Sports games have witnessed quite some evolution ever since their inception from the days of the Atari. Then came the FIFA, NBA and WWE (if you count wrestling as a ‘proper’ sport), and the rest was history. The monopoly of the market of sports games by these big AAA releases meant that there was little playing field for other sports games, unless they featured some added unique features for the sake of innovation. That marked the birth of Rocket League, inspiring a generation of indie developers to re-design the genre, creating newer (and wackier) entries into the genre. Graveball is one of the few ‘abominations’ inspired by the ‘changes’ in the genre.
The game is multiplayer only, with the only possible singleplayer being practice versus bots. There is an option to create a multiplayer lobby, and then invite your friends for a game, or simply queue up for a Quick Play, which puts you up against a random guy as your opponent. Sadly, whenever I tried queueing for a game, the wait times were insanely long. There is a bar on the right side of the screen that shows the matches being played, or rather, the lobbies being hosted where you can jump into for playing the game, which mostly showed a few games played by a few of my Steam friends.
The game does allow you to create a lobby and invite a friend over for a game, which looks to be currently the most viable option for playing the game. If you want to start a game against AI for practice, then yup – that’s possible too.
The game is basically soccer – except more violent. You control a team of three goblins who play the game with the opponent’s team consisting of three goblins each. There is a ball at the center of the game board. You kick the ball into the opponent’s “score area”, a narrow stretch where the ball needs to stay for a couple of seconds for you to score a “goal”. There are other creative ways to score too, and that’s where the game starts being wacky and creative. You can just wack down opponent goblins with your goblin to score. Well, not just one, you have to ensure their entire team is out cold. The goblins are armed, and they can easily throw that, or use that to tackle opponents. Take out every enemy goblin, and that’s that – an easy point for your team!
Sounds simple right? It isn’t, because your opponent can tackle your goblins too. That makes it harder, but not when you can suicide, turn into ghosts, and sprint over to the other side of the field like you are some long lost cousin of Usain Bolt. Use all sorts of dirty tricks to keep the ball inside the enemy’s goal area, and you score. Greater your score, you win. In case you want some easy points, but want to adopt to do it the peaceful way, you can just pick up the ball and throw it inside a small “skull circle”. The ball can be kicked, as well as transported by hands from one end to another. That’s the beauty of it – you can pretend you are playing rugby, or soccer, or both.
The AI is another of the better points for the game, clustering near you and trying to get tackles. Even at normal difficulty, the AI can prove to be a tough nut to crack, getting an early lead and never giving you a chance to score. The AI is not only trained to score, it is also trained to keep your goblins down.
While it may seem like an inconsistent feature, being able to change between goblins could have been a feature that might have made the game a bit easier to play.
The game features several unlockable cosmetics for your goblin that need to be unlocked from “coins” unlocked by playing the game. Customization is an unique feature, but isn’t something that affects your performance in-game. But then again, who dislikes a Halloween party where you get to play ball? Coins are earned both from multiplayer games versus real people as well as practice games versus AI. The “coins” add a currency system which increases the replayability, so it’s definitely desirable (also since the cosmetics here are not monetized).
There’s a handy tutorial as well, for people starting out, and who need some guidance before being mashed up like anything online. It’s really recommended to finish the tutorial before you venture out into the game, or risk seeing the “You Lose” screen. Every. Goddamn. Time.
Audio and Music
The game’s main track is a typical funeral dirge – which is kind of expected, especially since the entire game is played in a grave. The woeful music does nothing to reflect the actual fun you can get by beating the crap out of your friend’s goblins and watching him rage like anything, though.
The announcer, who makes the announcements in game, like “Kill”, “Double Kill”, and “Score” sounds like the patriarch of the big haunted mansion which hosts the big graveyard where the game is being played, but he does a pretty good job while he’s at it. There’s nothing better than eliminating the enemy team and scoring a point, and see the announcer declare it at the top of his lungs.
Graphics and Performance
Sadly, the graphics don’t manage to sketch an impression on the player’s mind. The forgettable graphics is shadowed by the wacky gameplay, which is the prime feature around which game was modeled.
The game was tested on the following specifications :
CPU : Ryzen 5 2600
GPU : GTX 660
RAM : 16 GB DDR4
The game ran smoothly at 60 fps, but had occasional drops to 40-45 fps for no apparent reason. When I decided to drop settings to stop those drops, I found out that the settings screen offered little customization. This is a part of the game that requires some love, that too urgently.
Worth getting only if you want to play it with friends, or versus bots. Otherwise, the game’s only worth getting during a Steam sale when it’s heavily discounted, that too if you have extra cash to spare. The game is pretty barebones in its present state, and needs quite some improvements before people actually decide to spend money (and time) on the game.