Out today, Cursed to Golf reminds us just how good 2D golfing games can be.
There aren’t a great deal of them out there, surprisingly enough. Last year’s Golf Club Wasteland did it, bringing challenging golfing to an apocalyptic setting. Cursed to Golf takes it one step further: forget the apocalypse, this is literal golf purgatory. And to get out, you’re going to have to golf like your life depends on it.
With courses designed like classic platforming levels, it’s your job to navigate your ball up or down various levels, avoiding typical pitfalls like rough patches and water holes. There are more tricky, devilish traps too, like spikes, TNT, and even curses that do nefarious things like turn your screen upside down for a shot or two. Fail to reach the goal in a set number of shots, and it’s game over: back to the beginning you go, doomed to keep trying until you beat all 18 holes.
You’re not on your own, though. You have a range of cards to help you out, each with various boosts and perks. One might blow up nearby TNT, opening up a helpful shortcut. Another might let you undo your last shot if you completely messed it up. They’re not all useful depending on your situation, but it’s good to have a handful of cards at the ready – just in case.
Also there to help you out on a course are various statues that, if you hit them with your ball, will grant you extra shots. Most of the time, you’ll need them. Few courses are easy enough to complete with your default five shots, and so aiming for the silver or gold statues (granting you an extra two or four shots, respectively) becomes key. Even then, on Cursed to Golf‘s trickiest courses, it’s still not going to be easy to reach the flag.
That’s part of the fun, though. Roguelikes are rarely easy, and this is no exception. Failure is part of the package, and with each new attempt comes the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Don’t expect to learn the ins-and-outs of each course though: unsurprisingly, they’re randomised each time, so you can never quite know what to expect. You’ll come to recognise similar features, though, and (hopefully) learn how to utilise them, like blowers that help your ball travel in a certain direction, or shortcuts to help you reach the flag quicker.
Cursed to Golf may be a far cry from an authentic game of golf, but it does borrow some features from it. You’ll have to change clubs depending on your situation, for example. The driver is good for long shots, the iron is handy for shorter, more powerful hits, and the wedge is useful when you need to get a bit of height. Learning what club is best in any given situation is a challenge in itself, but at least you can preview the rough trajectory of a ball before you hit it.
Perhaps our only problem with Cursed to Golf is its repetitiveness. Of course, it’s the nature of golf, and the nature of the roguelike genre in general. But to really gel with this charming retro-styled adventure, you’re going to have to really like playing golf. After all, the name itself says it all: you’ve been cursed to golf. It’s obviously slower-paced than more action-focused roguelikes, and so it’s all too easy to invest a lot of time in acing several holes, only to be sent back to the beginning again when you do eventually mess up. It feels more punishing here, somehow.
Still, enter into Cursed to Golf knowing you’re going to get a roguelike golf game – and a very good one at that – and it’s hard to be disappointed. It looks great, it plays great, and it seriously challenges your mettle. What more can you want from a roguelike, really? (Golf. If the answer is golf, you’re onto a winner.)
Cursed to Golf is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.