I’ve been struggling with Football Drama. It’s a small indie title by Open Lab Games, released on Steam, iOS & Android. The premise is an interesting one. It’s a satirical take on Football management inspired by the vast amounts of literature on the subject and the narratives that come from it. This isn’t the only way that Football Drama stands apart from its more serious cousins in Fifa or Pro Evolution Soccer and so on. Unlike in the billy big times, the matches in Football Drama are turn-based and include a card system to help you turn events in your favour.
Outside of matches, the game presents you with some text dialogue that you click through before occasionally presenting you with choices. These choices affect the cards you get, influence results on the pitch and may, or may not, get you sacked from your job. Rocco Galliano, your character, chats to his cat, the press, the owner and other characters that crop up. The matches themselves are turn-based.You try to balance control & risk by pushing the buttons, advance your team up the pitch and attempt to score a goal. Take too many risks and you’ll put too much strain on your team and you won’t be able to capitalise on your opportunities. Take too few risks and you’ll not create any opportunities to win.
In addition to this, you’ve got the card system. The cards allow you to influence events as manager by giving instructions to your team.You can change formation, give tactical instructions like using the offside trap and so on. You can use 5 per game and you earn them by winning matches and progressing through the narrative. Rather than being entirely random, the cards you receive are affected by your Karma & Kaos stats which change depending on the choices you make. This means that there is plenty of replay-ability to the game.
Football Drama is beautifully stylised in its presentation. Forgoing the temptation to go for realistic visuals, they’ve gone instead for something much more striking. Everything looks handcrafted, as if it was painted on a canvas, scanned and then added to the game. I’m not really sure how to describe the style, my art knowledge is severely lacking, however I’m absolutely confident that I like it. It’s striking but with muted colours. It’s interesting and detailed but minimalist at the same time. It’s really well balanced and it works with the simple animation used.
The trouble is, the game just doesn’t interest me. Balancing control & risk through the turn based matches, watching the little dots move along just wasn’t drawing me in the way I wanted. I was quite engaged for 4 or 5 games and then I just wasn’t interested anymore. Everything worked as intended as far as I can tell. I didn’t encounter any bugs and nothing felt particularly out of place. Nothing inexplicable happened. It didn’t annoy me so I can’t really explain why I didn’t feel like continuing. I haven’t played many games with card mechanics in them, perhaps that is a factor.
It just wasn’t for me I guess. Which is a shame because it is a well put together game. The developers have done a fantastic job with it and I’d love to be able to recommend it fully, but I can’t. Definitely check it out, check the trailers and give it a punt if you’re interested in it at all. Hopefully you’ll love it more than me.