Flipping, Grinding, and Splashing In The Decksplash Playtest

Nothing is better than landing huge tricks and making a huge splash of paints to celebrate…that’s what Decksplash is!

Decksplash, a weirdly titled skating game from the minds at Bossa Studios had a private playtest the other week and I was one of the players who managed to make it through to the testing phase. The purpose of the playtest was to give the games servers a good stress test. Well, that’s what I think they were doing anyway.

The developer, Bossa Studios are most known for their, “I Am Bread” and “Surgeon Simulator” titles which puts players in control of individual fingers/bread corners and makes players fight against weird mouse/analog stick sensitivities that flow far too fluidly. They bring this adored mechanic to the skating scene in their latest upcoming title, Decksplash in which players have to control the board with different inputs controlling the rotation directions for flips and board control for landing. It’s a weird method of playing, yet it comes naturally.

The concept is fairly simple. There are two teams, each with three players on each side. There is the blue team and the orange team; these teams are fighting for bigger coverage of the map by splashing their coloured paint around the area. This is achieved by performing all manners of tricks. Flipping, spinning, twisting, rotating, and grinding. Once a trick is landed, a splash of paint emerges from you and covers the ground around you. The bigger the trick, or the more combos stringed together, the bigger the splash of paint.

Players can cover other players paint, which brings a rather hectic, turf war style of gameplay, very similar to Tony Hawks’ graffiti gamemodes. The battle for coverage takes you on a totally focused journey to trying to string the biggest trick combo you can land and hope that you can push the game in your favour. While the actual rounds themselves are extremely fun and competitive, the lobby area, which acts as a sort of training ground, or warm up area is just as fun to skate in. Sure, you want to hurry up sometimes and get back into the painting the world craze, but the lobby has a type of feel where you can enjoy yourself without the competition. There’s no paint splashing, it’s just you and some online people shooting the breeze.

While you may find yourself perfecting your skills in the lobby and becoming awesome, you do end up realizing that the match is never going to happen. Many times I found myself stuck in a lobby that had hit five out of six players, but it felt like the matchmaking was struggling to find the final player. This resulted in everyone just dropping out or taking to social media to complain. Restarting the search a few times seemed to work and drop me back into a game, but then once that match had ended, you’re given the chance to rematch, but it ended up sending me back to the server search area where it spent time automatically finding another server.

Keyboard controls may look nice and close, but they’re a bit too complicated. Use a controller.

Controls are probably the biggest part of Decksplash, the fact you and control how much you flip your board, and what directions you do it in leads to some bloody impressive trick creations. Sure, pop a kickflip and cover a small amount of the map, but pull a, twisty-palooza-left-right-grindy and you cover a bigger area and feel freaking badass. The game was best played with a controller as you get more control over your tricks, whereas the keyboard becomes a feat of finger stretching and twisting awkwardly to press specific buttons while holding other specific buttons.

When the round is over, you end up seeing an end screen that features an aerial shot of the map, showing the painted carnage, with a bar along the top showing which team generated the most visible paint. You also see who was denied tricks, now this is where the Shockwave feature comes in. Basically, as you’re popping tricks you’re also building up your Shockwave metre, which when filled you can unleash. Once unleashed you blast away any nearby opposing players putting a stop to whatever combo they have, and disabling movement for a short second. Any of your teammates within the shockwave will gain a boost on their tricks and combos, allowing them to deal bigger paint coverage. Also, any tricks by you and your team that are landed within the shockwave area are doubled.

The map that was chosen for the playtest of Decksplash is a rather summery, almost Californian themed beach area. There’s a nice rail to grind around the outside of the whole thing, and there’s some rails going down the center. There’s also some round tree areas with a rail on them, and some ramps that don’t seem to work. I found myself heading towards them to gain some air, but I just ended up clipping the world and coming to a halt. It’s a vibrant map, and it was a good choice, and very symmetrical which helped with it being simple.

The skateboard styles were rather interesting, unique, and some even featured logos and styles from Bossa Studios’s previous titles. Although others looked like things that were quite…naughty. I loved the deck designs, and really hope that they allow custom deck content, either through an in-game system, or through the Steam Workshop.

I really hope that Bossa Studios end up creating a type of manual type of system, or a way to land for a short period of time, maybe a second and then resume a combo, because really the way it played out was that players couldn’t generate a combo any other way except using grinds to build the combo meter. Adding a way to continue a combo without having to use rails would be fantastic.

In terms of the playtest, I found my experience very nice. It felt like I could relax while playing it, while also being competitive. If I ignore the fact I sat in lobbies for a long period of time, or had to visit several lobbies before being able to play the actual mode, I didn’t have any issues with lag, jittering, and any other issues. Some people have reported finding bugs that allowed them to fly off into the sky and chain combos of over 100, but I didn’t find any of those. I’m afraid I’m just not a good bug hunter.

I really adore the idea of this though, and it felt like a great little party game and a competitive online game. The controls were fluid and the theme was a great homage to Tony Hawk’s Graffiti, even if it wasn’t meant to be. It was a liquified…modern version of it. Bossa have done a great job, and I’m really excited to see what other game modes and maps they can churn out.

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