Need to know

What is it? A narrative and sports management game
Developer: Open Lab Games
Publisher: Open Lab Games
Release date: January 26, 2023
Reviewed on:  64-Bit Windows 10, Nvidia GeForce GTX-970, Intel i7-4790K, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer? No
Link: Official site (opens in new tab)

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

You take on the role of Joan ‘Jeanne D’Arc’ Galliano, a coach for a women’s roller derby team who have moved into the same house together. The game is split between the hijinks of keeping your team, plus their personal lives, in order and winning matches. It’s part management game, part visual novel; though one that doesn’t seem to have any branching paths. The linearity isn’t a problem, but it means the writing and small dialogue choices have to do the bulk of the work in convincing you that your particular style of coaching is working. It doesn’t always manage. When it does, however, you’ll be drawn into the role of Joan, feeling responsible for the women under your care and stressing out over how to speak 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’re also worried about being respected and trusted. This role gives the narrative an interesting angle that made me think about choices beyond trying to get on everyone’s good side. Sometimes I would be too strict and lose a player’s trust or spend too much time flattering them, failing to gain their respect. 


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By nmybx

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