Switch version tested
Review code provided
Hey, you there. Do you fancy yourself a gamer? Do you often catch yourself daydreaming of being in the championship finals and landing the final kill to take home the title for your elite squad of E-Sports titans? Yes, well this game is not for you. In fact, after some long hours plodding along with ESport Manager I’ve been hard-pressed to find exactly who this mistitled game is actually for.
On the surface, ESM appears as a harmless Roblox inspired spin-off. The title and description lead the player to believe that hidden in the lines of code is a deep strategy sim meant to replicate the frenetic frenzy that is Esports competition. From the outset you choose which variation of the game you want to play, choosing between FPS and MOBA. Unfortunately, outside of some minor tactics (more to come), the variation difference offers little in the way of new experiences. In fact, this selection screen was the peak excitement to be had. The description would have you believe that you will take charge of a ragtag team of gamers as you level up and work way through the tournament scene onto the national stage. While this does exist in a sense the game itself is a different animal altogether.
Once your gameplay style has been selected, the game immediately slaps you in the face with its busted, clunky controls. The exclusion of touch controls is extremely unfortunate as you are left to navigate a menu with a thin outline as the only indication you are on a button. The absence of any sound queues is just as concerning. While obviously built for the PC the controls alone are enough to sink the title. As the title suggest this is at its core a management sim. Inherently, given this, the gameplay is centred around systems buried in menus. Unforgivable flaw alert…you have next to no impact on the actual game. Outside of selecting lanes for players to occupy or which perk(s) to assign, you as a manager do little in the way of making any decisions that will contribute to your teams’ play. Instead, ESM is more a College RA sim than Esports. You spend your gameplay time: making sure they eat, sleep, exercise, practice, etc. If that wasn’t enough the voxel-based graphics leave you feeling as though you are playing a shovelware version of the sims dumped into the marketplace.
Visually ESM is as basic as they come. The voxel-based cubed graphic style does little to shake the cheap, asset flip feel the gameplay otherwise instils. While colourful and bright the game lacks any real detail. Yes, the style does not lend itself to be a visual powerhouse, but many have gone this route and maintained a look that evokes more of an emotional response than flat planed blocks with zero texture or shading. The lack of any real visual flair could even be looked past if it were not for the broken controls and the equally lousy sound design.
Audio feedback is a tool that has been used since the invention of digital menus. These little sounds while on the surface not important serve a vital function, letting you know your command was received. Unfortunately, ESM omitted these sounds, mixed with the games lacklustre looping soundtrack and penchant for frame skips leaves the player confused at times wondering if the game has locked up. The actually “gameplay” sounds do not stray far from the stock sound bundle that was used in concert with the other assets being flipped with this one.
Esport Manager, is it a timeless work of art bursting at the seams with philosophical questions challenging the user to better themselves as a person? No. But classifying it as a game is a tough call as well. By the time you have finished a play session with ESM, you at best have a working idea of how bad AI reacts to limited influence and a good night’s sleep. The time spent navigating the busted menus is time that could have been better spent surfing the Eshop for an actual game worth playing. The inherent promise in the title alone is a sin, but the overall failure of the game as a whole makes this one a must skip for anyone thinking about starting their career as the next Esports superstar.
TBG Score: 2/10
Platform: Steam, Mobile, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 27/08/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: RPG, Simulation, Strategy
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Download link: eShop