Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Also On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox
Price: $19.99 MSRP – Digital Only
Please Note: A review code was provided by ChuhaiLabs but does not influence opinions in this review.
A genre of games that I just got into last year, was roguelikes. Never really had an interest in this genre before playing what became my personal GOTY from last year: Returnal. These types of games are climbing higher up on my list of favorite games to play as I explore into the medium of what they are all about. Golf, and sports games for me are personally hit or miss depending on many things. I never thought that a game would combine these two concepts; yet Cursed to Golf does and it doesn’t just combine the two different styles of games, the combination works extremely well.
In this adventure, you play as a young golfer who has just died and been taken into an area called the Purgatory. You are not completely dead yet, and you can still get back to your old life; however, you have to complete a very challenging yet fun 18 holes of golf. The few characters you meet along the way are very interesting individuals that may seem misunderstood. They are there to both teach and guide you but also to block you from leaving. It seems like a fairly simple story and it is, but it definitely is a story that keeps you wanting to get through all of it and become alive again.
Overall, the story isn’t the biggest draw in a game like this, at least in my personal opinion. The gameplay is what keeps you coming back, and even though this is just a golf game, there is a lot of different mechanics. One of these mechanics is how the game fundamentally plays. It is a roguelike which means every round you play, every hole you tackle will feel different. You might see holes you have seen before, but you may not see them in the same place, or there are slight variations within them. The map you travel won’t always be the same with what choices you have available. Some roguelikes you may need luck, and sometimes you may need a little luck in this one with cursed areas, but it is not too big.
In the game, you have to complete 18 holes before winning the game. 18 holes might not seem like a challenge, but if you lose at let us say the 17th, you need to start at hole 1. Joys of roguelikes, die and you restart the whole game. Anyway, each hole starts you out with 5 shots to take, you can get more shots by destroying idols of either gold or silver variety. Holding a driver, a wedge, and an iron, find the best spot to aim, and shoot. Fairly simple gameplay on a basic level. You must find the path you want to take to get to the hole, sometimes there are multiple options and it might not always be the best to look for the most direct way. The first time you get to holes 5, 10, and 15, there are boss battles that you need to complete. These are some really tricky areas that make you use the skills you have to the test. Once you win these boss battles, you can get helpful abilities to make the journey less intense.
In order to help you along with the game, you can get different cards that give you different abilities such as rewinding your previous turn, adding shots to your total available, changing your ball movement in air, shooting multiple shots and picking the best one, rocket ball that lets you traverse, and a bunch more that will come in handy throughout your experience. In the levels, these are needed as there are water sections, sand traps, vines that ensnare the ball, graves that grab the ball, TNT blocks, along with more tricks and mysteries that make the experience challenging but a fun time to explore.
After talking story and gameplay, what about graphics, art, music, and everything else that is involved with the game? Well the music is good, but there isn’t a huge amount of variety and it kind of got a little repetitive after like 5 or 6 holes. It is definitely not bad music, it kind of loses its charm overall once you hear it too much, but that can be said about a bunch of things. The art in the game is amazing and I loved seeing the visual style among all of the different areas you explore throughout the 18 holes. Playing on the PlayStation 5, the graphics look amazing and the game ran very nicely without any real issues with frame rates or resolution issues. So overall, that part of the package definitely is a good value.
Time for the moment I really don’t like to talk about in games but something it needs to be said; bugs and glitches. Sometimes when I was near the vines or tombstone ranges but not in the ranges of these sections, I would have my ball being taken and dealing out a penalty point. Another thing is when I hit a golden statue and then got spiked, sometimes it would not give me the 4 extra shots it was supposed to. Thirdly, sometimes I couldn’t even have my player do anything and I couldn’t press any buttons. Lastly, I completed the game and there is a trophy called “Back 9” by completing all 18 holes and I never got it. They said that the bug was known and is trying to be fixed. There were many different instances within levels that I couldn’t beat so I had to restart the level by returning to the main menu and going back. I expect some bugs in games these days, but for this one, I found more than I thought there would be.
I have some minor criticisms with the game that I need to talk about. First of all, not a big deal for me, but might be something others might need to know, there are no difficulty levels. Secondly some of the levels and bosses, the third boss in particular, if you do not have the right cards with you, it can definitely feel like it is is impossible to win. Guess luck is here in some ways but it stinks that you have to go back all the way to the beginning if you can’t get more cards. Not massively a big deal since it is a roguelike and I am use to it from restarting runs in Returnal, but kind of upset me at times. Lastly, and this kept coming up, once you leave the shop in your run except at the beginning of an area, you couldn’t re-enter it if you forgot something. Kind of annoyed me as I wished to go back and get something I forgot once.
Overall, is the game worth the pick up and play right now at the asking price of $19.99? Well, it depends. If you are a player who likes challenging but very fair experiences, then this game might be for you. However, if restarting a run is something you don’t like, then this is not a game for you at all. I can definitely still recommend this game, even with all the bugs since none of them are game breaking, but if having to restart the hole you are playing makes you annoyed, then maybe wait until a couple of patches come out later down the line. The game was a joy to play, the bugs hurt my overall opinion for it; but for a game from a smaller indie developer, it really was a job well done. The game took me about 6 hours to complete after 10 rounds of fun and frustration, so it isn’t super long, but it also isn’t super short. It is somewhat skill based and somewhat luck based, so it could be a lot shorter or longer for you.