Can a golf game be considered a good golf game if the game in question isn’t really a golf game? I mean What the Golf? has golf in the title and there are putters and golf balls but to consider it a pure “golf” game would be inaccurate. Advertised as a golf game for those who hate golf, What the Golf? is indeed that in every sense.
What the Golf? might be the most unusual, batshit crazy game I have played this year. The sheer amount of nonsense you will experience while playing is remarkable and honestly a breath of fresh air.
Breaking it down to its most basic premise, you navigate a golf course and try to get the ball from point A to point B while completing different objectives throughout. Sounds simple, but the true strength of What the Golf? lies within its ability to mess with your expectations.
When it comes to most games, nine times out of ten, you’ll know what to expect while playing. You understand the game and your place within it, but in What the Golf?, everything is a mystery. Your objective, your obstacle and even what you are controlling.
Mechanically the game is extremely simple. You just pull back on your phone, fill up the meter and fire away – easy, right? Yet the scenarios in which these mechanisms are used are increasingly more absurd and creative. You’ll always have to get an object from point A to B but the object in question and means of traversal are seldom the same. Will you be hitting a golf ball? The putter? The nearby rocks? The human? This leads to moments of absolute craziness. It plays with your expectations in a way that will have you laughing hysterically. It oozes charm in ways most games only wish they could. There have been more times than I can count where I found myself literally laughing out loud. I’ll be laying in bed, quiet as a mouse only to let out a huge HA! scaring my wife. It’s these moments of madness that elevate What the Golf? into brilliance.
The themes are constantly evolving and What the Golf? is always throwing new and inventive ways for you to complete a course. Each course must be played up to 3 times to earn the highest ranking but each time the rules change. Sometimes the change could be as simple as requiring you to complete it with fewer strokes but often it introduces a completely different rule. This ensures that repetition is rarely a factor. You’ll have entire clusters of stages that parody popular indie games like Super Meat Boy and even Super Hot.
A golf game that parodies Super Hot, yes, I’m serious.
Each world is vastly different from the last, keeping things fresh and retaining a level of curiosity about what could be next. And, it doesn’t keep its parodies to aesthetics. What the Golf? finds ways to incorporate game mechanics from the games it is drawing inspiration from. Remember, all you will be doing is pulling your finger back and filling a meter but eventually, you’ll be shooting guns and platforming over saw blades.
Beating all three challenges of a course is never too difficult, making you want to complete everything and collect every weird trophy. It’s not necessarily a game that will test your skills, but that isn’t the point – it wants to entertain you with its wackiness. There are easily over 100 stages to play three times over, making it a pretty meaty mobile game. Even the hub world turns into its own little navigational puzzle. Each new section of stages within the hub has its own theme with little obstacles and minor changes that adds to the personality of the game. There is even cute little boss battles between sections, which pose absolutely no challenge, but they’re a fun little distraction.
What the Golf? is a constant joy, delivering surprises from start to finish. The way it messes with your expectations is a true achievement in game design and it will have you laughing out loud more times than you can count.
Mechanically, it’s simple and doesn’t pose much of a challenge, but that only highlights the game’s hilarity and madness. The way it pays homage to popular indie games is extremely clever, especially considering the core mechanics never change.
You can currently play What the Golf? through an Apple Arcade subscription, but those without an iPhone should absolutely pick this gem up. It’s absolutely worth your time and money.