Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: No More Robots
Developer: Panic Barn
A few hours into playing Soccer Story, I initially started my review with this sentence: “The key to enjoying Soccer Story is recognizing that even though it’s not a very good soccer game, it’s a perfectly fun RPG.”
Then I played a few more hours, and realized I needed to revise that assessment: it’s not a very good soccer game, and it’s not a very fun RPG either.
Soccer Story’s failings as a soccer game are obvious pretty early on. The opponents are pretty unbalanced, and are either really easy or absolutely impossible to beat. The matches are boring, officially lasting only four minutes but feeling like they last forever. Tackling is a mess, since it knocks players out for far too long. Kicking is equally annoying, especially when it comes to aiming your shots: it feels like you spend half your time practicing targeting your shots, but the moment you start a match, you suddenly can’t do it. I’m not saying I want FIFA-level soccer in a game that’s clearly not trying to compete with FIFA, but even something kind of on par with Retro Goal would’ve been nice.
It doesn’t take too long before the rest of Soccer Story becomes equally dull and frustrating. While the story – about a world where an evil corporation has banned soccer – is perfectly engaging, it locks nearly all its important beats behind mindless, lengthy fetch quests. Rather than moving the plot along, the game will send you off to collect coconuts, or collect coconuts, or find tourists, or search for ticket stubs, and for the most part, it never feels worth it – in no small part because so many of the quests involve soccer skills, and, as we’ve established, the game doesn’t do a great job in that area.
In other words, what you’re left with is a sports RPG in which neither the sport half of the equation nor the RPG are all that enjoyable. Soccer Story could’ve been a lot of fun, as other games like Golf Story and Sports Story (both from an entirely different developer, I’ll note) have demonstrated. Instead, it just leaves a lot to be desired.
No More Robots provided us with a Soccer Story Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.