20/01/2022

๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿ Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League | PC | Review | 8/10 | "The Smartest Way To Justify A Crap Game" ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ‘ด @SodaDrinkerPro #IndieGame #GameDev

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Snowrunner Games’ Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League contains the smartest way to justify a crap game I’ve ever seen. 

So let’s not beat around the bush: it delivers an absolutely godawful game of volleyball.

The ball physics are broken, control over your shots is non-existent, judging where you are on the court is finicky, the AI makes the same mistakes over and over again…  even the score counting is busted! When a game can’t reliably count from one to ten you know it’s got problems.

All this means the experience of playing is constant low level frustration. You will watch your player randomly serve the ball out of bounds, get the ball stuck between player and net, watch shots that are clearly in get dismissed as out, and curse whatever RNG is deciding where your shots should go.

The one small mercy is Calvero & Will Brierly’s toe-tappin’ synthwave soundtrack that gradually builds as you play and the earworm theme song. This has been lodged in my head for weeks and will not go away. I may be cursed to wander around for eternity mumbling the lyrics under my breath.

At this point it’s tempting to write off Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League as a cash-grab dashed off in an afternoon then shovelled on to Steam in the hopes its silly name will tempt punters. It should be pointed out that the ‘nudity’ is basic pink sprites and there’s not even a hint of pixelated retired man cock and/or balls, so if old dudes playing volleyball gets you going you won’t find much to enjoy here.

But, in a quietly brilliant twist, this crap volleyball game isn’t all that it first appears. Spoilers follow.

‘Quit’ the game and you’ll find yourself navigating an unfamiliar desktop. Poke around a bit in the email and you’ll discover the game’s true story. It turns out that Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League is a game made by grandfather Len Rizzo in order to try and reconnect with his game designing granddaughter.

Armed with an overpowered gaming PC, a subscription to a game design forum, and a copy of Unity, this is a game designed by a man who knows nothing about games in an attempt to try and communicate his own life story in a way younger generations might appreciate. Each opponent turns out to be a key individual from Rizzo’s life and their mid-match conversations hint at what they imparted to him.

Context is key - and knowing that the rubbish part of the game was made by a man with no design skills simply doing the best that he can makes the whole thing work, By the time the credits roll Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball League has achieved a surprising amount of pathos, particularly when you realize you’ve been secretly playing as the daughter and Len Rizzo has been dispatched to a care home for suspected dementia.

I mean, I still strongly suspect that this whole story was retrofitted on top of a terrible volleyball game as an attempt to excuse its many, many faults, but hey, it works.

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