“Why,” is my initial reaction to games involving golf. It’s not a game I enjoy playing in real life, much less virtually. Fortunately, Golf Club: Wasteland is less about men in polo shirts (sorry if you’re into that sort of thing) than an atmospheric version of Angry Birds. And having said this, I really want you to dispel all images of green pigs and rotund birds because those thoughts would, I think, do the game a great disservice.
Golf Club: Wasteland is more of an art piece describing the story of a pilot living in a post-apocalyptic future. Earth has been turned into a desolate landscape of human waste. The humans themselves have gone to populate Mars, only returning to Earth to play golf in the ruins of civilization. The polo shirts are replaced with hazmat suits; the golf carts replaced with jetpacks. These, coupled with beautiful yet barren backdrops, make you feel like you are indeed on your last solo mission to a bygone era.
I never once thought, “Ew, I’m playing golf.” And that is a testament to the game devs from Demagog Studio because 95% of the time that is what you are doing. I’ll cover the other 5% very soon. But first, the gameplay. It’s simple. You control a little astronaut golfer dude. Hold on the screen to get him into golf stance. Drag away from the direction you want to go and adjust your angle accordingly. Release to let the club fly. The astronaut then walks or jetpacks to the new ball location. Rinse and repeat until that little orange ball gets into the flagged hole.
There were some issues with my finger going off the edge of the screen while dragging and the game interpreting that as a swing. I lost many a ball to accidental plays such as this. I do wish that there was a way for the game to recognize this and return your guy to neutral stance instead. However, it’s a small niggle. Just remember to give your finger plenty of room to travel.
As for the 5% I previously mentioned, this is like the cherry on top. This is the time that you’ll spend delving into the story. And it’s not like the game vomits text at you. There’s no trawling through lore or red herring side quests. Instead, the story is told to you through bite-size chunks: short sentences at the start of each level, plus bits of the Pilot’s personal log if you make the goal for each hole.
But the real cherry on top of the cherry, if there is such a thing, is the “Radio Nostalgia from Mars” soundtrack. Peppered with music, survivor stories and the voice of a radio DJ, it’s the kind of thing that’ll make you relaxed even if you’re stuck trying to make par for the 18th time. It’s so well-crafted that you don’t realize how much of the flavour of the environment is infused in this concept until you toggle it off (and I don’t know why you’d ever do this).
Aside from this, the audio is brilliant enough that I’m actually writing a second paragraph about it. I remember at one point hearing a dog barking through my headphones. I assumed it was my neighbour’s dog going crazy until it had gone on for a lot longer than the neighbour’s dog normally barks. It was at that point that I realized it was coming from the game audio, which was so well mixed to give you a sense of experiencing it in the real world. And that is the kind of standard you can expect from the entire game soundtrack.
It’s a short game – about two days worth of good entertainment. Three days if you’re going to try unlock all the Personal Logs (which I think is worth doing). So yeah, not long, but still less than the price of one cappuccino. If I were to change anything, it’d be streamlining the longwinded process you need to go through to find out the stroke goal for each level. I’m the kind of person who wants to gauge how well I’m doing and it would have been nice to have it listed at the start of the level, or one button click away.
Other than that, Golf Club: Wasteland is definitely one I’d recommend, even if you have an aversion to the sport.