When a review is marked as ‘in progress’, it is done on the basis that enough time has been invested to obtain solid impressions even though we have been unable to beat it. This may be down to an extreme length or brutal difficulty, but either way it is a title that has overcome us… at least for a period of time.
Games marked as such will receive the usual review treatment, plus some additional footage to help give you a general idea of what to expect. These games will likely be finished at some point, and the review will be updated accordingly. As such, keep checking back if you want to keep a track of our full final thoughts when we have them!
Many thanks to Thunderful for the review code.
The last golf game I played was Pebble Beach Golf Links on the Sega Saturn. It was an FMV Golf title featuring the legendary Craig Stadler, who provided some rather cheesy dialogue to accompany the solid golfing. The first and only other golfing title I played was Putt and Putter on the Sega Game Gear.
So yeah, I’m hardly a connoisseur of the genre.
There’s something about Golf titles that makes me unable to drum up any kind of enthusiasm for them. Even the critically acclaimed Golf Story is a title I haven’t played and likely never will. But Cursed to Golf seemed different. It intrigued me. So, after the game received exceptional praise, I decided to give it a blast.
Will this convert me into a hardcore golfer?
Well, no. But it is a lot of fun.
THE REAL BATTLE STARTS RIGHT NOW
Our squeaky voiced protagonist, dubbed ‘The Champ’ is on track to finish his eighteenth hole after performing exceptionally well. After some well placed hits (also doubling as an in-game tutorial), he is ready to get the ball back to its home. Not even the bad weather can spoil things now.
Except it does.
Lightning strikes and fries him on the spot (bringing back memories of Entertaining Father Stone, for the Father Ted fans out there) with fatal results. And so he is sent to the afterlife where he needs to complete the Sisyphean task of playing through eighteen holes for the rest of eternity. Every time our Champ fails (and he is very much set up to fail), he will be sent back to the start and all the courses will change. Only the prospect of freedom should he complete every hole encourages him to keep going,
It’s a nice little spin of on the rock-pushing myth, and its simplicity works in the game’s favour. The storyline allows the game to both justify its roguelike nature, which in turn helps the game become far more replayable than if it just had 18 premade courses. You’re not alone, either, as you’ll meet a few other professional golfers on your journey that all have strong and unique personalities. Rather than acting as antagonists, they’re really in the same predicament as yourself but have resigned themselves to their fate. They still try and get out, but they have been stuck here for a long time. They offer you advice and help as you progress through the game and I found them all, especially The Scotsman, to be rather endearing.
THINK YOU CAN GET IT INSIDE MINE?
As alluded to previously, Cursed to Golf is a roguelike golf game. There are eighteen randomly designed courses set across multiple beautiful biomes. Courses are typically labyrinthine courses that weave in on themselves and often have multiple routes you can take to the flag – and sometimes even multiple flags too! usually roguelike games suffer from having chunks that are far too generic to make them stand out from one another, but there are several things the game has in its favour that help mitigate that feeling of repetition.
First of all, not only does each biome have its own unique look, but they also contain their own hazards too. The first biome tends to have tighter spaces with plenty of fans and dynamite boxes that can be used for shortcuts, whereas the second desert biome is covered in sands and has plenty of spikes that will cost you an extra turn if you puncture your ball on them. Each area has its own identity to make it feel unique, rather than just a simple reskin of the previous area.
There are also two other hole types in each area that mix things up quite substantially: cursed holes and boss holes. Bosses have you racing the boss to the hole as you try your best to play well and hit stun statues to slow them down, whereas cursed holes throw in random modifiers to make your run harder. Curses range from weather effects that throw your ball off, to visual alterations that make it difficult to see what you’re doing. It’s hard but also a load of fun – in fact, I wish the game had a mode that was just cursed golf.
As for the golf itself, you choose one of three clubs, you select the power, and you aim. It’s pretty straightforward, and you’re free to go back and alter your shot at any point if you’re not happy with your current selection. It’s rather forgiving, and it’s nice not to be locked into something just because your timing is off when choosing your putting power.
It’s good that it’s forgiving too, since the game is hard. Your ball breaks after a mere five turns, so you constantly need to hit statues to increase the durability of your ball to last long enough to finish. Thankfully there are also Ace Cards that are randomly given to you (or bought with money earned from winning) that can be used to give you an advantage. These tend to offer crazy effects, such as a rocket controlled ball with manual movement or a ball that splits into three and offers you the choice of which you want to keep. They’re a real game changer and what make the game just so damn fun. There are loads of cards available – which you’ll need! – but you can also store them in your personal binder so that you can use them in future runs instead. Everything seems really well balanced so that it never seems unfair, no matter how much you fail.
In fact, the game feels remarkably chilled out considering the difficulty. The relaxed nature of the golfing combined with the chirpy music and the fun Ace card system make this a really fun game just to jump into whenever you just want to blow off a bit of steam. I imagine this is how real golf feels for old rich dudes, except its for gamers. The game is so well crafted that failure doesn’t feel like much of an issue, since you’re happy to just play another round.
Are there faults? Well, a lack of multiplayer is a real shame considering the turn based nature of the gameplay, but otherwise there’s not much to fault. Some of the animations can take a little bit too long to play out, even with the fast forward function, but there’s not a lot to criticise.
Cursed to Golf is a surprisingly relaxing experience considering the difficulty of the game. It’s beautifully presented, and the Ace Card system helps make the game entertaining, even for people who don’t care about golf. Whilst it could do with a cursed multiplayer mode, the game is still an easy recommendation for fans and non-fans of golf alike.