So there I was with a fresh Steam Deck in hand, ready to finally see what all the fuss was about when it came to PC gaming. Like many console gamers, I had heard the stories (that Steam was supposedly home to tens of thousands of games, in all kinds of quality) and was ready to find out for myself. But before I got to the good stuff before delving into games like Neon White, Valheim, or Frostpunk for the first time, I had to know: Does Steam have any good volleyball games?
It turns out that Steam has a lot of volleyball games. I wouldn’t use “good” to describe most of them; hot is probably a better term, which I’ve since learned from my friends who play a lot of PC games is an apt descriptor for much of what you can find on Steam. And of course the cornea has its place, but that’s not what I want from a volleyball game right now. No, I want the exhilaration of making a combo attack, the satisfaction of making a quick attack that throws my opponent off balance, and the joy of reading an attacker well enough to dig up a nail and keep the play going. When it comes to volleyball, there is no greater delight than mind games.
And you wouldn’t know, I found it. It was like a dozen games down, but I found en: Spikair Volleyball. It is an upcoming volleyball simulator that will be released in early access later this year. There’s a free demo on Steam where you can play quick games against a computer-controlled opponent that usually last between two and six minutes.
I have put over 22 hours into the demo as of this writing. It is easily my most played game on my Steam Deck.
Developed by Choc Abyss, a studio of two: Clément Chardevel and Joé Chollet, Spikair Volleyball is one of those easy to learn but hard to master games. “I wanted people to play our game,” Chollet told GameSpot. “We have little mechanics that take longer to learn. But the basics, like setting up the ball, are simple. Just press A.”
In Spikair, every match is four against four and you control all four players on your side of the pitch. Just like real-world volleyball, your goal is to make the ball hit the ground on your opponent’s side of the court with an attack, scoring a point. An attack can only start if you manage to receive the ball and successfully pass it to your setter, allowing you to then direct your setter to take the ball to the middle blocker, back receiver or outside hitter who can spike the ball. ball.
Simply pressing the required buttons in the correct order is enough to play the game, but correctly timing those buttons can change the speed of the ball, allowing you to perform more advanced attacks, such as a hard-to-block flick finisher. However, you have to be careful, because the opposite is also true: a slight timing error will lead to a bad pass or a weak attack, and a completely wrong timing will cause your players to lose the ball completely.
Chollet and Chardevel looked at many other volleyball games when designing Spikair, with 1992’s Hyper V-Ball being a primary inspiration. “[Volleyball] it’s a mind game,” Chollet said. “It’s not a sports game. It is a mind game. So, we were talking about a 6v6 vs 4v4 format, and we chose 4v4 because it was so much easier for us and because Hyper V-Ball only has four players, and it still pulled off that 6v6 indoors. [volleyball] feeling, which are all mind games: the block against the set and the attacker against the defender”.
In Spikair, there are three potential attackers to watch out for while on defense (four if you count a setter dunk, in which the setter simply throws the ball over the net instead of passing it to an attacker). But the game makes the process more complex by allowing each attacker to perform finishers in three different ways: there is a normal finisher, a short finisher, and a long finisher. Additionally, the attacker can forgo a spike to instead throw the ball over a screen in three different ways: a normal throw, a short throw, and a long throw. The attacker can also change the timing of his attack, deliberately hitting a bit early or late, not so much that he misses, but enough that the ball is hit at a different speed.
So while there are only four moves to remember on defense: screen, short catch, normal catch, and long catch, there are actually dozens of outcomes to prepare for. Your middle blocker can block, and then your back row player can stand in place to receive the ball normally, dive for the ball if it’s being spiked down or leaning short, or step back to hit. the ball if it falls. blocker or is being pinned/tilted long. And once you commit to an action, you have to wait a second before doing anything else. So you’re making split-second decisions and hoping for the best. If it looks like the opposing attacker is coming up short, for example, diving in too soon can be the difference between keeping the play going and your opponent scoring.
This largely means that your job on offense is to use your setter to trick the defense into committing to blocking the wrong attacker and then use your attackers to hit them in a spot the backline player won’t get to. weather. On defense, he is trying to use his blocker to pressure the opposing setter into rushing into a poor setup to avoid his screen and then reading the opposing hitter’s approach to properly position his backline player to receive the attack. . It’s two people trying to outdo each other in back-to-back games of Rock, Paper, Scissors, and whoever does it best (or is lucky) wins the point.
Spikair also takes a lot of inspiration from Haikyu, a very popular shonen volleyball manga/anime (which you should read/watch if you haven’t already). “The entire animation of the pickaxe, the player’s attack in our game, is based on [Haikyu’s] Ushijima,” Chollet said. “I watched the anime frame by frame and thought, ‘Okay, this is perfect,’ for a side view of Ushijima attacking.”
In Haikyu, the game in which the protagonist Shōyō Hinata faces Wakatoshi Ushijima can also be somewhat emulated in Spikair. In the Spikair demo, you can take on computer-controlled opponents on five difficulties, each pitting different teams against each other. Normal difficulty sees you play as the United States when taking on Italy, for example, while playing on Extreme has you play as Brazil and take on Poland. If you play on Final difficulty, you will play as Hinata’s team, Karasuno High, and your opponent will be Shiatorizawa from Ushijima. Bringing Ushijima to a complete halt with a well-timed block from middle blocker Kei Tsukishima feels just as rewarding in-game as it does in the manga/anime.
Currently, computer controlled opponents are all you get on Spikair. The full game is not yet available, so the demo is the only way to play. Choc Abyss plans to release the game in Early Access later this year, and with its release much more will be available, including offline PvP matches. Online multiplayer may come later, but the studio is focusing on other aspects of the game first, such as a career mode, player customization (including the option to have female players on your team), and player features.
Characteristics will inform how well each individual player on your team performs, ranging from how effectively they can finish to how much leeway they have to pull off an ideal pass. As of the demo, all Spikair players control and behave the same way, so you don’t have to worry about that extra consideration. But when it is finally added, it will no doubt create an even higher level of complexity in the sport’s mind game.
Until then, I’ll keep playing the Spikair Volleyball demo. I’m sure I’ll get to all the other games on my Steam Deck at some point, but for now, this is enough for me. Maybe I’ll jump back into Switch Sports for a while, though, so I can keep yelling at everyone that they’re playing Switch Sports Volleyball badly and need to use read lock.
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