After my terrible showmanship in Pro Evolution Soccer 2018, I thought things could only get better when things switched up for a more arcadey style of soccer with Tower Studios and Combo Breaker’s Sociable Soccer.
Continuing with my 2017 coverage of gamescom, I was invited to see the next iteration of the long-running 90s series at the British developers booth, which was built to appear as a little slice of England with a pub and plenty of beer. With beer in hand, I joined game designer Jon Hare for a friendly game of Sociable Soccer.
For those who don’t know, Sociable Soccer is an arcadey, very fast-paced football spinoff and is somewhat a spiritual successor to Jon’s previous games series, Sensible Soccer from the 90s for the Commodore Amiga.
Built on the trope of easy to play, hard to master, focusing on simplicity, speed and accuracy. Playing was simple enough, but getting my head around the fast-paced nature of tackling, passing and shooting indeed went down just as majestic as a lead balloon, meaning my football skills were just as a terrible as they were with PES.
Nonetheless, I continued to strive and enjoy the beautiful game. The controls were simple enough. Designed for controllers, you can move swiftly across the field and make quick instant passes to teammates. Should the ball stray far from your feet towards the opposition, you can then take field possession, push ahead and seize the ball by tackling to keep the advantage - these were moves that Jon made.
I, on the other hand, trudged forward, failing at my strategies, taking shots on goal and making a bit of mockery by receiving not one, but two red cards in the space of three short games. Football doesn’t like me. Fortunately, with each match lasting three minutes, I knew I had room to improve.
With each game being very short, it’s a perfect game to hop in, play a few matches and hop off. Outside of the casual friendly modes, you’ve also got some serious in-depth competitive modes - these being the standout for fans of the original.
With the inclusion of a Boss Mode, which sees you become a manager working up the league and becoming the top boss of your chosen team. This mode itself, acts as the campaign, offering hundreds of hours of gameplay challenging you to win trophies in real-world football leagues, cups and tournaments.
With over 1,000 teams, each with detailed stats on attack, defence and movability, there’s undoubtedly someone's favourite out there, even if not licensed, you still know your team colours. On top of this, you can also manage your team’s formations and tactics for the perfect play.
By the end, after losing every match, scoring two flukey goals, it wasn’t for me. However, for those looking for that next arcade football fix, or if you’re a fan of the original Amiga series, then no doubt about it, Sociable Soccer is worth playing.
The game is currently on Steam Early Access and includes local multiplayer (online coming later), Boss Mode and casual and competitive single player.