Cursed to Golf on PS5
Cursed to Golf is an exciting mixture. From viewing the trailer, it seemed like any other 2D golf game, in that you simply complete courses and continue onward. The truth is far, far stranger. Instead, Cursed to Golf is all about being dead and using golf as a way to ascend back to the land of the living through some very roguelike progression.
The game starts with the player (named The Champ) one hole away from winning the final championship needed to crown them the Greatest of All Time. Unfortunately, on the final stroke, their club is struck by lightning and they die. Instead of ending up anywhere else, they awaken in Golf Purgatory. While being dead isn’t great, Golf Purgatory offers the chance to escape for anyone who can finish all 18 holes in one round and ascend.
The golfing gameplay is rather simple. Players are given only three clubs to progress through holes, a driver for long-distance, an iron for middle-distance shots with more arc, and a wedge to make up for elevation issues and take short-range shots. These clubs don’t receive any sort of upgrades, either, the way they handle at the start of the game is how they handle at the end. Shots are made by setting power and then it’s all down to timing as the aim line moves up and down at a speed depending on the type of club.
That’s not to say there’s no trickery to be found in Cursed to Golf. Players are also given Ace Cards which can save you from a near-loss or open up shortcuts. These cards can freeze water hazards, let you change the mid-flight trajectory of the ball once it’s been hit, or even add a rocket to the ball to let the player guide it themselves. Collecting these is a big deal and can very easily mean the difference between a win or loss. This is a fun mechanic, but also kind of undermines a win being about skill.
However, wins aren’t simply about making it to the cup in a low number of strokes. From the start of each hole, you are given five strokes which are considered Par. If you reach zero without sinking the ball into the cup, the run is over. Ace Cards can add several strokes at a time to Par, but for the most part, Idols are what you will be aiming for to keep afloat. Idols come in two varieties, silver and gold. When hit by the ball, silver idols add two strokes to par and gold adds four.
Cursed to Golf also allows something most golf games don’t. You can cancel shots even after the power is locked in. There’s no telling how many times this saved me. Without being able to do this, it’s likely finishing a run would be just about impossible.
Actually progressing in a run is where the roguelike aspects come in. Navigating to the next hole involves following one of two paths that essentially give the player a choice in difficulty. One path typically leads to money and Ace Cards but then ends in a Cursed Hole. The other has a normal hole, and it’s not much of a challenge, but you miss out on the rewards. Holes themselves are not random, but the sequence in which you experience them will be different just about every time.
Cursed Holes are normal holes but as you progress you are handed limited time (typically last for a shot or two) curses. These can be anywhere from you can only shoot to the right or it might rain, which removes all surface bounce. These can also fully ruin you as you can be down to your last shot and get the curse that disables Ace Cards, pretty much guaranteeing an end to your run.
Whether intentional or not, I discovered an easy technique to save runs. When you’re in a bad position, you can simply quit the game back to the title screen and then load back into the game. This will place you back before the current hole started as the game only saves after hole completion. Considering the occasional brutal difficulty of Cursed to Golf, I am by no means ashamed to say I thoroughly abused that.
Every area ends in a boss fight in which you must make it to the cup before the boss can. These (all three) are against an opponent who is either much more skilled than you or who can modify the hole to slow you down. These boss fights feel largely unfair, as you are then forced to take on shortcuts you normally wouldn’t and burn cards at a quicker rate than you might during typical holes.
The bright side to this is you only ever have to beat each boss once, any subsequent runs from the start will have the boss hole replaced with a normal hole. Considering each boss hole is the same every time, it would be an awful chore to have to simply repeat the same pattern every time to win especially considering the challenge posed.
Cursed to Golf is nice because while it has many roguelike elements, it doesn’t inspire the same level of anxiety to progress as other roguelikes. The game putting the choice of difficulty complete in the hands of the player is a nice touch and lets you pick your own risk and reward. Considering the golf aspect, players can easily take this game at their own pace and take advantage of one of the many paths a hole might allow. If you’ve been itching for a solid golf game with just the right amount of challenge, Cursed to Golf is for you.
- Challenging gameplay.
- Holes feature more than one path to completion.
- Ace Cards up the entertainment value and strategy.
- Can cancel a shot even after setting power level.
- Sometimes success comes down to complete luck rather than skill.
- Boss courses require shortcut trickery to win.