Posted on 05 Nov 2018 by L Coulsen

Cheap Golf

The Defence

Developer: PixelJam
Publisher: PixelJam
Genre: Action, Indie, Sport
Platform: Mac, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: No data.

The Prosecution

Minimum
OS: Linux, Windows
CPU: Intel 1 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia Any
AMD equivalent
RAM: 500 MB
HDD: 100 MB
DirectX:
Controller: None
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: Unknown

The Case

Hello, my name is Susan. I want to take you on a journey into what it means to be alive. But talk is cheap, and so is golf. The two, consciousness and golf, are intimately intertwined in a dance of supreme, beatific elegance. Cats are funny. That’s why there are so many YouTube videos about them. But have you ever wondered, what is it actually like to be a cat? Well let’s see if Cheap Golf is any good, then.

The Trial

My word, but this game is terrible. Aiming for, an perfectly achieving, the cheapest, laziest visual aesthetic one can hope to attain. A theme which remains consistent with the core gameplay. You click your mouse on the ball, pull it back, let go. Profit! Angle and distance you pull back affect the direction and velocity of the ball respectively. And that’s pretty much it.

There are obstacles along the way, some moving, some that will eat your ball (like a lake for example) and cost you your shot. But it really is as simple as it sounds. Honestly, it’s hard to point to any game where the title so perfectly encapsulates what it is. This really is a cheap, terrible, game. And I love it.

Heh, balls.

It’s rare to see something that intentionally aims for that “so bad it’s good” niche and actually pulls it off. Rarer still to see one that manages to curl back around like a retarded ouroboros eating its own tail, only to land in the “so bad it’s amazing” camp. But that is precisely what Pixel Jam have managed to pull off here. Know exactly what they were doing, and how to do it, they produced an immediately addictive, and weirdly compelling, game of golf with…a narrative?

Yeah, seriously. That’s actually a story in here too. Not in the traditional sense perhaps, but interjected between the courses are increasingly esoteric and existential snippets of dialogue with an AI that names herself Susan. As you progress, you will see her grow from the most rudimentary of responsive systems to a fully fleshed out, and intriguing, new person.

I love you too, honey.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking about a genuine AI here. This is, of course, all scripted. And though there are some, limited, choices you can make to respond to Susan, the quality of the writing is deceptively thoughtful. Making this one of those occasions where you come from the stupidity, and stay for the existential angst.

The Verdict

Or, in short, this is a terrible game. And I love it. This may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it is indeed simple (or cheap) enough that it can be an easy, short term time sink. Or a moving exploration on the nature of cognition. It really depends on you, and we cannot recommend this enough.

Case Review

  • Cheap: Yep, it certainly is.

  • The Title: This is the most accurate title for…well, anything really. It does what it says on the tin.

  • Simple: Cheap Golf isn’t trying to be anything more than it is, mechanically speaking at least.

  • Susan: No matter how much you wish it, she will never be your waifu.

5 Score: 5/5
This game is terrible

Appeal

3.5 Score: 3.5/5

Cheap Golf. The title invokes the idea of being a bit naff for me. Thankfully, that appears to be what the developers were going for. With graphics inspired by consoles from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s there’s a welcoming aesthetic for fans of the disco era hardware. Cheap Golf isn’t just chunky pixels and bleep bloop sound effects; there’s a quite clever action puzzle game just begging to be discovered. You might be dodging ball destroying panels while nudging your golf ball onto and of of one-line elevators or belting it full power off of the walls for a hole in one. The levels start gentle and ramp up the challenge at a decent pace so you’re never left in the cold by a major difficulty spike.

Cheap Golf‘s main draw though is the interaction with an “AI” called Susan that interacts with you between levels. She’s mildly antagonistic, slinging sarcastic comments and deliberately ignoring your choices when you make one. It’s a gimmick that could have easily been obnoxious and irritating but Pixeljam have pulled it off with aplomb as they usually do. Susan interacts with you via text for the first two episodes but in the third and final episode she gains a voice.

Cheap Golf is a mix of genius, from the marketing campaign with Susan on Twitter, to links to actual websites, and level design that will make you think “ooh, that’s clever” (in a milquetoast mum voice, naturally) when your ball teleports a dozen times or a hole-in-one opportunity appears through the seemingly random noise of a hectic level bursting with hazards. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though; some levels have you collecting Adventure style keys while avoiding hazards and they can be absolutely infuriating. Overall I’d say the outcome is a net positive for Cheap Golf, if you’re a fan of Pixeljam’s other games then it’s probably a must-play. If you’re not a fan you might still be surprised by Cheap Golf.

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Comments (1)


Posts: 332
L Coulsen
Posted 06 Nov 2018, 20:59
All the feelthinks.

All of them!