The great thing about Golf Peaks ($4.99) is you don’t have to even like golf or miniature golf to enjoy this game immensely. Indie dev Afterburn Games has taken the popular sport, melded it with a card-based putting system and wrapped it all up neatly in an art style that recalls Marble Madness, a teeny bit of M.C. Escher, and an isometric perspective that has (a much more colorful) De Stijil vibe. Oh, and the pleasant music from Rafal Samborski is as appropriately stress-free as it gets. Eh, don’t worry too much about my brain making those references you may or may not get – the more important thing is how much fun this one is to play.
What’s great about the game is its deceptive initial simplicity from dipping a toe into those initial levels where you’ll learn basic shots and make par without fail until the game slides a tricky level or three under your nose that requires some creative thought in your shot decisions. On each map you get a set of cards that have a number or series of numbers and an arrow or arrows that denote the direction(s) the ball will travel when the card is used. As the maps get more complex, you’ll need to think outside the box and pull off a few shots that might seem impossible because you haven’t figured out that sometimes an obvious looking shot is an incorrect one.
That said, it’s entirely possible to outfox the cards in some maps and complete a hole under par and with a card or cards left in your hand. This is supremely cool when you pull it off, but it has the side effect of your NOT learning how to use one or more of those card moves that (surprise!) you’ll need to know later on as the maps get tougher. Fortunately, the stress-free zone the game laces in your hands includes a rewind feature as well as the ability to quit and restart as much as you want. there’s also no timer to worry about and no pressure at all to get the best score. This not only pens up the game to anyone willing to pick it up, it also makes it a perfect way to spend a few minutes or more de-stressing after a long day.
There are 109 holes to play and they grow more interestingly complicated (yet a joy to play) as the game continues. Some are “put down the Switch to thin a sec” difficult, but the game wisely mixes in some simpler holes and a few nicely done visual hints when some of the more unusual holes make their first appearances. Afterburn has very wisely designed the game to communicate everything through the visuals, so there’s not a word to be heard from a chatty narrator warning you about icy spots, teleports and other oddball hazards. As far as overall length goes, it’s a case where the game isn’t going to overstay its welcome at all, but it will be something you’ll go back to because it’s going to be just as fun to play long after you buy it just as a simple test of memory as well as maybe trying to find every potential solution for each hole.
While I have no gripes about this game as it is, it would have been nice to see a course editor of some sort and some sort of two-player (or more) mode to extend the fun even more. But as I’ve noted in the past, that’s what sequels are for. Besides, for a multiplayer experience, you can always pass that Switch around if friends are over and you want to show off how cool this game is. Anyway, go get this one, folks. it’s also on PC (and here as well, if you’re not a Steam user)), iOS and Android devices if you don’t have a Switch yet. Eh, I say go get one, already, as it’s packed with a whopping amount of great games for pretty much every type of player.
Score: A (95%)
Review code provided by the publisher.