It only happens once every 4 years, but the FIFA World Cup 2022 has once again centred the spotlight onto the realm of soccer—all right, all right—football for all you purists out there. As this show-stopping event is being hosted in one of the worst possible locations ever, Soccer Story has swooped in to capitalise on the breaks in between games and beers… or lack thereof if you happen to be in Qatar.
Kicking & Screaming
Before you ask—yes, this title has borrowed Golf Story’s homework and changed it slightly, but the football-specific adaptions feel very natural. Even though the PC version soft-locked on me several times, it’s great how players can fully customise the controls to their liking. Soccer, as the game calls it, has been banned all around the world by none other than the corrupt, Sepp… I mean, Bep Jatter. So the protagonist must shoot a ball at targets, dribble around cones, play keepy-offs and participate in all sorts of football-related shenanigans to bring the world’s game back to life.
While these activities are quirky and all, they do get a bit tedious as the campaign goes along, especially since the majority of them are just glorified scavenger hunts. Albeit, there are a few that make great use of football’s unique qualities. Around the map, some targets require players to kick the ball forward into a square, then chase it down to execute a classy, slide-tackle finish. Others involve a curved shot around a wall, punting sharks with a ball (yes, that happens) or a simple game of footvolley. These mini-games are where Soccer Story shines. However, the constant searching for objects over a large radius and the unfortunate lack of a fast travel option really started to grind my non-existent football boots.
The 5-a-side matches aren’t that memorable either. Most games can be won by casually shot-spamming the goalkeeper or shooting from halfway, as they can’t stop an attempt to save their life. It’s almost as if they’re scared of the ball. Conversely, it doesn’t help that the AI practically reads your movement inputs on hard mode, and the fact that you have to unlock skills like one-twos and lob passes is a sin. But still, it’s an overall decent outing that can be shared with 3 other friends in a multiplayer Quick Match. It doesn’t come close to the complexity of FIFA—if anything, like something you’d find on Miniclip back in the day. Although, you can witness some wacky, over-the-top antics, especially if you start pinging shots from halfway for funsies.
The RPG Side of Things
Similar to Golf Story, the whole squad can upgrade their speed, shooting, energy and strength which often makes a big impact both on and off the pitch. For example, one of the biathlon challenges is a lot harder to complete without upgrading speed and energy to their fullest, as players will simply lose time moving through checkpoints. During a match, having high stats can give teams a huge advantage. In particular, the strikers if their speed and shooting are maxed out. This makes zipping past defenders noticeably easier, which allows for more shots against incompetent goalkeepers.
That being said, putting the CPU on hard mode is still a considerably tough challenge. It’d usually take me a full minute just to cross the halfway line because the defence would absolutely take no prisoners. Even better in their case, as fouls aren’t a thing here. All you’ll hear is the commentator go “Ouuuu! That’s nasty!” while your winger gets collected for the umpteenth time that day.
The traditional, hero-waking-up-to-mum’s-cooking storyline is alive and well here, but it really plays into the silliness of the situation, dialling up the camp whenever possible—the goalkeeper of your team is a panda, for crying out loud. Although, there’s nothing happening in Soccer Story that’ll leave much of an impression, apart from a handful of silly gags hither and thither. Then again, what could you expect from a plot where saying “football” in public is the equivalent of muttering “Lord Voldemort”? Nothing spectacular, that’s for sure.
Following the precedent of sports RPGs like Golf Story and Dodgeball Academia, Soccer Story has successfully served up it’s own plate of football-flavoured activities. While most tasks act as disguised fetch quests, they are enjoyable enough to keep players invested. Even if they can become tedious over time, some examples like the footvolley and keepy-offs mini-games are simple, yet surprisingly endearing events. In terms of the script, this game obviously isn’t going to win any literary awards, but the comedic writing on display does hit those comedic notes regularly. So is it time to take revenge on Soccer Inc. and their dastardly deeds? Well, it honestly depends on how much you enjoy these types of games. For everyone else, there’s always FIFA.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on PC
Soccer Story has some fun and varied gameplay to keep you occupied between binge-watching the World Cup. This title does follow along with Golf Story’s DNA, albeit it does just enough to keep the festivities distinct and fresh as the football-themed campaign progresses. Even though it can get annoying having to constantly scavenger hunt and backtrack for things in large areas, hence the lack of a fast-travel option is severely frustrating.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by No More Robots. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.