Panic is a publisher that I trust: it is the published that helped release iconic games Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game. Panic is also the company behind Playdate, that little yellow handheld console with a crank on the side. So when Playdate decides to publish something, it’s worth taking note. In this case, the game is Despelote, a unique slice of life adventure about community, being young, and the magic of soccer.
It’s 2001, and Ecuador has nearly qualified for the World Cup. Julián is a young boy at the time, living a carefree like in Quito. The excitement can be felt, coming off his friends and the community as a whole. Spend time getting into mischief, exploring, getting to know people, and kicking a soccer ball around. The soccer part of the game is physics-based, and is played in a first-person perspective.
The publisher describes it as “a deeply transportive love letter to a particular time and place, told in such a wry, charming way that it manages to feel universal at the same time.” The game shows how the city changes as Ecuador becomes closers and closer to qualifying for the World Cup.
Despelote is rooted in the culture of Ecuador and strives to accurately represent the time and location the game takes place in. All voice acting is in Spanish, and ambient sounds have been recorded in Ecuador. The game’s look is based on real photos taken in Quito that have been used for textures on buildings and more.
On a related note, today it was announced that Despelote is one of Tribeca Festival’s 2023 official Game Selections alongside A Highland Song, Chants of Sennaar, Goodbye Volcano High, Nightscape, Stray Gods, and The Expanse: A Telltale Series.
Developed by Julián Cordero and Sebastián Valbuena and published by Panic, Despelote will be released for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series in early 2024.