Review | Golf Club: Wasteland
Golf Club: Wasteland is unlike any other video game that I’ve played centered around the sport of golf. There’s a charm in its simplicity juxtaposed to an eerie backstory and nuanced social commentary. It was an interesting if cynical reminder as to where the world is heading. Demagog Studio has taken the mundane idea of golf and made it something refreshing, relaxing, challenging and thought provoking. I never thought I’d be thinking about the end of humanity and the shortcomings of the powerful with such conviction while playing a video game about golf, but here we are.
The story goes as follows; at some point in the future, the Earth has been decimated by catastrophic natural disasters. The richest humans board rockets to Mars and live. What remains of Earth has become a luxury golf resort of sorts. It comes complete with flags, beautiful mountains, neon signs, and waterfalls. You take on the role of an unnamed protagonist equipped with a spacesuit and jet pack who takes a trip to Earth for one last game of golf. There are lots of nods to the real-world and pop culture across the many stages. Even Donald Trump’s famous ‘covfefe’ tweet gets a mention in a stage by way of a neon sign.
The atmosphere this game creates is unlike any other of that I’ve heard. All the 2D backgrounds are beautiful and invoke feelings of security and melancholy. Silhouettes of animals, trees, and an anonymous spectator all compliment the futuristic feel of the stage. For a game about the post-apocalypse, everything feels rather inviting.
Golf Club: Wasteland controls simply and efficiently. You aim your shot, measure the amount of distance you want to cover, and the amount of height you want to achieve all with the left analog stick. The game gives a limited amount of shots for each hole, so each shot counts. Obstacles are creative and can be difficult to navigate.
I picked up Golf Club: Wasteland expecting it to be rather easy; I was mistaken. The levels require you to shoot the orange golf ball over large bodies of water and over hazards like fire. A nice touch is that the ball physics react to the texture of whatever terrain it’s on. For instance, you can only hit a ball in a sand trap so high and so far, and balls bounce of some surfaces better than others. A lot of trial and error is required, especially after the the fifth or sixth level. For those that would rather enjoy the game without all of the challenge; there is a ‘Story Mode’ in which there are unlimited attempts to make a shot.
What surprised me about this game is the surprisingly deep lore. For an indie-game about golfing, there’s a lot to ponder over. As you complete different holes, you’ll unlock diary entries that provide further insight as to how the fortunate humans got to Mars. The best story-driven aspect of the game is the Radio Nostalgia From Mars. It’s essentially a radio show that takes calls from Mars’ inhabitants to share their thoughts on what they miss about Earth and what they’re up to on Mars.
The narrators’ smooth voice will also cue in to remind us to follow the rules that Mars inhabitants must follow. For example, it really is kind of grim and really paints a faint, fictional picture of a potential reality. When not conducting Radio Nostalgia interviews, you’re treated to a great assortment of tracks from a variety of genres. Some of which play into the central theme of the game.
Golf Club: Wasteland caught my eye as a game that was visually pleasing with an interesting twist. It was far more than I expected, showcasing a ton of value. I found it to be a fun, challenging and interesting spin of what our future could be. While it is short, roughly four hours or so, it’s exceptionally effective with the time it provides. With over 30 stages and tons of dialogue, Demagog Studio has clearly spent a lot of time thinking about the future. Here, they’ve made a game to represent that.
Final Score: 8 out of 10