“And here we are. The final hole of the Eternal Golf Championships. This could be his chance to become the world champio-oh…Oh! He’s been struck by lightning! No! He’s… dead!” This is where the life (or should I say death) of The Cursed Golfer begins. You are then tasked with completing an 18-hole golf course in Golf Purgatory to return back to life. Throughout your journey, you’ll face off with a number of ghoulish golfers who will sometimes help you… and sometimes not.
2D golf games usually follow the same formula and tend to be relaxing and therapeutic. Cursed to Golf adds to this formula but removes the relaxing and therapeutic parts. Instead of worrying about getting stuck in sand dunes, you must watch out for TNT blocks, fans that will suck your golf ball away, and many other hazards to make your life (or death) harder.
Another aspect of Cursed to Golf that differs from other golf games is its roguelike-ness. In Cursed to Golf, should you fail to complete a course within the allotted number of strokes, you are sent right back to hole one to start all over again. On top of this, the courses themselves are not identical each time. The locations of hazards and special statues (which grant you additional strokes) will be different every time you jump in or start again. Still, I bet you’re thinking, “18 holes? That isn’t too difficult”. Well, that’s where you are wrong.
These courses are not your usual left-to-right courses where you avoid inclines and hazards. Instead, what you have before you are Metroidvania-like courses that are complex and daunting. The usual first hit with a driver to get your ball as far as possible won’t work here; you’ll need to scout ahead each and every time and strategically figure out the best course of action. Whilst this deepens the gameplay, it severely harms the pacing of the game. When things go wrong, it can really putt (get it?) you off starting from the beginning again.
To add an extra layer of strategy to Cursed to Golf, you have a set number of consumable cards at your disposal to aid you during each perilous course. These cards can help in several ways during your journey through purgatory. Some of the most useful cards you can use include a time-stop mechanic that can suddenly stop your ball dead in its tracks, a ‘mulligan’ that allows you to retake your last shot, and a special card that will explode all TNT in view to openpaths. A favorite of mine is a special card that splits your golf ball into three after you hit it, allowing you to pick which of the three you want to be your landing ball. You also have three different clubs to switch between (driver, iron and wedge) to specify your shot arc and distance.
There’s no hiding that Cursed to Golf is an incredibly difficult video game, and frustratingly so. One incorrect stroke or faux pas and you can find yourself in an awful position that may see you back at hole one (if you even made it past that hole!). What’s more, you’ll come across special cursed holes where you will be given a handicap on top of what is an already hard course. Some handicaps include being unable to utilize the trophies that award you more strokes, limiting you to hit the ball in one direction, or even flipping the course upside down to make your controls feel very strange.
It is likely that you will be unable to make your way through Cursed to Golf first time round with no deaths, and Thunderful Games anticipated this by including a fast forward button that can be used at any time. This allows you to breeze through your hits or any text that you may deem unimportant and comes in handy between strokes. Even though the animation of your character chasing his golf ball is cool, you only need to see it once or twice.
A highlight of Cursed to Golf is its art design and music. Both are perfectly suited to each other and full of ghoulish fun. Each course is relatively unique, and the soundtrack compliments the visuals. Alongside this are the very cool-looking characters you encounter through purgatory, ranging from a Scotsman to a ghoulish, sad skeleton.
Review: Cursed to Golf (Nintendo Switch)
Cursed to Golf is a wholly unique golfing experience that is well worth checking out. The mechanics shake up the golf formula, allowing it to stand out among its peers and breathe new life (ironic, huh?) into this sports genre.The visuals and sound design across the board are a marvel, yet its frustratingly difficult gameplay can deter certain individuals from the key replayability this golf-roguelike offers.If you’re anything like me, your little golf would-be champion will be spending more than eternity in purgatory. If that’s even possible.