Let me tell you an objectively correct fact about life: Golf in real life is boring; golfing video games are awesome. My history with the Mario Golf franchise almost overtakes the time spent on mainline games, and other golf franchises like Everyone’s Golf and Outlaw Golf were favorites growing up. Around the start of Next Fest, I saw this on Twitter. How can I not include Cursed to Golf after such a splendid display?
Quick structure disclaimer: Given this (and all the others) is only a demo, I won’t be too in-depth with my coverage, and will only reflect on the good and the bad. No overly long personal history or filibuster. No nonsense. That said, I will provide a synopsis for the game below.
“Cursed to Golf is a golf-like adventure where every shot counts. Players are tasked with making it out of Golf Purgatory to become a Golfing Legend. With insane hazards, otherworldly power-ups and tons of replayability, will you make it back alive or will you forever be… Cursed to Golf!?“
Knock on wood, but it’s kind of hard to screw up golf. Certainly, one can go on about the finer details when it comes to it, such as where you hit the ball, wind speed, terrain adjustment, and the various spins one can put on the ball. Yet for the purpose of standard rules—hit a ball as far as you can and get it into a hole—all the good feelings of the game, translated to electronic form, are replicated here.
What took me a little by surprise, though maybe it shouldn’t have, was the incredible soundtrack. I believe it was ordained by the rules of video games about thirty years ago that golf games are required to have incredible soundtracks to succeed. This demo passed the test. Catchy and incredibly upbeat, thrilling the blood to a boil to energize the player into hitting balls all day long. I ended up half-paying attention to various tutorial instructions because I was more focused on the soundtrack.
The visuals are certainly expressive, too, though they tend to be more detailed with specific characters than individual holes. I quite like the design of The Scotsman, which serves as your tutorial guide and store owner. Even the player character, though chibi-esque, has some charm in how… dead they look. Ironic as it is, the world of the dead seems more lively than our current reality.
There’s even a healthy amount of content to the demo, which is nice when compared to the relatively sparse content from a lot of other demos I’ve played. A whole tutorial section as well as a few of the first holes one can play. This can span up to about an hour, maybe more if you wish to replay holes to improve your scores.
Though this is “The Bad” section, what I’m going to emphasize here isn’t so much a definitive bad as a “potential” bad. And the potential lies entirely on the new aspects put within the game to spice up golf.
This isn’t just golf. This is a game of golf for those dwelling in the underworld. You don’t count up strokes, you count down. Instead of traversing the ball horizontally, you do so both horizontally and vertically. There are also tons of environmental hazards: rough and bunkers, obviously, but also fans and dynamite. With new rules for strokes also come statues you can break to increase your allotted strokes for each hole. There are even cards to manipulate the terrain or ball to one’s bidding.
My concern is that this will eventually kind of dilute the generally straightforward, fun sanctity of golf. That this will eventually become more about the thrills of the new things and less about just hittin’ a ball into a hole. Not to suggest these inclusions don’t add an interesting dimension to the game, just that their initial appeal might not translate to further down the line.
Right now, they’re neat. In future courses? Who’s to say? I only fear that these sorts of things will end up overcomplicating things as new holes come into view.
Exuberant and fun, my only concern is how long that giddy spirit will last. At its core, it’s a more complex game of golf with a spooky aesthetic (and great tunes). Should that be something that interests you, there’s nothing here to suggest that this will betray your expectations. Do it for the love of the game… and personal glory. More for personal glory.
Cursed to Golf has a demo you can play now on Steam. (Link under “Game Summary.”)
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Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.