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February 2019


Platform(s): PC
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Chorus Worldwide
Developer: ArcticNet
Release Date: May 9, 2018


PC Review - 'RPGolf'

by Cody Medellin on July 3, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

RPGolf blends the talking and questing of an adventure game with precision and power of golf.

Mixing up the sport of golf with an RPG isn't a new thing. Japan-only release Battle Golfer Yui was a Sega Genesis game that was surprisingly good, and people remember the Game Boy Color classic Mario Golf with extreme fondness. Golf Story also did this recently on the Nintendo Switch, and that was a fantastic game in that system's breakout first year. On the PC, there's the port of the mobile game RPGolf, and by all accounts, it should be a good game that would benefit greatly from its low price point. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to its potential.

The narrative is as odd as the game's idea, but in a good way. In a faraway land, the citizens of a kingdom loved the sport of golf and would play it any chance they could. Unfortunately, this meant that they weren't prepared when monsters appeared, so they retreating to their homes once the monsters took over the golf courses. It was then that a brave girl set out to rid the kingdom of the monsters, so she could play in the greatest golf course known to man.

One of the more interesting things to note immediately is that there's no distinction between the golf and RPG combat sections. The overworld and dungeons are where the RPG sections take place, but once you walk over to the ball, the golf sections take over seamlessly. There are no loading screens, and the enemies actually play a role in the golf sections if you don't get rid of them first. It is an interesting take on the whole thing but nice nonetheless.

Once you start golfing, you'll notice that the mechanics are a throwback to how golf games were done decades ago. There's no analog stick control or even the traditional three-button press procedure. Instead, you press one button to initiate the swing and then press another button to determine swing strength. Everything else is familiar to video game golf fans, as you can hit a specific part of the ball for spin and select different clubs to get a better idea of how far you want the ball to travel.

There are a few elements in RPGolf that golf fans will find interesting. Your swings are determined by both your health and your mana. The former works in conjunction with your club to determine  how far you can drive the ball, while the latter determines the speed of the strength bar. It makes sense in the context of this world, but it also means that you'll need to stock up on potions so you have a good chance of making par. You'll never magically travel to where the ball landed. Instead, you'll have to walk to that spot, or if you're lucky, use a golf cart to get there before taking your next swing. Finally, you're required to make par or lower at each hole before you progress. Again, it makes sense in the context of the world, but it can be an annoyance if you do a bogey or worse and have to travel all the way back to the tee to start again.

If you're a golf fan who can deal with the mostly simplified mechanics, you may not like one concession the game takes on the sport. Specifically, the game only lets you play nine holes instead of the full 18. It is a double-edged sword, as it means the overall game isn't too long, even when you factor in the non-golf portions. On the other hand, the aficionados will feel shortchanged by playing only half of a full round. Luckily, the game features alternative versions of the original nine courses to try out, so you can play the full 18 if you really wanted to.

Most of your time with the game, however, isn't spent golfing but partaking in standard action-RPG fare. You start with your club acting as your sword, and all of the enemies you defeat give you gold, which you can use in shops to procure more potions and better clubs. It doesn't take long before you find a special glove to let you throw fireballs — if you have enough mana to do so. Special chests often hide both potions and keys in the dungeons, which often hide a few switch puzzles and some impressive boss fights.

While this all seems pretty standard for the genre, there is one part to the dungeons that feels interesting, and that's when you're tasked with taking a ball to a marked area of the dungeon to open up new pathways. Here, the golf mechanics are simplified even more, so you only have to worry about shot direction and swing strength. You have to swing in more secluded rooms where walls can play a factor, and you will find yourself trying to land a ball over lava pits, so that adds excitement to an otherwise normal dungeon-crawling experience.

There are a few things RPG fans won't like about the game. First, while you can decide where your upgrade points go, you can't re-spec or cancel them, so mistakes can never be taken back. Second, the game has no pause feature. Whether you're checking your map or your inventory, the action still goes on, so it's very likely you'll get hurt even when you're in the process of healing yourself, or you may succumb to poison while fiddling around with a poorly implemented control scheme. It seems like a cheap way to get difficulty out of an otherwise casual game. The maps are also very uninteresting, with lots of dead ends, barely any secrets, and NPCs that dot the area for no reason other than because they're standard fixtures in RPGs.

The big fault in RPGolf is with the combat, which feels very poorly implemented. To be fair, your character's attacks are quite serviceable, even though your attack diversity is limited. There's also a nice parry system that lets you take no damage from an attack if you swing at the appropriate time. However, you'll stick with a hit-and-run strategy after every attack because anything else renders you dead. All enemies have a "tell" before they attack, such as some graphical animation or a white blink, but their range is ludicrous. Even the most basic enemies can leap at you from very far distances, and the damage they output is significant enough to make you quaff potions at every opportunity. It gets to the point that you'll lament that the title doesn't have a button specifically for that function.

The presentation is fine. The main character animates nicely, especially with the sway of her ponytail, but everyone else looks like they came out of a generic RPG. The monsters look serviceable, while the environments also have no personality. It all runs well but looks generic. As for the sound, that falls in the same category; it works for the game, but you'll likely forget about it once you leave the game.

There's a good idea in RPGolf, but it doesn't have the game mechanics to shine. The simplification of the golf mechanics is fine, as is the idea behind the combat. However, the enemy behavior and the other missing quality of life issues make this game more of a chore than something you'll want to be excited about. Its relatively cheap price means it's reasonable to buy it to check it out anyway, but don't expect much from it.

Score: 4.5/10

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