A Bad Game of Football by Studio Gauntlet
A Bad Game of Football is a multiplayer-focused football combat game coupled with a rather brave choice of control scheme: real-time strategy. Featuring a comedic tone and cartoon-styled aesthetics, A Bad Game of Football is clear about its irreverent take on the sport. It’s also very focused on its goal of providing multiplayer shenanigans; single-player is explicitly ruled out beyond a basic training mode.
What first struck me when I launched the game was the relative purity of the experience (or, more cynically, its bare-bones nature). Options include the ability to change the primary and secondary colors of your team (for both away and home kits) and little more. A pair of game modes are available: training and online play. The developers are sharply honest about the former; it is not a selling point and is primarily there for players to learn the game offline.
I found the training mode to be much as advertised; the AI is particularly rudimentary and has an amusing habit of taking the ball into a corner and guarding it there. I often found the enemy players would just leave me alone if I kept my distance; initiative isn’t baked into the AI, it seems.
That said, it does provide a solid way to learn the basics; the RTS control scheme is an interesting choice that makes for a strange combination of slow-paced action and a need to give all parts of the pitch constant attention. Each player can be selected individually, or they can be grouped up and given orders collectively. I think waypoints would vastly improve this system, allowing for queued-up commands that would deepen the strategy considerably.
Bloody Good (or Good and Bloody)
In addition to issuing movement orders, the players can be instructed to kick directly or loft the ball into the air. On top of these basic commands, there are three coaches that offer special abilities, ranging from violent tackles to turning the ball into a fiery projectile. These abilities draw on an energy bar that is also depleted by calling in players to replace casualties. Energy can be replenished by collecting refills on the pitch.
The game shakes things up with pitch options; a standard mode allows for fairly familiar football, (with two teams of three players). The twist here is a rather muscular referee that has a vision cone: foul someone within that cone, and the referee will hunt your player down and beat them senseless. Violence is the order of the day in this particular variety of football! Another pitch drops the referee in favor of mines being deployed throughout the game, causing even more destruction.
Bloody Good Fun
The visual style here is exaggerated and colorful with a soundtrack to match. The distorted design of the player’s bodies will likely be divisive in terms of aesthetic preferences, but it is certainly distinctive.
A Bad Game of Football offers a bold, punchy multiplayer experience that has the potential to be an amusing diversion and one that could certainly draw players back for more. The absence of single-player options beyond a training mode is a pity, but it’s clear that this is a title intended for online play. All in all, anyone looking for a relatively simple PvP football experience with some zany combat thrown in will enjoy trying to outmaneuver one another on these pitches.
A Bad Game of Football is available via Steam Early Access.
Watch the trailer for A Bad Game of Football below: