Monday, December 18, 2017

Golf Story Review

If you would’ve told me a year ago that one of my favorite games on the new Nintendo console would be a golf game, I would’ve laughed in your face… but here we are in the year 2017 and all the rules are out the window! I had a fantastic time playing Golf Story, the role-playing/sports hybrid game that I never knew I wanted. Here are my takeaways now that I’ve finished the game:
  • The game’s story of an underdog athlete, his coach, and his condescending rival is fairly typical of the plots one would see in sports movies or TV series. What sets Golf Story apart is its effective use of humor that varies from biting commentary to utter absurdity.
  • Even though real golf courses have 18 holes, the game wisely cuts it down to 9. Having to replay an entire 18-hole course after losing a tournament would be aggravating.
  • The golf mechanics seem simple at first, but become deeper as the game goes on. Eventually, more advanced aspects such as ball spin direction, club selection, and adjusting for wind/slope are essential to succeed on the later courses. The courses also feature hazards, such as ball-stealing birds, that can be to your advantage or detriment depending on how you aim your shots.
  • While I’m generally not into golf (or most other sports for that matter), I found that carefully lining up my shots and setting my parameters and then watching the ball sail through the air, hopefully landing in the right place, to be very satisfying. This process reminded me a lot of artillery games like Scorched Earth and Worms that I used to love playing as a kid.
  • The game offers a variety of challenges and mini-games that varied a lot in their appeal. A few stand-out ones surprised me and immediately put a smile on my face, while others I cut through quickly (or skipped) so I could move on.
  • Golf Story’s music is an interesting mix of jazz, rock, and ambient pieces. Many of them were appropriate, but forgettable, while others I’ve found myself listening to even in a non-gaming context. The game cleverly has some of the tracks drop in at just the right time to set the scene really well, for example, the tense-sounding theme that plays during a sink-or-lose putt.
  • I did have two minor gripes with the game. The first being that the player can't quit or reset challenges while they are in progress. For example, if you need to make 7 shots out of 10 and miss the first 4, the game will still require you to take the next 6 shots before you can restart the challenge. The second grip is that while on the putting green, the only indication of the slope of the ground is an arrow in the corner of the screen with qualitative descriptors such as "slight" or "moderate". This vague information can make pulling off long putts more difficult than it needs to be. While these issues show some lack of polish on the part of the studio, they didn't cause me enough grief to significantly impact my enjoyment of the game.
Overall, Golf Story is a fun and quirky experience that is unlike anything else on the Nintendo Switch. If you think you have a taste for off-beat humor and also have the patience for a slow-paced game like golf, I highly recommend picking up Golf Story.

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Completion Time: About 20 hours (campaign and most side quests)

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