Golf is great in theory, but awful in practice — you get obscenely rich people playing on giant waste of space, discussing who knows what in between swings. This is why golf games are great — the same idea with no space used and no rich people. And when normal golf games are not enough (because how many times can you just drive a ball for a hundred yards) that’s where WHAT THE GOLF? comes in.
WHAT THE GOLF? is, broadly speaking, a golf game — the player tries to put a thing either in a hole or at least have the thing touch a flag. It’s also a complete mockery of golf, in the best way possible. One level you’re reenacting SUPER HOT with a golf ball, the next you’re going FPG (First Person Golf) only to do rope-based golf next.
And I loved every single part of it.
The main attraction of the game is the campaign, where you travel on the overworld as a golf ball, do singular levels that each have extra challenges for completionists, and fight with a computer boss. (A boss rush golf game? I need to write that down somewhere.)
Five? I’ve never been golfing
This game has a very consistent art style (or two rather, one 2D and one 3D), which must have not been easy to do considering how many different parodies and spins on mechanics are there. While doing 2D levels and in the overworld, the game has a nice flat visual style. In 3D it opts for a low-poly style with flat colours witha lot of cats and toasters strewn about.
Musically it also provides fun jams to go with the gameplay, with the sound effects working well. They can, however, get a bit grating if there’s a bit that you just cannot get through and the “Aww” sound effect keeps playing over and over and LET ME LIVE I’M TRYING MY BEST. Anyway, they’re fine.
Minigolf though, love me some of that
There is a ton of fun to be had with the game. In the beginning, it starts fairly standard with actual golf type tasks, but it quickly shows its real face. In the majority of the levels, the player is supposed to hit the flag. However, in certain levels you have to do it with one of the dozens of golf clubs strewn about, maybe use a rolling barrel or an office chair.
And then the golf mechanics are shot out of the window with an iron nine. (Ha, a golf joke!) The levels become more outlandish — golfing furniture to a truck and then a whole house to a new location, using an exploding barrel as a rocket to go through a forest or football (soccer for you, yankees) your way through some kids.
AND THEN the homages start. A set of levels based around portals — a classic in most 2D golf games. But SUPER PUTT isn’t! A SUPER HOT section has not been done in a golf game. Neither has been a Metal Gear Solid inspired section where you’re a box with legs trying to sneak past cameras to hit that flag.
And I loved every single section. Golf games can get boring quickly, and WHAT THE GOLF? knows exactly when a new mechanic gets boring, throws it to the side and grabs a new one from a hat full of them. And, if you want more of that one specific version of golf you can hit that level again for two extra challenges in that style.
Just by that measure it a great game, but it has even more in store. There is a Party mode which allows two people to go toe to toe in a bunch of different levels and then face off at the end. There’s a very unique Show to a Friend mode, which gives you a bunch of discrete levels to show exactly what the game is about — basically a showcase mode, and perfect for when someone asks what it is that you’re playing.
There are also daily challenges for those that want extra fun, and Impossible Challenges for those that want extra fun and hate themselves. They’re really long and difficult, I don’t think I managed to get through even a single one.
This is an intriguing dive into what makes a golf game a golf game, and how far you can stray from that while still being considered one. I personally love it enough to do every single level fully and get all of the crowns and items that one can get.