Must know

What is it? A narrative and sports management game
Developer: Open Lab Games
Publisher: Open Lab Games
Date of publication: January 26, 2023
Judged by: 64-bit Windows 10, Nvidia GeForce GTX-970, Intel i7-4790K, 16 GB RAM
multiplayer? no
Link: Official site (opens in new tab)

Anyone who knows me would be surprised to discover that I’ve never actually played roller derby. Violence on wheels? Seems like my thing. Fortunately, Roller Drama has come to offer me not only a tantalizing taste of the sport itself, but the drama and camaraderie that surrounds it. When it’s not being addressed by its own UI flaws or inscrutable puzzles, Roller Drama skates on its charming characters, art style, and the almost excruciating responsibility of being a team coach.

You take on the role of Joan ‘Jeanne D’Arc’ Galliano, a coach of a women’s roller derby team who have moved into the same house together. The game is split between the hijinks to keep your team, plus their personal lives, in order and win matches. It’s part management game, part visual novel; although one that appears to have no branching paths. The linearity isn’t an issue, but it means the writing and small dialogue choices should do most of the work in convincing you that your particular style of coaching is working. It doesn’t always work out. However, if that’s the case, you’re drawn to the role of Joan, feel responsible for the women in your care, and worry about how to talk to them.

(Image credit: Open Lab Games)

Relationships in games are usually defined by simply wanting characters to like you, but in Roller Drama, as a coach, you also worry about being respected and trusted. This role gives the story an interesting angle that made me think about choices beyond trying to get on everyone’s good side. Sometimes I was too strict and lost a player’s trust or spent too much time flattering him without winning his respect.

Jamming



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By wy9m6

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