It’s fair to say Golfie is a game that essentially throws you right in there at the deep end. Sticking to the genre staples of deckbuilding roguelikes, the early play will be to ‘try, try and try again’. Now, to be fair, there is a tutorial island of sorts, but it is more from the vein of dumping you on an island with a ball and letting you press buttons until you figure everything out yourself. Luckily, I have played enough Wii Sports and Shockwave Games to figure it out.
Like any roguelike, the main campaign of Golfie is structured around runs. For those who may not know how that looks in a mini-golf game here is an explanation; Each run will consist of multiple small islands on a map all interlinked within each other. Players will start at the beginning of the map, and work their way through these Islands. You do have the ability to choose which level design you play next, and which route you can take until the end.
Some levels will have a question mark over the design. This means the game has a sort of rule attached to this. This may be something along the grain of double damage, a bouncier ball throughout, or going over par means your ball explodes. It adds that extra level of challenge to a game that is already on tenterhooks with its roguelike charm.
Your run relies on energy and, obviously, skill. You will start with 7 bars of energy. Energy is lost over time or when your ball is hit out of bounds for the level into water or lava or another obstacle that means you will have to start back where you left off. Once you run out of this energy, your run is over. Runs will always refresh the map and therefore you can’t cheese it just by mastering a particular order you’d like to go in on the map.
Controls are simple enough, using the mouse for power and direction. Players can move the camera around the map using their mouse holding down for direction. You can also scroll for zooming in and adjusting your viewpoint for each shot. If you choose to start your move you’ll have to click and hold the ball which will give you a directional arrow to help guide your shot. Your default hit is in fact not very powerful at all, and should you want to go anywhere fast you’ll need to start deck building, and adding cards to your shot. Players are given a choice of cards that can influence your shot, for good or for bad depending on your putt.
There will be opportunities at times to ‘pick a glitch’ and this allows the player to either pick a perk, change a card or pick a new/rare card for your deck. This allows your card deck to grow and have variation as you progress through more challenging and longer level designs.
Hit the Decks
So as we’ve discovered, this is not your usual casual mini golfing experience. The game boasts a roguelike, deck building experience and so that brings us onto the decks. Overall there are 47 cards to collect, and these will be unlocked gradually as you build your player level doing runs. By just a few runs in I had around half the amount of cards so it is possible to unlock a lot of the cards quickly to maximise your runs.
On each turn you’ll be dealt 3-4 cards that can be either used individually, altogether or not at all. Your default deck is mostly built up of powershots, curve shots, and lob shots. They are all pretty self explanatory. A powershot increases the power of your swing, a lob shot will help the ball lob itself over any obstacles, lumps or bumps in the road and a curve ball adds a curvature to your directional swing. The cards can stack so if you want extra height or power and you have those cards in your hand, you can absolutely smash your ball across the beach should you wish.
Frustratingly, you can’t swap out any cards of your deck, and if you choose to not use any cards, you’ll likely end up with a pretty lacklustre hit. If you don’t want to hit the ball at all you can choose to forfeit that turn, and reshuffle. There is a card you can eventually unlock that allows you to reboot your deck, but this is a card that would need to be drawn at random on a bad deck, and I think those chances would be few and far between.
When I first began playing Golife, we were in early access, so texture popping and smaller details missing were very much forgiven. In further gameplays I noticed this significantly less if at all, which may be due to some further updates that Golfie has received.
Other cards that players can expect are cards that can influence your deck, the ball itself, the turn or swing you may have, or the finishing shot. There are creative cards such as trampolining effect cards which will allow your ball to jump over obstacles, jetpacks for your ball, cards that manipulate the ground that you may hit the ball with. There is such a range of differences that players can utilise to achieve preserving their energy and keeping their run going for as long as possible.
An important dynamic for the player to keep tabs on is the reactor. Each card will have a heat level. Should the reactor reach maximum level because too much heat has been played within one turn, the reactor will explode and two energy will be lost.
This is where perks can really make or break your game. In total players can look to collect and explore how all 35 perks can change your game. Perks can be applied to that particular run. For me personally, the best one was gaining one energy at the start of every level. This freed me up to take some risks, especially with trickier map designs that might have many obstacles in the way. This was actually one of the runs where I had gotten the furthest. The good thing about this is that the perks do allow you to play it safe, or you can make your run feel challenging by choosing to sacrifice energy for the sake of a different type of benefit.
Avoid the Void
There are three main types of locations to tee off in and players will likely visit all of them quite quickly. They are made up of a beach location, the interior of Bowser’s castle (it’s not, but it sort of reminds me of that), and your classic park windmill mini golf setting.
Apart from the castle interior, most levels are on floating islands, which means that if you shoot too quickly or far, you can risk falling into the void. The castle levels have much more danger with lava pits and swinging blades. If you do not time your swing right and hit one of the blades you will instantly start at your last checkpoint.
Some levels are filled with obstacles. In the castle runs, don’t be surprised if you are trying to navigate your swing in between tens of candles, or around some wooden crates. In the windmill runs you will need to hit between the classic windmill blades. On the beach you will likely smack your ball into a pretty tall palm tree or sun lounger.
If you find yourself in need of another perk, or want to change things up with cards. You can sacrifice a turn to hit your ball into a vending machine to spend coins. Coins are collectable around the level area and some cards will even enhance your range by giving your ball a magnetic field in order to collect more. There is no limit to what you can spend in the vending machine, but items can sell out.
If your more of a ‘Golf with Your Friends‘ type, than a solo golfer then Goflie does have an option to play against friends. I haven’t managed to dive into this (careful now, it’s not because I don’t have friends!) but if Golfie’s main campaign is anything to go by, then I can imagine the multiplayer is a lot of fun.
This game feels almost quite compact and simplistic in a sense, and not in a bad way. Golfie would work really well on consoles, I imagine. I can see this working nicely on Nintendo Switch or iOS. It has that addictive quality due to its ‘one and done’ nature, I could certainly see it being picked up and played in those lulls in the day.
Golfie is a first of its kind deckbuilding, roguelike minigolf game. Whilst simplistic in design, Golfie offers a range of challenges to the player that adds an extra dynamic to your usual minigolf fare. There is a certain charm to Golfie that is not often met with sport games. It’s a welcoming roguelike that’s easy to lose an hour to.
Golfie is available now on PC via Steam.
Developers: Triheart Studio
Publishers: Yogcast Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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