There are two types of skating games. There's the arcade skater that's all about performing bombastic tricks, long combo strings, and racking up millions of points. On the other side, there's the more realistic simulation skating game, one that focuses more on the fundamentals of skating and embracing the hobby's long learning curve. If the subtitle "Skateboarding Sim Game" was too subtle, Session veers more into the latter camp. Ahead of its 1.0 release later this year, Shacknews jumped on our board and gave this effort from Crea-ture Studios a shot and it definitely feels like a simulation title, for better or worse.
What stands out about Session immediately is its control scheme, which only allows for controllers. Sorry, PC players, no keyboard support here. Somewhat similar to old school sim titles like EA's Skate, Session focuses on using the analog sticks as the player's legs. The A button on an Xbox controller is used to push forward, while the shoulder triggers turn the skater. Performing tricks involves pushing down one stick to bend down and moving the other one in a different direction to perform a basic trick. Learning tricks can be simple, but it requires some heavy brain rewiring, especially as the controls reverse themselves for switch stance.
The team at Crea-ture Games realize that Session has a high learning curve, which is why over the course of its Steam Early Access stint, the game has instituted various difficulty options. Even on Assisted and Easy, though, players are going to have to work for their tricks.
This becomes evident once the tutorials begin, as players are quickly taught how to perform basic skating moves, like the kickflip, grind, and manual. Failure comes naturally in Session, but it paves the way for success. Before long, I was getting the hang of performing standard tricks, though there are a few areas that I found a little bit brutal. For one, I was a little irked when I saw that I couldn't complete my goals anywhere, but had to do them in a specific spot. I was sticking manuals all over the place, but the objective wasn't to do them all over the place, it was to do it within a small, cramped assigned spot. That made things much more difficult. Another thing, which I'll fully admit is a "me" problem, is that Session's difficulty gets on a totally new level when asked to perform tricks in switch stance. Keeping track of the basic controls and what does what is hard enough, but then having to flip it and reverse it is just asking for a brain meltdown.
Regardless of the controls, I certainly can't fault the work that Crea-ture has put into Session. The default map appears to be a faithful reinterpretation of a vast portion of New York City with new pieces being added over time. In fact, the next big update will feature a new Skate Park, Jerome Avenue Banks, which offers some new sights to see while getting some valuable skating practice in. The team is also working to put together Philadelphia, though development on that is still in its early stages.
If you're looking for a much more hardcore skating experience than what's currently on the market, it might be worth looking in Session's direction. The game still has a long way to go, particularly with character models looking rough and numerous texture clipping issues. However, the foundation for something strong is here. Session is currently available via Steam Early Access, as well as on PlayStation and Xbox. The next big update is set to drop later this month, while the big 1.0 update aims for a September release.
Impressions are based on a Steam Early Access build provided by the publisher.