Soccer Story, developed by Panic Barn, unabashedly takes inspiration from the critically successful sports RPG, Golf Story. Their similarities are undeniable, but the quality of each is separated by more than just the difference in sports. While Soccer Story delivers on presentation, it lacks the challenge and comical tone it strives so hard for, and players looking for more than tedious quests and surface level commentary will be disappointed.
The game begins with the downfall of soccer as the world knows it. After the most popular soccer tournament concludes with an explosive ending that damages the field and the players’ spirits, an evil soccer corporation known as Soccer Inc. takes the sport over. And thus, the player’s journey to bring back the love and care for the sport initiates, and the game’s issues become more apparent.
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The biggest problem the sports RPG Soccer Story faces is its core game loop. The story is split into two main sections: exploring the open-world and competing in soccer matches. However, the open-world dominates most of the playtime. In this, the player will collect and complete missions to convince residents to go back to playing their favorite sport.
A majority of these quests, whether they be side quests or mainline quests, involve running from one location to another to find or kick the ball into something. Once completing that, the player will then be told to go do the same thing, but in another location. It’s a rinse-and-repeat formula that not only stains the granular moments of the game, but the main narrative and competitive soccer matches as well.
There are brief moments where the RPG brings some creative ideas to its puzzle designs, such as beating up mushrooms with specific combos found from billboards around a town, but they are too spread out to justify the amount of mindless content that surrounds it. A potential…