Football is never just about the game, so welcome behind the scenes of the beautiful game. Think being a manager is easy? Football Drama will tell you differently.
Created by Open Lab Games, based in Florence, Italy. They have created a philosophical but hardened reality of today’s modern game. Think of it as a gritty Football Manager card game with a twist of the dark truth in football.
You are Rocco Galliano, your role? Manager of Calchester United, which is owned by a wealthy Billionaire in the top tier of football, the Thiefa League… You can see where this is going. Your job is to keep your head on your shoulders by keeping everyone sweet and, most of all, winning football matches.
Your opponent in today’s game is everyone. Not only do you come up against the opposing team on the pitch, but you’ll also encounter the press, the fans, the chairman, the love interest, and your beloved cat. Football Drama keeps you thinking about your next move, there are multiple ways you can proceed through your game. One wrong move can have an impact BOTH on a single game and potentially the whole journey.
Depending on the decisions you make with any group, you will receive either Karma or Kaos. With this in mind, you will be issued cards that assist you in the game. Before each game, you get the option to pick which cards you want to use. If you want a successful footballing season, you will want to keep an eye out on who you’re playing next in the league and swap out the cards you think are better suited for that opponent. However, there are multiple ways you can turn a match and sometimes, it may just be out of your control.
What you also need to be mindful of is how hard you attack and defend in the 90 minutes. You will need to think methodically while you are in possession of the ball. Taking risks when the opposition is fully focused will likely end up losing you the ball and annoying your fans, as well as the co-commentator. However, even pushing too hard can leave your team burnt out and unable to making that blow to finish off the game with a quality strike.
You have no direct control of players as such. Unlike Football Manager, where you are able to select a line up, this has no team sheet to select from. You run the team and based on your Karma or Kaos you earnt, the cards you run, and what you select in game, pretty much determines the result.
After every match, regardless of your result, you will speak to the press and the chairman. The press will ask you how you did depending on if you used any cards or not. This became quite generic as the game went on. Depending on what you put back to the press, they leave you with a tabloid-style response after. During my initial play through, I never really understood the results of the press apart from that of other interactions. I felt the game never explained to me what the idea about these interactions where all about, apart from awarding me more Karma or Kaos points.
After your report from the press, you will speak to the Chairman and, like the press, you get the same canned responses. Which meant, he would always threaten me with the chop, but went on to tell me I was doing well! Additionally, you will come across some story dialogue as the game goes on. It introduces you to new persons of interest that give the game a bit more meat and soon enough you start to get invested in what I must say, a very interesting story. Through these interactions, you have the opportunity to gain special items that you can use later on in the game. These items will either aid you in your rise to the top or collapse your reign at the helm in an embarrassing mess. The variety is good, as it stops the game becoming stale and repetitive. The variety continues through multiple playthroughs and should give you enough motivation to have a few more goes, especially with the alternative endings.
The game looks great with its unique art style, in particular the cards having wonderful humour throughout. The game’s art direction itself really shows off the dark and gritty side of the football world they are trying to portray, with its darker pastel colours used throughout. The audio is also a prominent feature, with its good quality of traditional football sounds you would regularly here on match days and the background music in game as well. The game audio gives you enough to just notice it, but not to become a distraction.
Overall, the whole direction that OpenLab went for is really interesting. The card aspect of the game is really interesting and it can influence not only the matches, but the general gameplay. However, I found the matches frustrating to play and watch, even though I won most of mine. They are sometimes slow, even though they can be sped up, but the whole function of trying to push the attack or hold the defence based upon various outputs really takes the football side out of it. If the game could have the cards of the player and the AI set out beforehand, with both parties dealing cards throughout the game, I think it would focus on the gritty nature of the game much better. My only other criticism is that there are a lot of canned responses. Maybe some more dialogues and options when talking to the other parties in the game would make it maybe more interactive.
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