Game review: Session: Skate Sim
It was a dark time for video game skateboarding fans from 2010 until 2020. Many game developers stopped making skateboarding video games, and the only game that was released was the ill-received Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 in 2015.
Thankfully, game developers knew the gap in the market, and in 2020 we finally received some new skateboarding games again. First, we received Skater XL from an indie developer, and then Activision triumphantly released Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 later in the same year.
During the same time, small developer Crea-ture Studios has been working on its own skateboarding game called Session: Skate Sim. Session: Skate Sim had been in early access on both Xbox and PC platforms, but finally, the game has been fully finished in 2022.
Before you want to pick up and play Session: Skate Sim, it’s worth mentioning to all players that this game truly is a skateboarding simulator. Unlike the accessible arcade gameplay of the Tony Hawk series, Session: Skate Sim has a steep learning curve.
Even the game’s manual has a warning label that says, “Session is a hard game and will test your patience. Be advised”. Much like Skate and Skater XL, you will need to use the left and right analogue sticks to control your skater and the tricks you do.
One odd choice Crea-ture Studios has made with the game is that you have to turn your skater using the left and right triggers. You cannot simply just turn left or right by using the left analogue stick like in most other games.
I have to say, Session: Skate Sim takes a long time to master, and it will test your patience and skill. Each stick represents your front and back feet, and you also have to change your stance if you are in a switched stance.
Thankfully, the game does have a trick list that you can look at by pressing the pause button on your controller. Unlike in Tony Hawk games, Session requires you to position yourself perfectly if you want to grind or slide on a rail or ledge. Failure to position yourself correctly will result in a painful bail.
Another thing I admire about Session is the fact that it includes game sliders. You can alter the sliders to make your skate jump higher or grind longer. You can even make them spin faster to complete difficult tricks.
Alternatively, you can keep the sliders on their default setting to make the gameplay feel more realistic.
It’s also worth mentioning that this game concentrates solely on street skating. For some reason, the full game no longer allows you to do grabs. There are some pools you can skate into, although you cannot do any cool vert tricks as you can do in other skateboarding games.
However, Session: Skate Sim still feels like a complete game compared to the bare-bones single-player content offered in Skater XL. There are tons of missions for you to undertake, and you will visit the cities of New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. If you ordered the deluxe version of the game, you also get an extra area to skate in.
In terms of missions, you won’t see any of the wacky tasks that you’ll have to do in the Tony Hawk games. Instead, you get to do more realistic missions like specific combos or skating a perfect line in order to record your progress. There are even some missions where you can position objects to create the perfect line too!
As I mentioned before, it takes a lot of skill and patience to master the controls in this game. You need to rotate the analogue sticks precisely if you want to execute tricks like a 360 flip or an impossible. You will also need to approach rails at a certain angle before you can grind on them successfully.
Graphically, I was actually impressed with how large all of the cities were in this game. The levels are much bigger than the individual stages that feature in the older Tony Hawk games. You can also unlock a lot of attire in the Skate Shops to get better clothes and gear for your skater.
While I did enjoy most of what this game offers, Session: Skate Sim sadly suffers from some flaws that prevent it from being my favourite skateboarding game of all time. One of the game’s biggest issues is that it suffers from too many bugs and glitches.
My main gripe is that the game sometimes cannot recognise certain moves that you do to finish missions. For example, I ollied over a trashcan multiple times, but the game didn’t recognise it. Another time I grinded a tennis bleacher, but I still wasn’t able to finish the mission.
The game also has a poor HUD that does not explain properly what you need to do. Instead of using a helpful arrow, you see a poorly edited scribble that doesn’t tell you exactly where you need to go at times. There is also a mission I cannot complete because the time limit is too strict for me to do the tricks in time.
For those that want to compete with others online or in their own home, you’ll be sad to know there are zero multiplayer modes in this game! This is due to the fact that this game does not feature a scoring meter of any kind. The game only has small competitions in the campaign where you only compete against the AI for a high judge’s score.
The music in Session: Skate Sim is also very disappointing because it only features Reggae and instrumentals. You won’t hear punk rock, rap or, indie rock music like those featured in Tony Hawk, Skate or, Skater XL.
Overall, Session: Skate Sim features realistic gameplay with multiple different cities for you to skate in. The only things holding the game down are its multiple bugs, lack of multiplayer game modes and lacklustre soundtrack.