Soccer Story is a sports RPG developed by PanicBarn and published by No More Robots. We enter a world where soccer has been completely banned due to the Calamity. This resulted in Soccer Inc shutting down every stadium, team, and tournament, effectively canceling the sport entirely. That is — until a magical soccer ball finds the Savior of Soccer, which happens to be you. You’ll stand against Soccer Inc and unite your fellow players to bring back the sport we all know and love.
The story is interesting and corny in the best possible way. The writing clearly leans into the absurd plot and attempts to amplify it as you progress. Whether it be convincing the town that soccer is back solely because you say so or playing against toddlers to prove your point, the narrative is completely wacky. It doesn’t have universal appeal. However, I chuckled at most of the jokes and the majority of the ridiculous sidequests, and I enjoyed how the plot unraveled.
Soccer Story isn’t a hardcore RPG title by any measure. You’ll help the town via quests and upgrade your teams’ stats, but it’s simple and doesn’t require a true grind. You’ll earn or purchase upgrades for Speed, Shooting, Energy, and Strength. In my experience, the stats don’t need to be high or maxed out in order to complete the main story. I played the story on normal with a few stat improvements on the protagonist and breezed through the plot with ease. However, if you’re completing goofy side quests, you’ll definitely need to improve your stats. For example, you’ll need to hit targets around town and some will require your shooting to be at level 3 in order to complete the task.The touch RPG elements are present but not overwhelming, which clicked for me.
The gameplay in Soccer Story is also minimal and basic. As expected, players will pass, run, shoot, and slide to regain possession of the ball. No magical advantage for our protagonist, just good ol’ arcade fun. Even when I was losing, I enjoyed the elementary gameplay and the four-minute matches. Although I enjoyed the soccer matches, players will spend the majority of the time assisting the town rather than actually playing. Granted, there is a quick match option in the main menu with an option for four-player local multiplayer, but I wish there were a bit more balance in the main single-player plot.
In terms of visual design, Soccer Story reminds me of older entries in the Pokémon series, with charming sprites and character avatars. Though the title forges its own identity as the story unfolds, there’s no denying the wave of nostalgia when launching the game. I do wish the soundtrack were a bit more energetic to match the action on screen. When I think of soccer, I don’t think of relaxing or chill, which is what this soundtrack offers. It didn’t take away from the overall experience, but it did feel completely out of place.
I truly enjoyed my time with Soccer Story. Although the soundtrack was blah and I craved more in-game matches, everything else hit its goal. With a comedic and amusing story, entertaining RPG elements, and nostalgic visual design — there’s a lot of exploration and fun to be had.
Soccer Story is out November 29 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, Xbox Game Pass, and PC for $19.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Soccer Story.