Golf Club: Wasteland

released on Jun 20, 2018

Human life is wiped out. Earth is now a golf course for the ultra-rich.

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I was not having a great time while I played Golf Club: Wasteland. The game is slow in everything it does. Having to watch the player character physically move to the ball's location after every shot was mind-numbing. I was aware that all the downtime was meant to focus my attention on the radio station that plays throughout the game's runtime (which clearly received a ton of effort and care from the development team), but all the clever social commentary and worldbuilding was absolutely not enough to make up for the controls.
This is not a great golf game. It will definitely land somewhere near the bottom of my "Weird Golf Games RANKED" list simply because the golfing is not fun. Aiming and judging distance are both imprecise and felt like guesswork each time. Combine that with unclear terrain effects that seemed to alter surface friction and driving distance at random, and you've got yourself a frustrating time. It was never difficult, it just felt like slapping a ball around with a pool noodle, hoping it'd eventually go where i was aiming. The only thing that kept me from tapping out after ten holes was realizing there were only 35 of them in the entire game. Might as well finish it if it's that short, right?
Through the rest of the game, I found some interesting level design, some chuckle-worthy logos and graffiti messages, but the golf always felt bad. The stellar radio station recordings were carrying the whole game. Soon enough, the 35th hole was over, and there was a brief cutscene. It was pretty much what I had expected it would be based on what had transpired up until that point, and didn't really do anything for me. While the credits rolled, I debated whether to rate this 2 or 2.5 stars.
But after the credits, an epilogue titled "Charlie's Odyssey" appeared in the form of a storybook. About 50 illustrated pages detailing the character's story, including previously-unseen backstory that occurred before the game's beginning as well as an alternate angle on the game's events. Before reading that epilogue, I felt utterly and cynically nonplussed by Golf Club: Wasteland's story. Yet somehow, this final straightforward telling of the story I had just experienced completely recontextualized the whole thing for me. It retroactively made me appreciate what I had played.
Now, I have no idea if this epilogue was added out of necessity or simply because the devs liked the idea, but without Charlie's Odyssey, the whole package would not have landed for me. This is a completely unique experience for me, where a game is saved by its coda. I went from dislike to appreciation in just under 55 pages. What a weird thing!

This game is what the youth call a “vibe”. But the golfing itself is not particularly fun, with only one club that feels inconsistent and an overemphasis on precise shots onto tiny platforms.

I like everything about this game besides the gameplay, but it's a short enough experience I can let it slide.
Game looks and sounds fantastic, there's a surprising amount of lore and storytelling for a basic 2d mini golf.
Loved the radio station! It was haunting and chill, really uplifted the whole thing.
I played on Switch and got frosrated fairly quickly, even on low sensitivity it was hard to aim and it like the one mechanic the game have. Oddly there's no touch controls at all.
About half way through I switched to story mode and didn't look back.

Great music, wonderful atmosphere, some actual golf-platforming challenge(?) that left me very satisfied. Not super long, but if it was much longer I think it would overstay it's welcome. Great concept, great execution. Excited to see what comes next!
Honestly, my biggest complaint is the slow transition to the pause menu. If I mess up my first shot I'd just want to start the level over but I have to watch the 3-4 second transition every single time first.

The gameplay is simple, levels' design is good indeed. If you wanna relax and worry about our future at the same time, this is definitely the right game.