with a code provided by the publisher.