WHAT THE GOLF?
Switch version tested
Review code provided
I am not a fan of sports games. Thankfully, neither is What The Golf?. Frankly, whether you like golf games or not, What The Golf? makes that irrelevant, as it puts the most bizarre and wonderful spin on a traditional game. This ludicrous game is made by Triband and I’m so glad a game like this exists in my life. It’s one of the least pretentious and most loveable games on the market today.
What The Golf? loosely takes the premise of golf and you have to complete many unique holes. Thing is, it’s rare that you are trying to hit a typical ball into a normal hole. Your ball may be a coffeemaker, a car or, to complete an irony, a golfer. The courses themselves are like Mini Golf on LSD, Steroids and as many Class A drugs as you can find. There are so many crazy courses, and I don’t think you would see any of them at Mulligan’s. I don’t think that this game has ever watched the Ryder Cup, but I don’t think they care, and it only makes me like them more.
From the first minute of the game, you are dropped into it and they hit you with a fistful of absurd hilarity. They set the tone early on, with their engaging art style and delightfully weird music. The jokes-per-minute for most games are usually pretty low, which is absolutely normal, because that’s the artform: developers want to make you play a fun game, they’re not preparing material for the Comedy Store. What The Golf? absolutely breaks that preconceived notions and gives you jokes thick and fast. It gets you hooked in the first minute and doesn’t let you go. It’s impressive.
This game is consistently hilarious. It’s not just one-note comedy. It’s got layers of different jokes and the humour evolves as the game goes on. There are killer puns at the end of the levels. Puns so good, that it’s entirely feasible that the only reason that they built the level was to include that pun.
The game also offers multiplayer and it’s incredibly well-suited for younger players too. Although a couple of jokes may go over their heads. One level involves having to avoid huge golf clubs trying to knock you off the path and the level was called “Swingers Club”. Love it.
There is a backbone of a storyline and this narrative allows you to play through the levels. It’s actually a stroke (pun intended) of genius. That’s because if they made you play a series of golf levels back-to-back, it may make your eyes bleed of boredom after an hour. However having something to break-up the games, as you putt your ball around the map, it adds an unconscious break which allows you to enjoy the holes a lot more.
Somehow, for a game which is constantly joking around, it actually gains depth through unintentional philosophy. This is no mean feat. It challenges the player to really re-evaluate the concept of what golf is and what golf can be. Certainly by the end of the game, they have stretched that meaning so far. It gets to the point where it argues that technically every game that we can play, whether it is Madden or Call Of Duty, it is essentially golf, in some twisted, illogical way.
As the game develops, there is certainly a “The Cake Is A Lie” mentality to the plot and it fits really nicely to the anarchy of the game. The story isn’t really part of the game and it’s not complex, but there is enough of it to coalesce all the surreal vignettes together. It was the perfect amount of story for the game in hand. The homages in this game are freaking wonderful. Not to ruin some of the themed missions, but if you are a fan of video games, this game will make you howl with laughter (alongside your companion cube).
The bizarre thing is that this concept could have quite EASILY become a novelty game. But it goes far beyond that. That is because of the many challenges and the genuinely difficult levels; it actually makes the game very playable. Each hole that you play has two variants on it. There is usually a par challenge and a silly mission. If you do both, you get a crown. Get enough crowns, it gets you a trophy.
The game is always keeping you on your toes as you are always learning new styles and using new balls. Some missions are headbangingly difficult and you want to throw your Switch console into the nearest quarry. Joking aside, I never got annoyed by this level of challenge, as it’s part of the game and it’s humour – it’s constantly trolling you. It’s so charming that I never got annoyed at my failure.
The physics in the game are really astounding. There are a lot of mechanics in the game that go as fast as they come. They play with all forms and have fun with each of them. It’s constantly tricking and deceiving you, and I am genuinely surprised every time. Their innovation is mind-blowing. There is one level in which you have to use your Switch as a VR console and you move around the room with it. There is no game like it.
For the sakes of balance, I encountered one bug in which got my ball stuck and had to restart the game. This happened once and it’s utterly trivial. Oh, and sometimes the controls can lack finesse, especially if you need ultimate precision for an incredible hard hole – that can be annoying. But that’s it really. I’ve struggled to find another bad word to say about it.
This is the only sports game that I will ever truly love. In no uncertain terms, this is most definitely a Hole in one.
TBG Score: 9.5/10
Platform: PC, Mobile, Nintendo
Release Date: 21/05/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Sports, Party, Puzzle
Download link: eShop