I’m an absolute sucker for golf video games, especially when a developer spins the tried and true formula such as Golf Story and Golf With Your Friends. Anytime a new golf game pops up that gives another fresh look on the game I’m immediately all in. That’s why I was chomping at the bit when I saw this game pop up in our review list. To my surprise I got the most challenging gaming experience I’ve had in a long time with developer Chuhai Labs bringing the most crushingly difficult 18 holes of golf you will ever try to play in the golf roguelite Cursed to Golf.
First and Foremost, the pixel art of Cursed to Golf is bursting with charm and personality. The main character is cute as a button and has a full wardrobe of sick outfits to maximize his look. The bosses are thematically designed to match their areas and it is interesting to learn their personalities. The music and all around ambient sound also goes a long way in contributing to the high level of polish to this game. If someone were to tell me this was a first party title from Nintendo I would absolutely believe them.
In Cursed to Golf you control a doomed golfer that was struck by lightning on the final hole of the Eternal Cup tournament, sending him down into the depths of hell. Luckily, the afterlife is surprisingly very golf centric, allowing you to swing your way back to life. Unluckily, the Greenskeeper in charge of this challenge is a sadistic jerk that creates the most difficult dungeon-like courses you have ever seen.
Each hole of Cursed to Golf is laid out similar to a platformer dungeon, but in order to move you need to hit your ball where you want to go. Each hole has a 5 stroke timer, meaning if you run out of strokes before getting to the pin its game over and you’re sent back to the aptly named pro shop, Eterni-Tee, to start the run again. There are ways to extend your stroke limit, including idols you can hit or deployable Ace Cards you can activate prior to setting up a shot. So even though each hole starts with 5 strokes, you can and often will take much, much more. For example I finished a single hole after 43 strokes.
This is mostly due to spamming Ace Cards to extend my strokes. However, Ace Cards do so much more than that. You can use a card to turn your ball to ice so you can bounce across a water hazard, turn your ball into a controllable rocket, get multiple free shots, or turn your ball into a drill to dig through a platform. There is in theory an ace card to pull you out of any jam you can find in the randomly generated dungeons, the biggest issue is having the card you need on hand.
While the actual golfing mechanics feel very nice to use, it’s so easy to have one little slip up that sends you all the way back to the start. It’s also entirely possible that you will face an unwinnable situation after struggling through 9+ holes and you just have to suck it up and come to terms with starting over again. This can be because you simply chose the wrong path through the dungeon, you don’t have the card to make a clutch shot, you get a random curse that prevents you from making the shots you need, or a boss gets to the pin slightly before you do. All of these can and will happen and will make a solid run crumble to pieces in an instant. Cursed to Golf is in theory a very simple game; you just need everything to go exactly right over the course of all 18 holes.
Unlike other roguelikes such as Hades or Rogue Legacy, when you fail a run there’s nothing to upgrade or change in the hub area to better prepare you for the next venture. You simply have to pick up your golf bag and hope the pieces fall together more nicely next time. In between holes on a run you will be able to pick up extra cards, hit the pro shop, or choose to play a more difficult hole for more rewards. Over time you will become more acclimated to the way you need to place shots and control spin, but other than that it’s all up to how you personally grow and adapt to the brutally antagonizing challenge.
Like any roguelike, you will be replaying the first few areas over and over again.Even though the course is randomly generated, you’ll still see the same designs and setups pop up over again. After a few hours of attempts you will start to see similar courses multiple times and learn the paths to go through them easier. It will get to a point where you wish you can just skip these repetitive portions to get to the area you actually need to practice on without having to chew up an hour of your time on the same spot over and over. This can lead to you attempting to rush through the early holes and quickly making mistakes you shouldn’t, causing an early reset and unneeded frustration. Cursed to Golf demands your time and will make you pay for trying to cut corners.
While the first area will become so ingrained in your head that you can figure it out with little problems, the design on some of the later holes can be very obtuse and difficult to figure out the right path. You’re more so solving a golf themed puzzle than playing straight forward golf, making the run resets come flowing. You are equipped with a birdie eye camera that allows you to see a zoomed out map of the dungeon, ideally to plan out your course, but sometimes it’s not very clear where to go. For example, there are teleporters and warp pipes that appear pretty often and it is difficult to suss out where they end up most times, throwing a wrench in your planning process to often run-ending results.
For your own mental health, it’s best to play Cursed to Golf in short bursts, as the frustration can build very quickly when something slips up and kicks you back to square one. However, the game is charming enough and plays smoothly enough to bring your spirits back up and give you some more hope that this next run is the special one to take you to the promised land. While the game can have an addictive quality in that way, it can feel very repetitive playing through the same early hazards over and over again to get to the actual difficult parts. Cursed to Golf has amazing pick-up-and-play ability that warrants it’s spot to stay installed on my PC to come back to over and over again.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
A Curse that's tough to break
Overall - 7.5/10
A brutally punishing challenge that maintains a cutesy charm, yet can’t quite overcome the repetitive aspects that build up pretty quickly after being forced to restart over and over again.
Garett is a full time English student at Wright State University with a deep passion for gaming. He has been playing video games for as long as he can remember and that’s not even hyperbole. Read more...