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subpar pool Review

subpar pool Review

Developed and published by grapefrukt games, subpar pool is an amalgamation of pool and golf in a roguelike setting where you have to pocket all of the balls on the board before you run out of moves. An interesting puzzle title that, theoretically, should be endless for those who enjoy it — but is it worth your time?

Starting off, I'd like to say that I've found a sudden passion for golf games ever since I tried Par for the Dungeon, and likewise, I used to be the type of girl who played pool a little too much until my wife asked me to stop and I sold my at-home table (I still mourn it to this day). To say that I was excited for subpar pool would be an understatement. After a laughably short download — consisting of only 91.35 MB, or a ridiculous three-second download time — I started my first run in seemingly no time.

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Truth be told, though I knew what I was getting into with the game, I didn't really know exactly how the game works despite it being explained on the store page quite well. Basically, every world is a randomly generated set of five "puzzles" to go through; you can choose your starting position, and your goal is to get everything in below the Par number. By bypassing the Par number by one, you lose your first of three lives, and whichever balls you didn't pocket become black ones that get in your way to the next level.

It starts simple and easy, as the cute ball walks you through how to start a level, how to move and hit (with a neat bounce line for those who aren't great with angles), and how to pick your cards for whenever you're going to start a new one. This final item is the one that plays a crucial element in making subpar pool anything but subpar.

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There are a total of four worlds you can pick from and 18 different cards, of which you can pick several the more into the game you go. The cards work similarly to Hades’ heat levels, adding an extra layer of difficulty with each new one you add to your deck. These can add different types of balls — from the Chonker that doesn't get hit as hard to the Hunter that chases you through the board — or change how you play the game. The second category is the one that adds the most enjoyment and differences to the levels, as you receive new handicaps like having a fixed start (not being able to move the ball from where it starts) to removing the bounce line entirely.

Combinations of these are what makes subpar pool a delightful and addicting title, and to be able to unlock more cards, you'll need to complete card-specific challenges, which are bound to one of the ones you already own. These can range from multi-run challenges like pocketing a specific type of ball to completing a level various times. As you unlock more card slots, the challenges get a mandatory card count, meaning that you'll find yourself stacking cards and finding which ones are the "least" challenging ones to deal with.

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Runs are extremely short and have no punishment for failing. With some of the cards, losing is entirely viable as an option to finish the challenges easily, and even if you decide to try to complete them via victories only, you'll take anywhere from a minute to three or four per run. This means that you will breeze through levels and not have to commit to playing for several minutes on end, and if you want, you can even quit a run midway through — again, at no penalty.

It's not particularly difficult, and the lack of downsides for anything means that subpar pool just wants you to experiment and have fun. How easy the game is depends on what cards you add to each level, and the more card slots you get, the harder your runs become — you can have one with a fixed start, no bounce lines, one life, and "Fast Run", which means that you have a timer ticking to 0 every time you are aligning your shots. Likewise, you can add simpler cards without any hassle, especially so long as they don't have a challenge active at any moment.

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And this is where the game shines most — you just get to have fun. The pick-up-and-play style of gameplay feels all too rare nowadays, with some of the most casual titles still demanding upwards of 30 minutes of your day. From Vampire Survivors to more commitment-filled titles like League of Legends, you can expect to pick it up and play for at least half an hour, whereas subpar pool fills a particular niche of enjoyable, ball-based puzzles that I can pick up and play through in a minute.

subpar pool is relatively short depending on how you want to play it, and that might be my single complaint with the title — I want more of it. There are a total of 196 challenges, but you can expect to have unlocked most of the cards and worlds by the time you reach your third hour. From there, different combinations and challenges keep the fun going for a while longer, but for those who aren't casual players and like to strive for something, it might feel a bit short. 

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But that isn't a complaint — even though it's relatively short, the only problem I have with the game is that I don't have more of it in terms of challenges to go through. And, priced at £8.50, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend picking it up, even at full price — it may just be my favourite casual title thus far, and I hope to play it for hours more to come.

10.00/10 10

subpar pool (Reviewed on Windows)

Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?

Priced at just £8.50, subpar pool is something I recommend as a no-brainer for anyone who likes the premise.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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