Cursed to Golf is a game I have been following for quite some time. I had the chance to have a chat with the game’s director, Liam Edwards at the end of 2021. This was before I even had a chance to play the game, but I was still super excited to talk about it. Since talking to Liam, I was able to play an early build of the game on itch.io, a demo also came to Steam earlier this year, and now the game is finally here for everyone to enjoy.
Cursed to Golf released yesterday on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Cursed to Golf is the first of its kind, a golf-like (or golf-themed rogue-like). The game begins with a nice little tutorial to open the story.
Here you learn how to use your three clubs (Drive, Iron and Wedge). You also find out how this poor little golfer ends up in Golf Purgatory. Within the opening sequence there’s a nice little nod to the game developers, with their names as our leaders in this The Eternal golf tournament. It works like an opening title sequence in a movie.
The Eternal doesn’t last very long, just long enough to teach you the basics.
Now, you are DEAD! Welcome to Golf Purgatory. It’s time for one more lesson from the Scotsman to learn how golf works a little differently down here. Your objective is to make it through 18 extremely challenging holes. If you do, you may get the chance to return to life after all.
Relaxing Roguelike vs Intense Golf Game
When it comes to golf games Cursed to Golf may fall under the more intense category. First off, you are battling your way on the golf course to get out of Golf Purgatory. Every shot must be carefully planned out. Many times I was too focused on breaking an idol for some extra shots (gold for four, silver for two). The celebration of gaining some extra shots was quickly followed by the disappointment of landing in a sand trap, or worse a body of water.
Early on this year, I spent some time playing PGA 2K21. I’d call that game more of a relaxing golf simulator when compared to Cursed to Golf. Although you can take the time to prepare every aspect of each shot, I mostly just gripped it and ripped it instead. PGA 2K21 basically sets you up for every shot. I did make minor adjustments left or right, but unless there were heavy winds I was fine hitting exactly what they gave me.
What makes Cursed to Golf a more intense golf adventure is that although you begin with a high number of shots at each hole, the numbers quickly dwindle to none. Before you know it you have one or two chances left, of course you have a collection of power cards that may reward you with extra shots and even change the path of your shot midair.
However, when it comes to roguelikes I’d place Cursed to Golf in the more relaxing category. Well, maybe relaxing isn’t the right word. Perhaps slower. You can totally speed run each hole, or you can take your time and plan out your shots. Even when you reach a boss fight, you take turns, meaning it’s not an actual race and you can plan between shots.
There are three types of holes within Cursed to Golf (or three types that I’ve encountered so far) — Regular, Cursed and Boss Holes.
Each hole features obstacles, secret passages, explosives, breakable idols, water and sand traps and more. When I finally made it into the second world, The Oasis, I learned of all new obstacles.
Cursed holes are what you get when you come to a fork in the course path and choose more rewards. The better rewards lead to a cursed hole. Cursed holes are pretty much the same as regular holes, except random curses reveal themselves throughout the hole. Curses like upside down, rain, no idols, driver lock and more. You usually get some time to prepare for these curses, with either a countdown or number of shots.
Boss holes consist of a race to the finish with a boss. Bosses may be more powerful than you whacking their balls yards further, but there are also ways to stop a boss or cancel their shots. Seeing eighteen straight holes on the mini-map could be overwhelming. So, I’m happy they broke them up into sections with boss fights.
After completing a Boss Fight, you gain a new permanent ability. After the first boss fight I received the Comeback ability, allowing me to set up a checkpoint on any hole survived.
Cursed to Golf’s game design is great all around. Each hole gives you just enough shots to make it to the end — the easy way. It’s when you discover a shortcut and begin to improvise a bit that you may reward yourself or spend too many shots or cards trying to get back on course.
At one point I came across a shortcut that would drop me straight down two or three levels in that particular hole. The problem was my next shot had to be perfectly timed and powered with the right club to not land in water. Using a U-Turn card I was able to make it past the water, but the next time I found a shortcut like that one I decided to skip it and take the long route.
Before you begin any hole, you get a little hole fly by preview showing some obstacles, interesting points, idols, and the pin. From there alone, you don’t really know the entire layout of the hole. That’s why you do get to use a fly through cam for a limited amount time throughout the hole, which I use all the time.
While each hole may look cute and simple, the design behind many of them is very complex. I can also see these being nice platforming levels like a 2D Super Mario game. Designing your own holes in a Super Cursed to Golf Maker game or mode would be a neat addition.
The outside world is laid out very simply. Visiting the Eterni-TEE golf shop is very straightforward. You have your choices to purchase new cards, change outfits, or save some cards from your hand for later in the handy card binder. Riding from hole to hole is also simply designed, with choices along the way to get rewarded for a cursed hole or stick to the normal one.
After finally beating the first boss hole (The Scotsman), I made my way to the Oasis. A new series of holes with brand new obstacles along with a new boss (The Explorer).
My main fear is that each new world will become harder and harder to the point where I may just quit. The first set of holes were pretty tough to begin with, but after playing them over and over again I was sort of able to learn how they work.
I’m thinking this may be the case with each new world. New obstacles and items may appear, but after a few tries you learn how to deal with them.
Holes aren’t the same every time, but I don’t feel that they are completely randomized. I believe holes are randomly created using different combinations. The pins themselves may also be placed anywhere on a hole, so that makes it easy to create variety.
Handheld vs TV
I was lucky enough to play both the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch versions of Cursed to Golf, and I will say that both versions feel and look pretty much identical. The ability to play Cursed to Golf in handheld mode on the Switch is more desirable to me. Although PlayStation 5 does allow for remote play, the streaming is not as smooth as playing on the Switch.
Something I realized is that while playing in handheld mode vs on the TV, I gave more attention to each shot.
While the Switch allows you to play any game in handheld mode, some games don’t work that well. Something that relies heavily on quick thumb stick jerks and movements isn’t great with those tiny joy-con sticks. The controls in Cursed to Golf are simple enough to work perfectly in handheld mode on the Switch. I would love to try it out on the Switch OLED model (I still own my original Nintendo Switch), or even the Steam Deck.
There’s one more thing I didn’t mention yet, but it’s probably the best mechanic in Cursed to Golf — ball spin!
I remember playing tons of Tiger Woods Golf games on older consoles, and I was great only because I could correct my poor shots by adding spin and controlling where the ball would bounce and roll.
Any time I’ve played a golf video game ever since — whether there is a ball spin mechanic or not — I will mash buttons and point in the direction I want the ball to roll. Even if it doesn’t work, I still feel like I’m doing something. It’s like I’m thinking, perhaps this game had a ball spin mechanic during some early build, and the ghost of that mechanic still lives somewhere deep inside?
Now enjoy this highlight reel of some holes I survived in Cursed to Golf — mainly due to ball spin.
Cursed to Golf is finally out for everyone to enjoy, and I’m really excited. Most of the time, the most anticipated games for gamers are those big AAA titles, like the upcoming God of War: Ragnarok and Hogwarts Legacy. Still, every so often a simple indie game like Cursed to Golf is released and it truly is something special.
Maybe it’s because Cursed to Golf takes some concepts from past games (rogue-likes, sports games, platformers) and mashes them together into something fresh and new.
I look forward to unlocking new destinations in Cursed to Golf. I most likely see myself continuing my journey on the Nintendo Switch — mainly because I can take it anywhere.
I don’t know if there will be any updates down the road, but I would love to see them try out some new modes. Maybe a longest ball or hole in one type mode. It will also be cool to see what kind of highlights and crazy shots come out of the community. As I was playing I kept on saving footage, just because it was something cool.
I will continue to play Cursed to Golf, and share new highlights of my journey online.
Cursed to Golf is out now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
*myVGBC.com was given a review code for Cursed to Golf.