It's not particularly noteworthy to say Decksplash is Bossa Studios' best controlling game. The developer that brought you purposely over-complicated mechanics in games like Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread is known for crafting unwieldy experiences. And while these experiences are often fun for a laugh, they're not necessarily fun to play, thanks to their awkwardly difficult controls. Decksplash may be the studio's easiest game to pick up and play, but its skating and tricking have a learning curve that's set at the exact right angle, making your overall improvement as a player all the more satisfying. I only played Decksplash's alpha test, but if Bossa can house their mechanics with more modes and levels, then the British developer could have something very special on its hands.
If you called Decksplash a skateboarding game, you wouldn't be wrong. In fact, you definitely control a skateboard as you pull off slick grinds, countless spins, and tricky manuals—albeit without an actual skater standing on it. But it doesn't control like a skateboard. No, it actually plays more like one of those dang soccer-playing cars in Rocket League. You accelerate with the right trigger, jump with the A button, and control the movement of your board with the left stick. Of course, Rocket League doesn't have grinds and manuals—both of which are governed by the X button in Decksplash—and its cars are quite a bit heavier than the understandably lighter skateboards. However, Decksplash's controls are, for the most part, as tight and responsive as Rocket League.
Despite the control similarities, you won't be playing soccer in Decksplash. The unique take on skateboarding mostly revolves around its online multiplayer, in which you try to create the biggest combo you can before landing and splashing a coat of paint on the level. You're on a team, and if yours covers more ground than the opposing squad, then you win. While the main mode couldn't be more different, there's much more than just Rocket League's controls in Decksplash's DNA.
Bossa promises loot boxes and skateboard customization, but neither were available in the alpha test. Instead, each time you spawned into a level, you were given a random board. There are a bunch of different shapes and styles, ranging from the classic skateboard to a lingerie-wearing cop. And just like Rocket League, I found myself favouring a very specific shape of vehicle, but in this case, my vehicle was a skateboard in the shape of a muscle-bound lobster man. It definitely seems like there's the possibility for as much customization and fine tuning to your preferences as Rocket League has, and I'm looking forward to seeing just how much that part of the game will grow as development moves forward.
I enjoyed most of my time with Decksplash, but I do have a couple gripes. The main one is with manuals: while grinds and wall rides feel responsive and almost magnetic, I had a hard time performing manuals. You're asked to hold X right as you land on your front or back wheels, but there were multiple times when I felt like I did exactly what it wanted me to do and it wouldn't reciprocate. I wanted manuals to operate more like grinds, almost snapping me in place when I performed one. If Bossa can tighten the controls in that one spot, then Decksplash could very well be a game I struggle to stop playing.
To be completely honest, when it comes to nailing manuals, I might just need to get better at Decksplash. However, one thing that I know for sure needs expanding on is the mode selection. As of now, the game is fairly focused on its paint-splashing—and if you didn't already notice, the game is named after it. However, in the alpha test, it also offered Challenge levels that required you to make it past various obstacles to get to a goal. I almost preferred this to the multiplayer, which makes me want to see Bossa add modes—to both single and multiplayer—that don't revolve around painting a level. Any excuse to get me into a level to perform tricks is welcome.
So far, Decksplash has real promise. Last week, I wrote about how the PC needs a new skateboarding game, and while Decksplash isn't exactly what I was looking for, it could be great nonetheless. It's set to launch in Early Access on Steam sometime this spring, and as long as Bossa Studios produces worthwhile and varied content, I know I'll return to try it out.