WHAT THE GOLF? Review

A game that proves golf can still be fun

Stop. I already know what you’re thinking. “Gosh, I love WarioWare but I wish it were more like golf!” Wait, or are you the person who was thinking “Gosh I love golf, but I wish it wasn’t actually like golf at all.” Well look no further; Triband has delivered.

WHAT THE GOLF? is essentially a physics game where you’re given a short, absurd objective – generally hitting an object towards a thing. Simply drag away from where you intend to wind up your shot and let go. Truly, WHAT THE GOLF? makes me really feel like I’m playing golf. Except for when I’m putting a cat into a hot dog cart in order to consume 100 hot dogs. And when I put my lamp, couch, and chair into a moving van before smacking my entire house across the landscape. And there was that time I was hitting a television around being held back by a VCR, just as if a prisoner who was being restrained by a ball and chain was being hit with a golf club. …maybe I don’t play enough golf to know what a game about golfing should feel like.

Constantly presenting you with new situations, WHAT THE GOLF? is sure to hold your attention.

Really, the pretense of golf is just an easy to understand control scheme meant to ease the transition between levels. Rather than simply hitting a golf ball towards the hole in an especially silly mini golf game, WHAT THE GOLF? constantly changes the rules you’re playing by. One minute you’re bowling, the next you’re carefully guiding a fragile vase through a field of rocks. If the game tried to be a somewhat traditional golf game it likely wouldn’t have been successful.

Shots can feel a little sloppy and you almost never have enough time to master a new mechanic. And you’re not meant to. Where WHAT THE GOLF? really stands out is keeping your attention. Triband has iterated on virtually every conceivable idea of what you can do under the context of hitting something with a golf club, with each somehow being more amusing than the last. Combined with bite-sized levels, you’re always left with a feeling of wanting more.

Play for the achievements or high scores, or just sample the variety in gameplay.

Luckily, there is always more. After completing the necessary levels to progress, you can replay the level to have an additional challenge: more obstacles, a new map, or a limit for the number of shots you can make (the golf aficionados may recognize this as “par”) among others. Play it a third time for yet another challenge but this time with a crown as your reward. Get crowns for enough levels and you’ll unlock a little trophy for your efforts. Still more, Triband has added an additional sport-themed campaign, a party mode where you compete with a friend, daily challenges with leaderboards, a level editor and browser, and still more planned to come. There’s nothing wrong with skipping any of the challenges and modes that don’t suit you, but they’re worth trying as some of the most rewarding levels are here.

On top of this, there’s a soundtrack composed of music I can only imagine was made for the game (as hinted by most of the lyrics being variations on singing “what the golf.”) Reminiscent of Katamari at times, and a light unobtrusive melody at others, I quite enjoyed the background music, but if it’s not for you it might become a bit grating. Other than this, you’ll be greeted with a pun after each success and some more sprinkled throughout the level select world. That, and regular references to popular video games, maybe divisive but chances are if you were interested enough to read this far you’ll enjoy these.

WHAT THE GOLF? is perfect for those who want a silly physics game.

The only real problem I had was experiencing a few bugs here and there and even so, it didn’t take long to do the level a couple more times until things worked properly. That and some challenge levels were frustratingly difficult, but virtually no game exists where you can 100% it without struggling at all. Really, this is a game you can judge by its cover. If it interests you at all, it will likely exceed your expectations while if it doesn’t look like it’s for you, it’s probably not.

WHAT THE GOLF? is available on Steam, the Epic Game Store, Nintendo Switch, and Apple Arcade.

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