Session is a skateboarding simulator that was initially announced in 2017 and for which a Kickstarter campaign was successfully funded in November 2017. Considering EA had pretty much abandoned the Skate series at the time, Session was seen as a spiritual successor to EA’s acclaimed series and was meant to fill the void. Session can also be considering the opposite of the long-running, more arcade-y Tony Hawk skateboarding series.
Session, as the name implies, is a skateboarding simulator where instead of pressing face buttons to perform tricks à la Tony Hawk, moves are performed with the help of both joysticks in order to mimic real-life movements performed by a skateboarder. Most of the time, you’ll need to hold down a joystick down in order to get ready to get some air to perform a move. You can gain speed by pressing X to give yourself a push with the left foot or A for the right foot. In order to turn, you have to use the triggers; which is counter-intuitive. We’ve been conditioned, in gaming, to move a character with a joystick or a d-pad so this will take a bit of adjusting to; it’ll take some time to un-condition your thinking of moving with the left joystick.
One of the game’s strongest points is definitely the various levels of difficulty as there’s something for everyone from newcomers to hardcore players. But while I applaud the various difficulty setting based on your knowledge of skateboarding, beginners will still have a hard time figuring out the moves especially if they don’t have any experience with the world of skateboarding. During the tutorials, the game would greatly benefit from an option to view the trick and controls to input before attempting it.
Additionally, the game features four different levels to skate around; each different from one another. It allows players to experience in a diversity of settings and varied locale is key in a skateboarding game as obstacles will vary from area to area giving room for players to experiment with a plethora of tricks and combos.
While I applaud this attempt at the very thin skateboarding sim genre, Session requires a lot of patience and dedication; especially for newcomers. It will also work your muscle memory because unlike Tony Hawk where pressing a different combination of buttons will result in a move, Session requires to you remember how to perform each move precisely. When first booting up Session, while going through the tutorial, the game feels more like a chore than an actual game as you try to learn and grasp the concept of its control scheme. Gamers who also skateboard on a regular basis will feel at home so to speak and easily figure out moves and grasp the lingo while newcomers will most likely have no idea what the trick is supposed to be.
For a game still in preview status, it does look great overall. There were a few clipping issues and an odd one where I could just use the skateboard while the character laid motionless on the ground. Soundwise, the limited soundtrack included in the preview had underground hip hop which feels about right. In the vein of experiencing something close to the real thing, all the sound bytes are as accurate as possible.
Session is the next best thing to trying to learn to skateboard in real life; you’ll struggle, fall flat on your face or back; all without the actual pain of it. However, as with any simulator, Session is definitely geared towards the hardcore skateboard fans looking to satisfy a void left by Skate. And despite its wide range of difficulty settings, newcomers might be frustrated while hardcore skateboarding fans will revel in it.