This time five years ago, skateboarding games were in a rough place. The last major skateboarding game was the truly awful Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and EA’s Skate series had been dormant since 2010 despite fervent fan demand for a new entry. Around that time Montreal-based developer Creā-ture Studios first showed off Project Session which looked to scratch the Skate itch. In the five years since, things have started to look up with Tony Hawk’s triumphant comeback in Pro Skater 1 + 2 and a new Skate on the way. Despite this, Session: Skate Sim manages to carve out its own unique take on the skateboard genre.
Realism is the name of the game in Session. While the Skate series was decidedly more realistic than Pro Skater, it still had a fun pick-up-and-play nature to it. To be blunt, Session is hard: you will likely not have fun for the first few hours after you pick it up (something the developers acknowledge themselves). The game is controlled with the left and right sticks corresponding to each leg, with tricks being performed as they would in real life (so you pop up and kick your front foot to the side for a kickflip, etc). However, once you get the hang of it, it’s extremely satisfying. The game also offers up a selection of modifiers like pop height and gravity to make things easier or harder as you please.
The mission structure of the game devolves into going to a place, doing a trick or route, strung along by forgettable story dialogue. The missions have a habit of being poorly explained, furthered by being unable to re-read text boxes explaining what you need to do. And rarely do the inputs needed for specific moves get shown during these prompts. For better or worse, Session is a game for the hardcore skater. While its dedication to realism is impressive, the frustration in the early hours is likely to turn most off.