Imagine you are on your way to triumph in a golf tournament. You think the worst thing is that at that moment dark clouds suddenly appear and it starts raining cats and dogs? Then just wait until lightning strikes you and you die in the middle of the green. You will then land in the golf afterlife and get the chance to put your way back into life by successfully completing 18 golf courses. Sounds tempting, right?
It sounds like a crazy story too, but that’s the idea behind Cursed to Golf, a new roguelike where you swing the golf club instead of fighting. And this is definitely not as easy as it might sound at first. You will be told this right at the beginning by a spirit in a kilt who welcomes you to this afterlife. So far, no one has managed to golf their way back to life. But what is not, can still be, right? At least you try!
Don’t expect a lot of story
Although you should not expect that Cursed to Golf is a very story-heavy game. Because that’s really not it, golf is the focus here and that’s exciting and challenging enough as it is. Of course, you don’t have infinite time or attempts to progress further, after all this is still a roguelike.
The core of the basics of golf are there, albeit in a somewhat simplified form. For example, you don’t have to pay attention to the wind, but there are sand bunkers or water and of course the green. You have the choice between three racquets for short, medium and long shots. Then you choose the power of the shot – until then everything can still be undone and changed – and finally press the button again at the (hopefully) right moment to set the appropriate trajectory. You don’t determine them manually, the displayed trajectory moves up and down and if you click a tad too early or too late, it can backfire and cost you one of your valuable punches.
That’s ultimately the difficulty of the courses, along with the rather limited field of view. You can only move the camera to a very limited extent when hitting, but you can otherwise view the entire level by pressing the B button. From the beginning you only have a limited number of shots before a run fails, but there are different methods that can help you, for example the courses sometimes have shortcuts.
Planning and precision are key
You always have to balance what you want and how you want to get it. The gold and silver statues that you will find scattered throughout the levels are definitely helpful, they increase the number of your remaining shots again. Definitely take it with you if you can. The further you progress, the more obstacles and similar things await you in the levels. There are pinball-style bumpers, TNT boxes that you use to blast shortcuts, zombies, teleporters, and so on. In short: a lot that you should take into account and that can sometimes be very helpful if you know how to use it well. Or annoys you if you can’t use it properly.
Precision is definitely the key to success in Cursed to Golf. You have to get at least par on a course. If you run out of attempts, you end up back at the beginning and start all over again at hole one. You can’t memorize anything, because the courses will of course change if you try again. It’s not that easy for you, what do you think? It is worth taking a look at the entire course right at the beginning and seeing which route might be the best and what things you should take into account. Make a plan and try to carry it out.
Play the cards at the right moment
As an additional help you are given a card system. While playing golf you have the chance to play different cards that can help you in different ways. For example, if you want to pick up a statue off the path and want to increase the number of your hits, use the practice hit, since you won’t lose a hit while you still get the extra tries as a bonus.
Another card stops the ball in mid-air. You have to trigger it at the right time, of course, and when you do that, it then falls down like a stone in place. Ideal for hitting a narrow spot in the level. There are many helpful cards, but they don’t take over, but are helpful in individual situations. The actual golfing is still most important, especially since they are not infinitely available. You get some of them in the normal way through playing, others you can buy in the shop between individual golf courses.
Bounding also helps keep everything within bounds. You don’t throw cards around, you use them carefully. Your accuracy when hitting definitely plays a bigger role in successfully completing the course. If that doesn’t work, the cards are not a panacea. As I said: Cursed to Golf is not a casual game, but a roguelike.
A roguelike that ultimately lacks a bit of a sense of real progress. Later you get the opportunity to set a checkpoint on a run as a fail-safe, although every setback always hurts. Apart from that, there isn’t really a feeling for progression like you know it from other roguelikes. You do not unlock any additional skills, nor can the cards be further improved. If you fail, you’ll simply reset to the beginning and start over.
That’s a pity, but not a broken leg. Why? It’s easy to start over that way. You don’t have to worry about anything else and just go for it, don’t worry about anything else. And Cursed to Golf definitely always invites you to a quick round. You are quickly back in the action and can at least apply what you have learned so far to get through the courses faster than before.
With its beautifully drawn pixel look, Cursed to Golf just looks great. It never knocks your socks off, but the style is nicely implemented, offers visually varied levels and some nice details, the moon looks something like a golf ball. In fact, the look almost works to cute for such a death and afterlife theme, but it makes everything feel lighthearted and not so grim. Cursed to Golf spreads a pleasant atmosphere and good mood, to which the synth-heavy soundtrack also makes its contribution.
Cursed to Golf Test – Conclusion
I didn’t really have Cursed to Golf on my radar, but it surprised me all the more pleasantly. I like the Pixellok and the gameplay is as simple as it is challenging. Basically, you have few options when playing golf, but you have to get the most out of it, work on your precision and come up with a good plan to get through the levels. In short: a roguelike of a different kind, but Cursed to Golf proves that golf and roguelike also go well together, although the roguelike aspect could have been a bit more extensive. Are you interested in both? Then don’t miss this one.