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Golf Club: Wasteland Review (PC)
#1      Golf Club: Wasteland Review (PC)

key review info

    Game: Golf Club: Wasteland
    Platform: PC
    Show system requirements
    Gamepad support: Yes 
    Reviewed on: September 10, 2021 20:33 GMT
    Written by: Cosmin Vasile

Golf Club: Wasteland artwork

A twelve-stroke limit does exist in the real world, so this gold game is clearly pushing the limits of the rules of the sport. But, then again, golfing today does not involve a massive statue, a big crane, and easily scarred seagulls. I need to carefully consider my path to the hole and the best way to stay under the limit, factoring in two or maybe three misses. My first attempt at a long shot doesn’t land in a good place. I might find it actually difficult to reach that hole in under twelve strokes.

Golf Club: Wasteland was put together by Demagog Studio and published by Untold Tales. I played it on the PC using Steam, but it is also available on the Nintendo Switch, the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One. The game doesn’t focus on the sport from its title but mixes genres and ideas in cool ways.

The story is focused on one lone former inhabitant of Earth, who has survived a massive apocalypse that forced all the rich people to board rockets and move to Mars. They live in Tesla City (with the less well-off people probably dead) and take trips back to the home planet to play golf among the ruins. This is a pretty depressing setup for a golfing game, but the developers have more to offer. As the player moves through holes he gets more details about the world, peppered with nostalgia, regret, and humor. There are plenty of visuals that add to the atmosphere but most of the narrative work is done by Radio Nostalgia from Mars.

This is the only station that our golfer is willing to listen to, a clear indication of his own feelings towards Earth and the move to the Red Planet. And the content that fills his bubble helmet is a mix of music, designed to evoke the big hits of the past two decades, and plenty of short confessional segments, allowing a cast of characters to talk about their own experiences.

To unlock more diary entries and understand this post-apocalyptic world players need to get good at golf. I never played this sport in the real world. But I engaged with quite a bit of video game golf and this implementation is both easy to understand and hard to master. The player can zoom out and pan to find the hole they need to reach. They then simply move their mouse or controller to set the trajectory and strength of their swing.

It takes experimentation to get a feel for where the golf ball goes and how trajectories interact with the environment and the various hazards. There are 35 holes to deal with and the difficulty level slowly increases, with some levels moving into frustrating territory. But this is mostly a laid-back and fun take on golf.
Play Video

I think everyone should play Golf Club: Wasteland using Story mode at first, which reveals just enough of the narrative with no failure state. Anyone who wants more can then move on to Challenge mode. Anyone who is looking for an additional level of difficulty can also pick Iron Mode, where exceeding stroke limits restarts the course. I like the way this game takes a narrative premise and a gameplay concept that have little relation to one another and mixes them to reveal a cool experience. The critique of modern capitalism is a little too on the nose, but the rest of the story bits are all engaging and fun. Just make sure to turn the difficulty down if the actual golfing becomes annoying.

Golf Club: Wasteland is a good-looking indie game. There’s plenty of variety when it comes to the levels and the character animations have been lovingly crafted, with a focus on how he reacts to frustration. The environment evokes some of the best and worst elements of modern-day Earth and the way the catastrophe has changed them is interesting. But the coolest element of the presentation is the audio. Radio Nostalgia from Mars is an incredible achievement. It manages to mix a set of cool tunes (try to listen to the lyrics) and some well-crafted character-driven segments to make the world of the game come alive.

The Good

    Narrative delivery
    World atmosphere
    Variety of game modes

The Bad

    Limited gameplay
    Some golf frustration
    Could have used a few more holes

Golf Club: Wasteland is a good game but not because of the quality of its actual golfing experience. Putting balls into holes is serviceable. There are some well-designed levels but there are also some frustrating ones. Don’t feel any guilt if you play on Story mode and get as much of the narrative as you can, without bothering with hazards or limits.

But the developers at Demagog understand how to create atmosphere and how to let the world tell a story. Radio Nostalgia is an impressive achievement, especially the songs. The team does need to find a game theme and a set of mechanics that allows them to flex their world-building muscles in more expansive ways than Golf Club: Wasteland can.

Review code provided by the publisher.

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