Golf Story is a game that I always meant to write a full review of. Unfortunately, despite it’s very strong start, I ended up falling off pretty hard. But, the random number generator seems to want me to talk about it, so here we are. Don’t take this as a full review, I have not finished the game, but here are my thoughts so far.
There are tons of RPGs out there, to a point where finding unique ones can be pretty difficult. While Golf Story is not the first golf game to have RPG elements in it, I can’t think of any that ran with that concept this far. There’s a full on leveling up system, side quests, NPCs for flavor dialogue, all the things you’d expect from your typical RPG. But, it’s also a golf game.
The golf itself is pretty standard. You select your club, although the game typically defaults you to the one you want, and then you swing. You have to hit the A button three times to hit the ball. Once to start your swing, again when a meter fills up to the desired amount of power, and a third time to determine how straight the ball will fly. There’s also terrain and wind that will affect the length and accuracy of your shot.
As I said before, the thing that makes Golf Story stand out is the fact that it’s also an RPG, and one that doesn’t take itself very seriously. You play as someone who gave up on their goal to be a golfer long ago, but has finally decided to get back into the game. In your quest to be a true golfer, you come across a lot of wacky characters, like a coach who won’t take you seriously, a grounds keeper who’s convinced of an evil conspiracy involving gophers, and a human golf simulator. It’s all very weird, and I like it for what it is.
As you complete both story and side quests, you’ll earn money and experience. Money can be used to buy new clubs, and experience levels you up. When you level, you get to apply points to different stats. I never fully understood the system, but I’ll admit that that could be entirely my fault. When you add points to one category, it seems to take away from others, and I really can’t figure out why. As a result, I have no idea if what I’m doing is the “right” way to level up. If this was explained somewhere, I totally missed it.
Like a lot of small indie games, Golf Story uses the aesthetic of an old 8-bit game. While obviously actually doing more than what an NES was capable of in its day, the look and sounds of the game are very charming. Every character is very distinct and the music has been stuck in my head all day today. It’s very good stuff.
Where the game falls apart for me is its repetitiveness. Don’t get me wrong, the golf is fun, but when that’s all you really do, it gets kind of old. You get presented with a lot of different objectives throughout the game, like hitting targets or getting to a hole within a certain number of shots, but at the end of the day, they all boil down to just playing golf. I don’t know that I have a great solution in mind for this problem, but it’s a big part of why I stopped playing. In the little bit I played today, I was reminded of just how charming the game is, but then quickly remembered why I stopped.
I think people should check this game out. It’s pretty unique and has some great writing and fun gameplay. I would strongly recommend playing the game in short bursts, however. I found it to be pretty easy to burn out if you don’t put it down for a while. Hopefully, I’ll find time to play some more of it soon.