There are many people who like to play a round of golf - wandering around a wide open plain searching for their ball as they try to get it into specific holes in the ground. Clearly, I am not one of them. However, I do enjoy a bit of crazy golf now and then. What The Golf? is a little more like insane golf than crazy golf, however. Take, for instance, the levels that make your ball fire webs like Spider-Man, or those having you “think with portals” - and you get a tiny inkling of what I might be talking about.
See, What The Golf? is a game that saw golf, took the “swing” mechanic and the idea of “the flag at the end is the goal”, and threw everything else away. Because sure, you’ll be hitting a ball at the flag now and then, but sometimes the ball is actually a house, or a rat-king of golf clubs - maybe even a person. Hell, occasionally it’s a rocket blasting across the level or a leaking barrel of gunpowder that has a spark following it! All they have in common are flags at the end, and the controls are just your left mouse button and dragging the mouse itself.
If you think you’re getting a handle on how weird this game is, then you are vastly underestimating What The Golf?. The framing device (because there’s no story per se) is that you’re a ball making your way through some facility that appears abandoned. There’s a computer in charge, and after each cluster of levels you need to defeat it to enter the next of the 10 areas. You simply have to fire a ball into its heart a bunch, and avoid the spikes at the bottom. Oh, but there’s something different every time, whether it’s reversed controls, invisible platforms or what have you.
Apart from a couple of weird freezes, the only issue I’ve had with What The Golf? are some physics issues. As your - for lack of a catch-all term - ball interacts with the environment, there needs to be physics. What will it bounce off of, where will it fly if exploded, how hard should gravity pull it down… There are some challenges that I literally couldn’t do, not because they were too hard (though some were), but because the physics were wonky. One example, I had to use a swing to throw animals into a certain number of objects, using only three creatures to knock them all down. Every single time I restarted that challenge, the first animal would fly off behind the swing. The second would often do the same, but not always, which of course made passing the level impossible.
There were others, but I was at least able to finish What The Golf? - in a little over seven hours - because you only need to clear the first level in any stage to be able to move on. I’ll have to go back and reattempt some of them after a patch or two, as well as those ones that I wasn’t having any luck in finishing because they were on the harder side.
Speaking of platformers - the music throughout the game is pretty great. Some of it is acapella, including the levels based on a certain plumber, so I burst out laughing. Just hearing “what the golf” harmonised in a variety of ways to resemble an iconic Nintendo theme really brightened my day. The game is full of great little audio touches, from the beeps of the cars to the yelps of the humans as they go flying across the level.
Another great touch, and something that someone is specifically credited with, are the puns when you finish a level. For instance: “Hole in 1” when you manage to putt a hole into a giant number one carved out of the ground. The majority of levels have them, and they’re very good if you like puns. Sadly, a few resort to just “What?” (although they are usually warranted), and others just say “Sports” or “Bowling” depending on the context…
Upon finishing the game, it does mention that there is more content coming to What The Golf?, but don’t despair because there are also daily challenges! Every day there are a bunch of random levels one after the other, and however many swings it takes to reach the final flag is your score. I even managed to reach the top of the leaderboard! Yes, it was pre-release and there was only one other real person on the board, but suck it random names!
I really enjoyed playing What The Golf?, and am looking forward to more levels. Anyone watching my screen was always entertained, and I know I definitely was. The only issues I had were already mentioned, and even at its budget full price I wouldn’t have felt cheated. A real hole in one.
WHAT THE GOLF? (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
It's not golf, and it's all the better for it. A fun 7-8 hours that will entertain, much like a golf-themed WarioWare.