If the world were to turn into a wasteland, your top priorities are likely to be getting food, water, shelter, and maybe an abandoned Game Boy to pass the time (because you to know those puppies can last for decades). Playing golf is unlikely to be at the top of your bucket list at the time, so it’s good that Golf Club: Wasteland lets you experience this in the comfort of your own home before the apocalypse.
Within the world of Golf Club Wasteland, the richest inhabitants of Earth have fled to Mars to start over. Lone golfer Charley returns to Earth for one last round of golf, which takes place on a wide variety of “courses” with abandoned buildings, damaged vehicles, overgrown forests and other unsafe environments. The game contains a total of 35 levels, all of which have their own set number of strokes required to sink the ball (or ‘even’). This can range from a nice realistic par 3 to par 20, something you definitely won’t find on your local links.
The gameplay itself is relatively minimalist, with a basic user interface that leaves your attention on the environment around you undisturbed. You move the left analog stick to set direction and power level, press ‘A’ to fire your shot, and that’s it that. Charley will automatically move to wherever you hit the ball to take the next shot, and if you’re unlucky enough to hit it in a body of water (or, of course, have the squirrels steal the ball from you), he will. just reappear at your feet so you can try again.
There are three modes available and your preference will depend on the type of difficulty you are looking for. The story mode allows you to complete each round in as many shots as you want, without penalties for messing up your shots or going over par. The Challenge mode shows the number of strokes required to complete the course and, if you do not succeed, the ball will self-destruct and you will have to start the level from scratch. Completing Challenge Mode will unlock Iron Mode, where no mistakes are allowed and you will need to complete your shots with pinpoint accuracy.
On its own, the gameplay of the Golf Club Wasteland can seem a bit repetitive, particularly on courses that require 10 or more shots to complete. It’s good, then, that the experience is wonderfully enhanced by a surprisingly deep narrative. The story is told through journal entries, background radio talks, and an additional graphic novel that comes with the game. Which part of the story you decide to invest in is up to you; You can avoid it entirely if you want, but we certainly think the added context makes the game a bit more meaningful.
We also have to recognize the aforementioned radio function. Playing as you progress through the courses (with helpful subtitles included), it provides a bit of background to the situation Earth’s inhabitants are now in, along with a host of catchy tunes for you to navigate the wasteland. feel a little less lonely. Some of the songs are quite strange and remind us of Lynch’s creations, such as Twin peaks.
To add a bit of disappointment to the proceedings, the neon signs adorning dilapidated buildings and barren hills in the background rubbed us the wrong way. To be clear, Golf Club Wasteland is not a kid’s game thanks to the colorful language that appears on the radio, but some of the neon signs were just needlessly childish, if not entirely inappropriate. These featured seemingly random words pulled from the urban dictionary that completely pulled us out of an otherwise engaging and profound narrative. Not enough to completely spoil our nice post-apocalyptic ride, but enough to be irritating.