EA's Skate might have Tim Robinson, but the skating game where I played a demon on a quest to eat the Moon is my most anticipated Tony Hawk-like this year

Doing a kickflip in Skate Story.
(Image credit: Devolver)

There are, of course, two skating games on the horizon right now. One of them is a new Skate (written 'skate.' in an attempt by EA to kill everyone beholden to a style guide everywhere), a free-to-play live-service game that will see you take on challenges and events across an expansive city-turned-skate-park.

The other is the one where you eat the Moon.

(Image credit: Devolver)

Skate Story, from developer Sam Eng, is a bizarre, lustrous thing: A mashup of the Tony Hawk games and The Divine Comedy (stay with me) that sees you—a polygonal, glass skater—chase the Moon down a series of strange, twisting levels, ollie-ing and kickflipping all the while.

After getting 30 minutes of playtime with it at this year's Summer Game Fest, it's easily one of my most-anticipated games from the show. Sure, sure, it's stylistically incredible, but it's just genuinely fun to actually skate in. I am building momentum, I am hopping over obstacles, I am popping ollies at the lip of the ramp in order to maximise the damage I do to the Moon. You know, skating game stuff, done with aplomb both aesthetically and mechanically. 

Skateboarding: not a crime, maybe a sin 

(Image credit: Devolver)

Skate Story's narrative is deliberately, gleefully abstract. My demo simply plonked me in the sneakers of a demonic skater, fed me a few lines about my stupendous lust for lunar flesh, and sent me on my way.

That meant racing down twisty, spiky alleyways in pursuit of my quarry. The feel of Skate Story will be familiar to anyone who's ever laid hands on a Tony Hawk game: The sense of gathering momentum—and the frustration of losing it when your ambition outstrips your skill—is all but identical. The opening levels demand you become accustomed to it quickly, navigating sharp turns and lethal obstacles by managing your speed and building toward jumps. It feels good, like you're an other-worldly Bam Margera when you pull it off, and like an absolute fool when you don't.

It feels good, like you're an other-worldly Bam Margera when you pull it off, and like an absolute fool when you don't

The dialogue is delirious, so I honestly can't tell you too much about what's happening in the game's overarching plot. I can tell you about its vibe and moment-to-moment interactions, though. They're exquisite, alternating between forebodingly prophetic and utterly daft. In particular, one of the areas—a hub that I arrived at in between the demo's tutorial and its final boss—is beautifully silly. 

(Image credit: Devolver)

It's a kind of open museum overseen by a junta of philosophers who are, essentially, Easter Island heads. Eng explained to me that these are riffs on the virtuous pagans in Dante's first circle of Hell: Homer, Ovid and what-have-you, doomed to grieve eternally outside of God's grace.

Doomed also to live with a thirst that only I can quench. On arriving in the philoso-zone, one of the heads informed me that I'd only be able to escape and continue my pursuit of the Moon if I could collect up two thinkpieces (the most godless currency of all). The whole area had the feeling of a hub zone, and I had various options to acquire my second text after the first somehow magically manifested in my inventory. I opted to buy a thirsty philosopher a can of Bile Tea from the local gift shop and, in return, was allowed to continue on my way.

Moon hunters

The demo concluded with a boss fight against the Moon. Although Skate Story has a trick system, it doesn't have Tony Hawk-style scoring. Instead, your tricks come in handy to overcome challenges and, crucially, to do damage to bosses as they zip about the level. Annihilating the Moon was a matter of occupying a circular zone outlined beneath it and popping the best and hardest tricks I could.

(Image credit: Devolver)

Which, given that I've never really been much good at skating games, was mostly a matter of repeatedly kickflipping. There's some nuance there, though: Your tricks do more damage the gnarlier they are. Performing them at speed or after making a great leap will take off a lot more boss health than squeaking out a few limp pop shove-its as you amble along. Tricks get old, too, and will do gradually less damage as you perform them over and over.

It feels like a smart mix-up of the traditional skating game formula in a way that will still see you scrambling to master all the different tricks and combos that are available. My battle with the Moon got off to a slow start as I mucked up my tricks and learned my way around the arena, but by the end I was taking off great gobs of health by taking advantage of ramps and drops to pull off impressive tricks.

And then (spoilers ahead) I ate the Moon. Shrank it down to the size of a gobstopper and popped it right in my mouth, at which point the demo ended. What could this portend? What could it mean? Which celestial body would my skater-demon pursue next?

A ghostly rabbit in Skate Story. The subtitles read, "I know these portals, for as long as I've been dead."

(Image credit: Devolver)

I look forward to finding out when Skate Story releases later this year. For now, you can find its page over on Steam

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.