A swing and a miss.
As a fan of both golf games and small-scale puzzlers, to say Golfy Golf had me intrigued would be an understatement. With a pleasing visual style and simple-but-enjoyable mechanics, the game gives off a promising first impression. Sadly, it doesn’t last: while the concept is strong, Golfy Golf’s execution leaves much to be desired.
Each level of Golfy Golf takes place atop a square, grid-based map. You control the strength of your golf club’s swing with a simple click and drag of the mouse, which, at its core, is enjoyable – it’s always satisfying to score a hole from all the way across the stage. However, given that the game is grid-based and not physics-based like a typical golf game, putting doesn’t feel intuitive.
As well as this, there isn’t an immediately recognisable way to discern which square your ball will land in, as the little squares that trace the strength of your swing don’t precisely reflect the amount of squares your ball will travel. It’s not too long before you get an idea for how hard you have to swing to land in a desired square, but it’s never quite natural; it feels clumsy for a grid-based puzzle game to be based around instinct and guesswork.
Like Angry Birds, there are three stars you can earn per level. In each, the objectives for earning them are the same: complete the level, get a par of five or under and collect the egg that is placed in each level. While getting a par of under five often proves to be a nice challenge, collecting the egg is made easy as you don’t have to reach the end of the level to collect it. In fact, once you collect an egg there is no way for challenge-seekers to collect it again. Not only that, but stars are not tied to the three difficulty levels in-game – the same stars earned on easy mode will also show as being earned in hard mode. This seems like a huge oversight that tarnishes much of the potential replay value.
Often there are multiple routes to reach the goal in each level, which is nice; less nice is how one-note and samey they are. There is little depth in much of the level design – even when enemies are brought into the mix, very often the solution is just to time your shots to avoid them. Sometimes there were really strange lapses in difficulty; the entirety of the fourth world, Kleampf, was much easier than even the first world of the game. It felt a bit like the level designer was scrambling for ideas, with many levels possessing little meaningful variance.
While the in-game visuals are colourful and appealing with lots of variety per world, the user interface needs a lot of work. With large icons often devoid of text, the menus look as if they were designed for a phone game instead of a PC game. I also had trouble figuring out what certain icons were meant to represent due to their poor visual design. Curiously, an X icon that quits to the desktop hangs in the bottom-right of the screen at all times, even during gameplay, which seems really superfluous. There is very little music in the game – and what music is there becomes grating before too long.
Unfortunately, I ran into several bugs during my time with Golfy Golf. When transitioning from the loading screen to the level, frequently the loading screen text would become stuck in place in the middle of the screen for the remainder of the level. Also, it seems when clicking the developer’s social media links on the stage complete screen, it will link you to the respective page – but when returning to the game, all of the onscreen buttons will be non-responsive, forcing you to alt-tab out to close and reopen the game. While these issues are potentially fixable through updates, they denote a lack of polish and make the game feel unfinished.
After going in with high expectations, I wound up being disappointed by Golfy Golf. While there are the workings of a novel idea, it doesn’t feel like enough was done with it. With better thought-out mechanics and tighter level design, it could have had the potential to be a solid, bite-sized puzzle game. However, in its current, somewhat buggy state, Golfy Golf is marked by too many questionable design decisions to recommend.