Easy Day Studios’ Skater XL plays no games. Which is to say, it’s a game, but it comes with no frills. At all. So, it’s more of a skateboarding simulator. There is no story mode, no coy and cliché ‘skater talk,’ nothing but the skate. It is a pared-down piece of gaming that is perfect for those looking to find the zen of skating in the age of corona. This is not Tony Hawk Pro Skater. You will never do a front or backflip. Not a one. You can land a 900 right out the gate, but you will not be skating as Spider-Man doing web-flips off of a rollercoaster. Not even close.
Skater XL looks to stand out by doing the exact opposite of the more popularized frenetic pacing of most extreme sports video games. If you can land a simple tail grab, you just might strut around your house like a peacock. The gameplay makes you earn every trick. For better or for worse.
If a game doesn’t have a dynamic element to it that makes players want to experience, it falls flat. BulletStorm had…Bullet time, and Sekiro had the grappling hook and Skater XL has independent foot control. Sounds like a tiny thing, but to control both feet of a skater means that the player executes every trick. Every little hop, flip of the board, each minute aspect of the game is controlled by you. The layout is super simple, the left and right sticks control their respective feet. It does exactly what is says it does, which might be summed up as Skate with more realistic trick execution but the jump float of the first Halo. What is weak about the gameplay is that the simplicity never dials back.
There is nothing else to do I the game but hack away at the challenge list, dozens of tricks that are slight variations on the previous one. I don’t make it sound amazing, but let me tell you – there is something to Skater XL’s very laid back demeanor. With none of the trappings of a story mode XL returns to the spiritual core of video gaming, ‘Can you do this thing?’ Another dope mechanic to the game is the ability to place your skater ANYWHERE on the map. You can control your run from start to finish or practice hitting a varial off a three-story school building. It is so much more fun to be able to practice tricks using a spawn point. This should just be standard in all extreme sports games.
Small, But Mighty
Sound is often underutilized in gaming, but Skater XL does not disappoint. The music selection would be best described as intergenerational slacker alt from the early 2000s. That time where Arctic Monkeys was popping, and The Strokes and White Stripes were new. The music is easy going and doesn’t distract at all from the only thing there is to do, skate tricks. If not for the telltale sound of wheels scraping the ground and vibrating the truck, you would never know how fast you are going. Not cool for a game based on a sport that relies on momentum. Sounds cool though.
Is It Worth The Time?
The most fun in Skater XL can be had in bailing on a trick and letting the ragdoll physics create moments you’ll want to share like a meme because memes are more fun than this game. There’s not much to say here. If you love skating and the pandemic is keeping you from going to the park, Skater XL is pure skate skills and no filler.