To find this week’s demo, I dived into Steam’s new releases. In particular, Wednesday Basketball by Le Studio Des Ténèbres stood out from a crowd of fantasy RPG and horror games promising a different experience. The story is as follows, every Wednesday a small-town basketball club comprising a variety of randos meets to play basketball, and we learn a little bit more about the players’ lives. It’s mundane and low-key, and that’s not a bad thing.
The game is split into two sections: basketball games and pre/post-game scenes. Basketball games are straightforward but effective. Each player getting one movement and one action per turn and the idea is to, well, shoot baskets. It is basketball after all.
It’s a little more complicated than that, fortunately. All players have always changing strengths and weaknesses, and teams are predetermined, which forced me to try new things. On top of that, the number of players varies, changing the dynamic from game to game.
I had some gripes with these encounters. Namely, they feel a tad long. Whether most actions succeed is based on luck which may draw things out, and the players move a tiny bit slower than I would like. Skipping matches is possible with a click of a button, but I would have liked a fast-forward button to speed things up instead.
Overall though, I really enjoyed them! I think the game does the perfect of ramping up the complexity of games, and I ended up getting really into the matches. They were just the perfect part of relaxing and engaging. While the results of the matches didn’t affect the story in any way I can tell, this was by far my favorite part of the demo.
I have mixed feelings about the story portion. The story has passion but I don’t always agree with the choices the game dev made. For example, there’s an aunt (who’s a member of the club) that enrolls her plus-size twelve-year-old niece so she can lose weight. To be clear, I do I think the game devs hearts were in the right place as the coach rightfully pushes against the aunt’s motives. That said, I am a plus-size woman, and I found the story lacking nuance, and the fatphobia unpleasant. Then there’s the fact this aunt is a cop, and she’s struggling with the corruption in the department and her role in it…and well let’s just say she’s my least favorite character.
What I am trying to say is, this story goes to uncomfortable places, doesn’t pull any punches, and is not afraid to paint characters in a negative light. I don’t know this is necessarily a flaw though, which puts me in a weird position as a reviewer. It’s certainly not my cup of tea, but I can see an audience for it.
It’s worth noting holding the writing does have one technical issue–the translation. The game is originally in French, the English translation is passable, but it feels sloppy and rushed. Some of the dialogue feels very stilted and some it flat out makes no sense. I found it immersion-breaking at times, but it didn’t totally ruin the experience for me.
All in all, this game is a mixed bag, and one I’m honestly not sure I’ll revisit. It’s a breath of fresh air, and I am interested in where the story goes for the characters. At the same time, there are so many games out there and I have so little time. If in a world with a smaller indie market, this game would stand out, but it just lacks a wow factor for me. At this time there is something about the small and quaintness of the world I like. I would like to check it out a little further for the right price point. So we’ll see.
Janette does far too much in her spare time. Not only does she write Princess of Previews(formerly Purveyor of Previews), she just finished The Geekly Grind Podcast Talking Mons, which she encourages you to check out. IF that wasn’t enough, she very rarely appears as a guest on The Ink N’ Paint Club. Outside of that, she spends her time somewhere between a basic white girl and anime trash, though always passionate about indie games.