Genre(s): Party, Arcade, Sports, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 06/04/2023
A code was provided for review purposes
Rally your Pals!
Volley Pals is a simple volleyball-inspired party game. As someone who enjoys playing volleyball in real life, I was eager to give this game a shot. Did the game spike its way into my heart? Find out in this Rapid Review.
One thing to note about Volley Pals is that there is no story whatsoever. While this is not something I look for in local multiplayer titles, there was no introductory cutscene or any aspect relating to the story that made the game feel special. This has little impact on my overall perception of the game. However, had the game implemented a more stylized experience, I may have enjoyed it more.
Similarly, the menu screens are not stylized either. While this was not a large issue, this further contributed to the lack of originality that had become prevalent even within minutes of playing.
Though the lack of identity did not matter much for the thematic elements, since the theming was underwhelming, I felt as though the game truly needed to impress me with the gameplay to engage me fully. Unfortunately, while there are some interesting components in the aggregate, I could not find that originality in Volley Pals.
Time to Set Your Standards
The first reason the game felt a bit lacklustre came from the movement mechanics. Simply, my main character could only move and jump. Though the game’s simplistic nature could be a selling point, I found that only being able to move and jump left me feeling underwhelmed. A major draw to volleyball in real life comes from precise timing and coordination that comes from passing among a team. While passing is possible in Volley Pals, the game does not encourage combination plays because there is no way to spike the ball. This system made every point very similar.
Additionally, the lack of angular or power level controls prevented me from having much of an impact on where the ball went. This diminished the amount of strategy I felt the game brought. While I could adjust my character’s position to influence the ball’s movement, the mechanic overall was lacking. Similarly, I found it very easy to gauge the trajectory of where the ball would go, even before my opponent interacted with it. While of course, clarity is integral to a game, especially a multiplayer game, I rarely needed to think quickly about situations.
Though the minute-to-minute gameplay did not require much thinking, there was a surprising amount of depth that came with the stages. The stages in Volley Pals were surprisingly well-designed. In one stage, I could control the height of the volleyball net, whereas in another, I used low gravity to jump over the net entirely and interfere with my opponents from their side of the net. Each of these unique stages made the game just that little more enjoyable, especially since the characters did not have much depth.
Another great component of Volley Pals is how easy it is to pick up and learn for new players. While this basically means that it does not have the depth I was looking for, the simple nature and clear objective make the barrier to entry practically nonexistent.
At the same time, the lack of depth and the lack of a traditional campaign mode make single-player content quite dry. While many party games struggle to engage players in single-player, Volley Pals struggles in the same way. I could play the game against a computer, but since there was already a lack of technical prowess required, the game failed to feel rewarding against them.
Moreover, the game only features one level of computer. While these opponents did a decent job at holding their own, they were also not perfect. If two computer-controlled players were on the same team, they would often not spread out, becoming practically stacked as they went for the ball. This made victories feel somewhat less rewarding too, as it felt like there were clearly some strategies that could be used by more advanced computer players.
Staging and Presentation
In addition to the gameplay, I was impressed by the amount of customization. While I already mentioned the gameplay-oriented components of the stages, each of the locales looked distinct and kept me interested in the game visually. While the menu designs were not particularly charming, there were various character skins for me to explore to spice things up between matches. The background and player variety were nice. The backgrounds were charming, too, often having some simple moving parts that did not take away from the gameplay.
Moreover, while these tracks were often simple, Volley Pals included some decent music that set the theme for each location and kept my interest. Though these tracks are nothing overly fantastic, they more than served their purpose and contributed to the unique components of each stage.
Overall, while I had some fun with Volley Pals, I do not think it is a perfect game. The lack of complexity and depth made me lose interest more quickly than I should have. However, the game is designed to be a party game. The simplicity behind the game makes it easy for anyone to pick up and play. Plus, the varied stages are neat, especially the first few times I experimented with them.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3 out of 5
You can purchase Volley Pals on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.