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Soccer Story Review

Soccer Story

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Release: / 2022/29 Nov
Publisher: No More Robots
Developer: PanicBarn
Genre: PS5 Reviews, Reviews, Switch ReviewsXBox One ReviewsXbox Series X Reviews
PEGI: 8+
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5.5 - Gameplay
           
 
7.5 - Video
           
 
7.0 - Audio
          
 

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In a world where football is banned, it’s up to one youngster to… play football. So that football can return to the world? That’s Soccer Story, and if that explanation grabs you, congratulations – the game is exactly what you think it’ll be.

Soccer Story is part sports game, yes. But mostly it’s about exploration and MMO-style quests that have you mostly using your magic ball for busywork. It is a story where it seems the only reason everybody gave up playing football at the behest of an evil corporation is because a young person with a magic ball didn’t ask them to keep playing yet.

These things are largely just statements of fact. The story is poor, but it is the dry, white toast upon which to spread the thick Marmite that is the rest of the game. You will love it or hate it. And I truly believe it has its audience.

Gameplay is decent, with good, fun football controls that never really seem to get stretched to their limit except in, yup, optional busywork. There’s a huge amount of things to see and do. But maybe you just don’t want to.

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And all too often, the boring stuff creeps into the main quest. Find five carrots? Yup, a vital part of the plot.

Fantasy Football

Fetch quests are all too common. There’s also a seemingly endless amount of things to collect and, as is common in every game now, a fishing mini-game. Unlike every other game though, you have a magic (foot)ball with which to knock things out of trees. You can tackle into things to knock them over. It works well, on and off the pitch. It reminds me a bit of the football-but-not-quite-football of games like Total Soccer from the Net Yaroze project.

The game is set-up like this: you have an adventure game segment where you must convince a local team to play again. You then play them, and ultimately get a tournament going through other local teams. If this is sounding like there isn’t a lot of football, then you’re right. Soccer Story spends way more time setting up matches than actually playing them. It hurts it.

Because off-the-pitch things feel a bit mundane. This is from top to bottom. The missions are a bit dull, the locations aren’t great to explore – even the dialogue seems to go a bit slowly. Collecting is fun, and there are missions that absolutely stand out. But mostly you’ll be collecting or finding things. This is done without quest markers, making it extra frustrating. Which makes my next theory a little redundant.

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But in the interest of keeping on keeping on, there is definitely a vibe to this game. It reminds me a bit of Unpacking, in that the game seems to not really want to be too exciting. It has nice music, and beautiful things to see. If I wanted to boot up a game and play something that just didn’t take too much out of nem this would be a good candidate. It’s not necessarily always fun, but there’s always something to complete.

Graphics and Sound

Where the game fails as a game, it mostly shines graphically. There’s a really nice aesthetic to it. It’s not your standard “old graphics, modern system”. The 2D/3D thing from Octopath Traveller works very nicely here, although in a lesser way.

It’s bright, it’s colourful – it ties in with my relaxation theory just fine.

Sound does too. It’s mostly just nice background music, the sort of thing you’ll never remember, but which adds ever so slightly to the world you’re exploring. It’s nice, and never overpowerful.

Soccer Story Review – Conclusion

Soccer Story is an interesting but ultimately unsuccessful football game. It works okay. It attempts, I think, to be the sort of game you can slap on with a podcast on in the background. If that’s not the goal, then it never really gets above that level anyway. Missions are largely about finding stuff and bringing it back to the quest-giver. The occasional football match is fun, but all too rare.

So often it feels like a pretty decent base has been squandered on a disappointing game. And don’t get me started on that story.

But there’s still merit here. It is relaxing, in its way. It’s just not very fun. Luckily for Xbox and PC people, it’s there on Game Pass. For everybody else, be wary of taking the risk.

 

Article By

blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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