I finally bought a Nintendo Switch the other day, and one of the first purchases I made for it was Golf Story. It’s been a while since I played a good golf game, probably since I last played Sid Meier SimGolf did I feel my golfing urges sufficiently scratched. Yes, Golf With Your Friends is a fun mini-golf experience, but I wanted full-fat golfing goodness. Something I hoped Golf Story would be able to provide…
Hole in One
And it started off so well, even before I bought the game, I was pretty sold just from the aesthetic. Pixel perfect, cutesy and adorable, the go-to graphical interface for indie developers. It may be easier to do than full 3D modelling, but it still is not a simple task to get it done right. A lot of painful hours has to go into crafting the environments, the characters, and in a game that features maps as large as Golf Story, that’s no mean feat. Each golf course is really diverse as well, and you can tell the artists poured a lot of love into getting everything looking spot on. Interacting with people in the game is surprisingly fun as well. In lieu of voice actors, Sidebar Games used the speech windows and the size of the text to determine how loudly – or quietly – someone was talking. Seeing someone properly irate and shouting with their text bubble taking up the majority of the screen is a very funny event, and even though it seems like a very simple thing, it was executed to perfection.
I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m big on golf – I know there is the standard 18-hole course, and I know you can play mini-golf, but that’s about as far as my knowledge extends. Fortunately, Golf Story was much better researched, and there are actually a number of different golfing modes you can play – including disc golf! There are a number of quests in the game, and some of them you will have to play the various game modes, so while it is padding the game out, it is padding it out with fun activities. They all serve a purpose as well. You aren’t just doing these tasks for the fun of it, but so your character can feel like he’s progressing as a golfer. It’s also a nice little earner if you’re in need of a bit of cash, just go to one of the side-courses and bash out a course record, no big deal, and some more money in your pocket.
Out of Bounds
I hate dumping on indie games. Especially when the game is their first release. It feels like I’m being unfairly harsh on a team that have worked so hard to produce something they’re so proud of. For the most part, Golf Story is very good, but there are some incredibly sloppy moments that really let the game down. At the start of the game, you’re encouraged to perform tasks to earn some cash to pay for a golfing lesson. I quickly found out that I could just go around and rob golf carts and everything, which led to people commenting on my actions. Only a few of the times, I couldn’t see what they were saying, as they were off the screen. I can’t imagine what they said was very important, but it did leave me feeling very slightly miffed that I’d missed out on something funny. Also when it came to talking to people, you have to be pointed exactly at their centre, otherwise you’ll not actually say anything to them, which is irritating after the first fifty times.
The major disappointment was how basic the game was though. I wasn’t expecting a fully fleshed out game, and for the most part it’s all good, but it all felt too samey. There wasn’t enough difference in how the game played out, and even though I was sticking my points away, I never felt the progression in my game. It did a pretty poor job of making me feel like I’m progressing – or not – in the game, other than through story bits. They padded out a lot of different parts to the game, but actual progression felt a little lacking to me.
The Final Word
Golf Story is a pretty solid game, but it doesn’t have the appeal that other games have. Golf is a pretty offputting topic to a lot of people, so it was always going to be a hard sell to get people interested, and while I can definitely enjoy the majority of the actual gameplay, I never felt like I was improving, or that the game was letting me get better as a golfer. Does it feel like a replacement for SimGolf? Not really. It’s good in it’s own ways, but SimGolf is still top of the pile for golfing games in my eyes.