A good game trailer brings in many more players than a game would on its own. Such is the case with Cursed to Golf.
Tons of the game’s charm is showcased in the trailer, and there’s plenty of charm to go around.
However, the trailer neglects to include everything about the game. In some ways, the title Cursed to Golf isn’t directed at the in-game character.
The game starts with you teeing off for what the announcer describes as the greatest match of all time.
A few swings get you through the game’s tutorial all while a storm moves in. On your final putt to win, lightning strikes your wedge and you die.
The ground then opens up underneath your corpse, and your ghost gets pulled down into golfer’s purgatory. There, you must play your way through the purgatorial courses to return to your mortal coil.
Unfortunately, the challenges on these courses are far worse than just dropping a drive in the drink.
These courses require you to move the ball across different levels, avoid graves that steal your ball, and literal stacks of dynamite.
One fortunate aspect to this is you don’t have to worry about meeting par on any hole. You just have to finish that hole before you run out of turns.
A Golf Course Out Of This World
Each round starts you with a certain amount of hits. Along the way, you can hit different statutes to increase your hit availability count to help keep you alive, so to speak.
Still, even with these statues, getting to the end requires a lot of focus.
You also earn cards along the way that give you different ways to cheat your way to success.
Some allow you to abruptly change trajectory mid-air, some give you extra hits, some split your ball into three, and some detonate TNT without you wasting a shot on it.
The only guidance you get is the tutorial at the beginning on how to use these cards. After that, the game leaves you to figure out how to use the tools you earn along the way to succeed. Using all of these different tactics and tricks is very simple.
Unfortunately, the courses themselves still treat you like hell with the challenges they throw at you.
Style and Substance Bring Personality
Everything indicated above described this game front and back. It’s not a complex game, and it doesn’t need to be.
What helps keep the game grounded is its visual style. Cursed to Golf features a charming pixelated style enriched with vivid animations that add personality to everything.
My personal favorite comes when you fail a course, and your ghost gets sucked out of the dimension like it’s going down a drain.
While the audio side of the game doesn’t move any mountains, it does play into the game nicely.
Sound effects match what they represent, and the accompanying music gives a nice upbeat vibe without taking you out of the game.
You then navigate different rounds on your way to Earth by following paths that mimic the Super Mario Land 3 match maps.
The map nodes consist of either shops where you buy cards or different matches.
Every time you fail, you face a brand new round map. The game won’t let you restart and practice. You need to wing it the whole way, which adds to the challenge the game throws at you.
You Still Gotta Really Love Golf
After the first few failures, the game grew cumbersome. Progressing takes a lot of patience for a long time.
Each hole takes between five and ten minutes, and you need to finish all 18 holes before you move on to the next round. You can stop between rounds and come back, but it still requires you to play a lot of golf.
Personally, this wouldn’t sound so negative if failing didn’t feel like you were in the middle of a rogue-like game of golf.
If you fail a round, you can’t return to that round and get better. Instead, you fail the previous round and get moved to the next round.
This combination makes the aptly-named Cursed to Golf a niche game inside a niche fanbase.
Still, managing to string several major moves in only a few shots feels so satisfying.
There are sometimes these air vents that grab your golf ball and fling it elsewhere. Sometimes, you can take one shot and go through the entire hole if you do it just right with the perfect use of cards.
There’s challenge and reward here, but the challenge-reward ratio and the level of satisfaction for success doesn’t quite reach the effort put into it.
Considering the amount of time you spend in each course, you still really gotta love golf in some form or another to truly dig into Cursed to Golf.
Much of these woes could feel less tedious if the game included a better map utility. You can move the camera all around the map to figure out your best path.
However, the game never allows you to look at the entire map all at once.
As someone with ADHD brain like me, focusing on previous paths while charting out new ones takes a lot more effort than I find enjoyable.
A Highly-Isolated Concept With A Specific Audience In Mind
Cursed to Golf includes some fun ideas and style into a traditionally blasé sport, filling the game with silly animations, a little dark humor, and engaging ways to cheat your way to victory.
Unfortunately for this unique concept, the focal point of this game remains the fundamentals of golf.
Cursed to Golf is fun in its own way (cheating your way to victory feels OH so good at times), but it lacks the kind of overall entertainment value to appeal to more than golf fans who also enjoy rogue-likes.