Behold The Kickmen is an incredibly accurate representation of what soccer is, if it was described to you in a foreign language, from space. Now, I don’t claim to be a sports enthusiast. I used to play football and basketball when I was younger, but those days are long behind me. Occasionally I’ll dip my toes into an NBA 2K or an NHL 20XX, but I can’t say I’ve followed those sports in a long time. I suspect Dan Marshall, developer of Behold The Kickmen, is in a similar boat with soccer.
When I arrived at the main menu, I was presented with three choices. I could start a career, jump into a quick play game, or try the tutorial. I opted to go for quick play, so I could figure the mechanics out as I went. That’s when the personality of Behold The Kickmen really started to expose itself. I received an incredibly smarmy, yet accurate pop up notification saying that I should probably try the career mode first, as it slowly would teach me mechanics over time. I complied and attempted to start a career, and was greeted by another message with an even thicker coat of smarmy-ness drizzled all over it.
Fine, I’ll play your damn tutorial.
Oh, I see what we’re doing here.
After my lovely experience with the tutorial, I was finally ready to jump into a career mode. I was given the opportunity to rename my team, and so Flankstank United was born. I was also given the chance to rename my star player, but I let him be.
So there I was, ready to play some soccer, except wait, Behold The Kickmen suddenly became a visual novel. Star player, Joey Flash, had some demons that his bitter rival Pedro kept taunting him about. Meanwhile, the coach of Flanksteak United seems to know less than I do about soccer, which to my knowledge is a requirement of being a coach. My goofy soccer game turned into a soap opera in an instant, and I couldn’t have been happier.
After the drama died down temporarily, I was able to play what seemed more and more like a mini-game in this entire package, soccer. Or some version of soccer I suppose. Remember when I said Behold The Kickmen was an accurate representation of soccer? I lied. Sure, there’s a ball and two goals, but I don’t think that actual soccer is played on a circular field. Nor do I think the “offside” rule just randomly occurs mid game punishing a played for being too far to the left. But hey, I’m not a soccer fan so I can’t say for sure.
For all the jokes and guffaws, Behold The Kickmen actually has some interesting mechanics. For instance, there’s a combo meter on screen at all times that accounts for passes, shots and tackles. You keep the chain going and eventually finish the combo off by scoring, or as the game calls it, having “Done a goal.” Finishing the combo grants you cash, and cash is key to growing your team.
In between matches and soap opera segments, you can take your hard earned cash and spend it on upgrades for various aspects of your team. Whether or not those upgrades actually affect gameplay is a question I have to ask, because I don’t entirely trust this game. But I hope at least one of the upgrades works, because when you start out, your players run painfully too slow and I would very much like that to change.
You can also unlock abilities like passing and sprinting (yes those are abilities) in career mode as well as things like advanced tackling techniques and being able to control the ball mid flight. You can also edit a 4-4-2. which I’m sure means something in real soccer, but once again, I don’t trust this game.
Behold the Kickmen may not be a hyper-realistic simulation of the world’s biggest sport, but rather a perfectly fine arcade style soccer game with a great sense of humor. It doesn’t have any multiplayer which is a little disappointing, but isn’t any worse of a game without it. The career and story mode seem to be the main draw thus far, and the writing is funny enough that I’m more than willing to stick it out till the end to see how it pans out.