Soccer Story is a soccer game with RPG elements injected into it. It was developed by indie studio Panic Barn and published by No More Robots. It released on consoles and PC in November 2022.
*Disclaimer: A code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review. This in no way affects the score, as my thoughts are mine and mine alone.
The world renowned Apple Cup is underway! Players are hitting the pitch and the game is frantic. Suddenly one side gets a goal…and chaos. Explosions everywhere! People running, screaming, with no idea what’s happening. Soccer balls go flying, nets are busted, the field is left in ruin. How did this happen? Well this was the calamity, and since then, Soccer Inc has taken over soccer, and has banned it from the world. Only time it may be played is if they say so.
One day in your room, a magical soccer ball flies through your window, and you decide it’s time to bring back soccer and make the world a better place again! Throughout the story, you go to different areas of what I presume to be an island nation of people, and figure out how they would take up playing soccer again to appease the evil corporation. That’s basically it. After each area, the camera changes to show a little bit about the villains, but I just didn’t care enough. The writing felt bland and has no real emotion to it. Heck even the ending fell flat with no true resolution to really anything.
When it comes to the gameplay, it definitely didn’t live up to what I thought I was going to get. The game is broken up between Story Mode and Quick Match. Now first, let’s talk about Quick Match, because there’s not much here. You can have up to four players play in split screen, and you can choose about half a dozen teams to play as. One didn’t feel any better than the other honestly, so this really didn’t matter. Now in most sports games that I’ve ever actually played, you can at least customize your rules and stuff to give yourself the best experience. In this however, there is nothing like that. It’s automatically 4v4, with a 4 minute game. No periods, no silly options, no team customization, NOTHING. I tried it for 10 minutes and never felt any reason to try it again.
The Story Mode on the other hand is actually quite fun when you’re not having to read through the bland story. As you run around the world trying to fight the evil Soccer Inc, you get to do quests, go fishing, and even do some diving in the water to find items you need for a plethora of things, all using your magical soccer ball. Everytime I entered a new area, my first reaction was checking it all out, seeing what quests I could do, what the NPCs were doing, and what minigames were in the area. I played golf with my soccer ball, I played volleyball, I did a triathlon sort of thing. There was so much fun to be had! Especially scouring the map for the targets to hit.
In some areas there’s even puzzles to complete. These usually required you to refer to an item in your inventory to give you clues, and I really enjoyed this mechanic. As you do puzzles and quests, you can get money or upgrade tokens that you could use on your team to increase their stats. This ranged from running speed, to shooting skills, to stamina, and lastly, strength, which determined how fast they got up from being tackled. This was fun to pick and who to upgrade first, but I never got to fully upgrade everyone. Mostly because I missed a few side quests, and some just wouldn’t complete. In the beach area of the game, I couldn’t talk to an NPC who wanted coconuts after I got them. This left me frustrated beyond belief because I just wanted my reward!
This unfortunately wasn’t the only bug in the game either. From symbols coming back, to items respawning in the open world that I couldn’t interact with. Heck there was even a big one in the soccer matches. Now when it comes to the actual soccer gameplay, this was few and far between in the story, which is what really surprised me, but it was also bland and lifeless with some of the worst AI I’ve ever seen. As you run up the field, or pitch, whatever you want to call it, you get no support from your AI. They’re never there with you to help set up shots, as the enemy AI are all over you, constantly. So you’re left to try and just smash the ball into the goalie until you get luck and get it in. Oh sure there’s a mechanic to “curve the ball” but it never worked in the match. Or when it did, it did it all by itself, absolutely ruining your shots.
The amount of times I had the game just do whatever it wanted was way too many to count. Here I am trying to run one way and the game is MAKING me run to the ball. Then once the character had the ball, it got kicked without my say so. When you want to switch characters, you only get to swap between two, as opposed to your entire team. You get to play as the goalie once they have the ball, but the amount of times they’d get stuck so they couldn’t move was also way too much. Sometimes the ball wouldn’t even go into the goal, but it would still count it. You also get special moves in the match, like a power shot, or better slides, but these felt useless. There was just nothing fun about the gameplay and it just saddens me so much because I love a good arcadey sports game, yet I hate actual sports! Figure that one out.
- Fun Side Quests
- Gameplay Was Bland
- Story Was Boring
- The AI Teammates!
With the amount of content there is in this game that actually kept me entertained, I could recommend it based on that. But with the boring gameplay, the terrible AI teammates, and the bland story, I cannot. There’s so many better soccer games out there, arcadey or not, that you should go play those. Or at least wait until some of the bugs are ironed out.