Clever writing, strange challenges make Golf Story so engaging

A large part of Golf Story's fun are the odd, strange challenges it throws at players.
A large part of Golf Story's fun are the odd, strange challenges it throws at players.PHOTO: NINTENDO/SIDEBAR GAMES

True to its innocuous-sounding name, Golf Story revolves around the titular sport, but is also an intensely enjoyable experience with clever writing and an engaging story that will endear this Switch game even to non-golf fans.

The indie darling, developed by Sidebar Games, follows the tradition of fan favourite sport role-playing games such as Mario Tennis and, yes, Mario Golf, but with its own absurd, comedic and amusing take on the genre.

It begins with the simple premise of the player-character joining a golf club while in the throes of a mid-life crisis, as he attempts to rise to the ranks of golf champion. That is where the role-playing elements meld with a simple golf simulator, as you gain experience points that you can use to level up the power, precision, spin and ability of your strikes.

The golfing mechanics are smooth and easy to pick up, with gameplay boiling down to three options: club choice, power and precision. As courses grow more complex, things like wind direction and slope steepness start to complicate every drive, chip and putt.

It may take a while for newcomers to the genre to get used to the mechanics, though, as not a lot of information is provided in-game about the levelling process.

Those looking simply to play a round or two of digital golf can head straight into quick play mode, where players can replay their favourite courses.

But it is the delightful main story that seals the deal for Golf Story, which cleverly integrates golfing mechanics into a wider game world.

When the only tool you have is a golf club, everything starts looking like a golf ball. And a large part of the game's fun are the odd, strange challenges it throws at you that you solve by - you guessed it - playing golf. A boy refusing to heed his mother's call to come out of an alligator-infested pond? Hit a drive at his face to get him to come to his senses and win the admiration of his mother in the process.

The wacky, colourful cast of characters and wickedly funny dialogue also make the game world feel alive. The old-school pixel art stands out visually as well, giving the game a nostalgic, retro feel.

Expect to sink around 15 to 20 hours on the game, and more if you decide to gun for all the challenges and unlock Easter eggs, which is more than worth the price of entry.

Lester Hio

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Clever writing, strange challenges make Golf Story so engaging'. Print Edition | Subscribe