Being cursed to golf doesn’t sound too horrible, honestly. Ironically, What the Golf? , which is a sort of “anti-Golf” game, rekindled my love for video game-based golf. I was looking forward to Cursed to Golf for quite a while, which makes my disappointment a bit more pointed.
Cursed to Golf is a roguelike golf game—or “golflife” if you prefer. In it, you play as a golf pro who is struck by lightning on the final hole of a championship, killing you instantly. You are then forced to play golf for eternity, unless you’re good enough to tackle all 18 holes and come out triumphant. It sounds like a great concept for a golf game mash-up, but I had a hard time finding the fun.
First of all, Cursed to Golf is a pretty decent golf game. It’s simplified from most golf games—instead of having a whole array of clubs to choose from, you’re given the simple choice of wedge, iron, and driver. If you’re stumped at the purpose of even those three clubs, don’t worry: Cursed to Golf makes it very easy to decide which club to use—but still gives you the ability to choose which you’d want for most occasions. The only exception is when you’re in a sand bunker or rough—with the sand bunker only letting you get out using the wedge, and the rough only allowing you select your iron or wedge.
The courses in Cursed to Golf aren’t normal golf courses—not by a long shot. They are not exactly randomly generated, but your 18 hole run will have lots of variety, as there are over 70 different holes to shoot for. These holes are full of hazards and obstacles to shoot around. There are often multiple different paths to take to get it in the hole, too, which adds more variety. And these holes can be tough, with you having to make precise shots under the ceiling of the cave-like courses, and over hazards, etc.
Unfortunately, I just never had much fun playing Cursed to Golf’s brand of golf gameplay. It relies on the old “stop the meter as it fills” trick golf games have been doing for ages, and I’m a little tired of it. Also, the holes felt a little too punishing, especially after you hit about the ninth hole or so. To make it easier, there are power-up cards you can purchase directly, or through blind packs of cards. While there are pretty good power-ups like mulligans that undo your last shots, cards that redirect you ball midflight, etc., you never get power-ups that stick with you through your run and provide fun synergy the way they do in other roguelikes.
Each hole gives you a set number of shots, and if your shot counter hits zero, you have to start all the way back at the first hole. During each hole there are different idols (silver and gold) you can hit to gain a few shots back, and there are Ace cards that give you shots back, but each shot you take essentially is another stroke towards ending your run. It’s high stakes in the perfect way—but I just never had much fun with Cursed to Golf’s form of golfing.
In Cursed to Golf you’re stuck with a pretty narrow side long view of the action. There’s a bird’s eye camera that allows you to scroll around to see obstacles and hazards, and even a view that allows you to zoom out all of the way to see the entire hole. Unfortunately, while actually taking shots your view is extremely limited, making some precision shots feel more based on luck than skill.
Since Cursed to Golf is a “golf-like” (har har)you not only have to start over when you lose a run, you also have your choice between branching paths in Cursed to Golf’s overworld map. You can choose to take on regular holes, challenging “cursed” holes that gives you debuffs based on a timer, or you can visit the Eterni-Tee Pro Shop or other locations to buy more foil cards. Unlike other roguelikes, however, you don’t really gain power-ups and amass synergistic abilities, instead all of your powers come from your one-use ace cards, which are the only things that persist through the end of a run.
I really wanted to like Cursed to Golf, but I couldn’t really enjoy its gameplay. I appreciate how it simplified club selection into three choices, but it manages to be simultaneously boring and frustrating. However, it does have some great pixel art, a good soundtrack, and a great premise. If you’re on the fence, there’s a demo on the Steam Store page you can check out for yourself.
A Steam key was provided to us for the purposes of this review.