Cursed to Golf is a 2D Golf Roguelike that feels absolutely perfect on the Nintendo Switch except for having a game-breaking bug four levels in.
- Title: Cursed to Golf
- Release Date: August 18, 2022
- Price: $19.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated E for Everyone by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch, Steam, PlayStation, Xbox
- Recommended for fans of: Roguelikes, Golf Games, and Pixel Art
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
Between the promise of a rogue-like adventure and 2D gold mechanics that looked like they functioned exactly how I wanted, Cursed To Golf had my interest from the first time I saw it. Now it’s finally out, and I spent a few hours last night playing a review build of the Switch release. The game is fantastic.
It looks great and has a fun core golf system with a nice set of single-use boosts to push you forward, but it also seems to have a fatal bug that is keeping me from progressing past the first set of levels.
Golf With Style
The basic golf mechanic in Cursed to Golf works absolutely perfectly. You can choose between three different clubs, then tap A on an oscillating power meet to set how hard you’ll hit, then tap A again as an arc showing your shot moves up and down.
This setup gives you a good feeling of control, and up to that final tap, you can hit B to back out. If you accidentally choose a wedge or beef the power selection, you aren’t stuck with it. That does sort of make the power slider feel a bit redundant, but it also keeps the flow fun instead of frustrating.
After you hit the ball, you can hold left or right and mash the A button to put a spin on the ball. You can even put a different spin on different bounces, which lets you pull off some satisfyingly sneaky shots.
Adventuring Through the Afterlife
The story of Cursed to Golf starts off with your character dying just before winning a championship that would mark them as the greatest golfer in the world. No stress, though, because it turns out the great beyond is a constantly shifting golf course managed by “The Groundskeeper”.
Your goal is to make it through 18 randomly selected holes to conquer his course. Supposedly, doing so will mean the Groundskeeper will allow you to ascend back to the life you left behind.
Each hole is an expansive 2D labyrinth, full of branching paths, traditional and outlandish obstacles, and statues you can destroy to get extra shots. You are given five shots per hole, but almost every hole is going to require more than that, so the statues are essential. Run out of shots and you get pulled back to the start of the course to start all over.
The Rogue of it All
From what I’ve seen, this game is much more rogue-like than most modern rogue games. So far, I haven’t seen any sort of unlockables that make the game easier as you progress. It really seems like you start from scratch each run.
On the course, you occasionally have branching paths where you can choose between, say, picking up some new power-ups or grabbing cash that you can spend at a store later on. Since both of those ultimately lead to the same thing – more powerups – it feels mostly like a question of whether you need them now or later.
When you do visit a shop, you can drop off cards for you to retrieve on a later run. This is the only form of progression that I’ve seen carry over, but I haven’t really figured out what the strategy is on why you’d leave cards behind.
The Game-Breaking Bug!
Most of the courses in Cursed to Golf just look for you to make it to the hole before you run out of strokes. Occasionally you can choose a path that will give you extra powerups in exchange for a challenging hole that throws weird game tweaks at you, like flipping the whole screen upside down, but mostly it’s pretty straightforward.
At the fourth stop on your journey, however, the spirit who helped you settle into your golfing curse challenges you to a race. On this level, you not only have to be aware of how many strokes you have left, you also have to make it to the end of the level in fewer strokes than him. Thankfully, there’s a new type of statue introduced here that stuns him for a turn.
I really like this concept, but it seems like this level is broken. One of the course features in Cursed to Golf is a teleporter that you can hit your ball into, which will then deposit it somewhere further on in the course. This is available to both you and your opponent, and this particular level has several transporters throughout. It's even designed in such a way that the hole is unreachable without transporters.
This would be fine, except the game completely crashes every single time my opponent hits his ball into a transporter. So effectively I'd have to manage my strokes, beat my opponent to the hole, and hope that the AI decides not to use any transporters in order to move on.
I can tell that I’m going to love Cursed to Golf. The levels are big and interesting and the simple but effective mechanics make navigating them super fun. I am surprised at the lack of meta progression, because so many roguelite games have made me expect to be rewarded just for spending time in the game, but it also means you feel like you really have a shot at making it through each time you play.
Or, at least, it will feel that way when they fix this one tiny bug, and I can actually make it past the fourth hole.