As an avid golf fan, I find the idea of being cursed to an eternity of golfing a nice idea. However, that’s exactly what you’re trying to escape from in developer Chuhai Labs’ new rogue-like Cursed to Golf. It makes for a really fun gameplay experience too, though the tough difficulty may put some players off making their way through the eighteen-holes to freedom.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Cursed to Golf puts players in the role of a top-notch golfer who was on the cusp of reaching championship glory when they met their demise. It turns out that you shouldn’t play golf in a thunderstorm, and a strike of lightning on the eighteenth hole sends you straight to the pits of Golfing Purgatory. Fortunately for you, there’s a way to come back to life: by beating the eighteen randomly assigned holes set upon you, with each hole bringing its own trials and tribulations that players will have to persevere through in order to succeed.

It’s certainly a unique premise as far as rogue-likes are concerned, with Cursed to Golf standing out as one of the more clever releases that I’ve seen in the genre for some time. It’s pretty simple to get to grips with too, with the player simply having to determine the ball’s trajectory and carefully timing the power to hit their shot. There are a few different clubs to use that are better suited for specific situations (such as being in the rough or in a bunker), but the game always makes it clear which one you need to use. It’s simple to get to grips with and accessible enough that even golfing newbies will feel comfortable with the mechanics from the get-go.

Being good enough to make your way through the eighteen holes, though? That’s a different thing altogether. Rather than each hole having a specific par score for players to hit, they instead start off with five strokes. If you fail to get the ball in the cup within those strokes? You’ll fail and be sent back to the start of the course, which is randomly generated each time. This is a rogue-like after all, so permanent punishment is part of the experience. Fortunately, it’s possible to increase your stroke limit by hitting the ball against a variety of statues located within each hole, with silver statues rewarding players with two extra shots and golden statues rewarding them with four – these statues are often positioned in hard-to-reach areas or out of the way of the cup, so it’s up to the player to carefully position their shots and hit them on their way around.

“Whilst I don’t want to admit how long it took me to beat the game, it felt rewarding when I finally did succeed (even if I was ready to have a complete mental breakdown in that final hole).”

Each hole in the game is meticulously designed to offer different routes to take, whilst various objects can both deter you or help you along the way. Hitting a teleporter to transport the ball somewhere else across the map is perfect, for example, whilst hitting a grave will see a skeleton steal your ball and cost you a shot in the process. It’s unconventional, but adds a fun twist to the game where you’ll have to position your shots VERY carefully in order to succeed. And hey, if you don’t fancy one route made up of tight pathways or dangerous hazards, you can always go a different way; a lot of the routes on the holes offer completely different ways to approach them, meaning you can play in a style that best suits you.

Luckily, you’ve also got a few tricks up your sleeve to help you out along the way. One of the obvious ones is the ball-spin, which allows you to carefully spin the direction of your ball after you’ve hit it. This is an absolute game-changer when it comes to landing the perfect shot, whether it’s when spinning the ball ahead in order to reach the cup, bouncing it so it skims past a bunker, or pulling it back to stay out of the way of a hazard. The best Cursed to Golf players will be those who master the ball-spin quickly, with it imperative to your success in the game.

Players will also unlock Ace Cards as they play, with these giving a variety of powers that can get you out of some sticky situations. Some of these are fairly typical, such as being able to take a practice shot, rewind a shot, or add extra shots to your stroke count, whilst others are more unique such as being able to stop time mid-shot, blast your ball in a different direction mid-shot, or even have your ball explode into three separate balls. Much like the ball-spin, the Ace Cards are a massive game changer and the clever use of them will be the difference between success and failure, so it’s important to have a good stock of them as you progress. Luckily, you can find them in treasure chests, purchase them from the shop in-between holes, or earn them on cursed holes (which bring a variety of tricky hazards such as wind, limiting players to only being able to hit in one direction, or turning the screen upside down), so there are plenty of ways to improve your deck.

Check out some screenshots down below:

The game is a lot of fun to play, and believe me, it feels ESPECIALLY rewarding when you nail those perfect shots that get you EXACTLY where you need to be. There’s a bit of a skill curve to the game, but it won’t take long before you’re able to position your ball perfectly or learn how to take advantage of a course’s design. That being said, Cursed to Golf can also be very hard, with just one mistake often enough to cost you the hole. The demand for precision can feel unfair at times, especially with the countless hazard types on courses, whilst the fact that later biomes bring even more obstacles into the fray means that you’re often unprepared for what’s ahead.

Some holes feel overly long too, with it easy to see your shot count go high up into the double figures by the time you complete them – especially in the boss levels which see you competing against an opponent who just so happens to be a master golf player (there are ways to hinder them, but these showdowns are TOUGH). It makes it even more daunting when you fail, with a successful (or, for the most part, unsuccessful) run of Cursed to Golf easily taking a few hours to get through. It can feel brutal and there’s nothing more frustrating than finding yourself close to the end only to slip up and have to start over. It’s the nature of a rogue-like, but the slower pace of Cursed to Golf can make it all the more annoying.

Despite this, I still found myself addicted and coming back for more and more. Whilst I don’t want to admit how long it took me to beat the game, it felt rewarding when I finally did succeed (even if I was ready to have a complete mental breakdown in that final hole). I haven’t mentioned the powers that you earn from beating the bosses either, some of which can be very beneficial with helping players get further through the game on subsequent runs. The game looks the part too, with some wonderful pixel art on show throughout that brings plenty of personality to the experience. Whilst it might have been nice to see a few extra landmarks on courses, the variety of biomes and their creative designs ensure that the experience remains fresh throughout.

Cursed to Golf Review

Cursed to Golf is a unique rogue-like experience that’s fun to play, even IF the harsh difficulty and drawn-out levels can be frustrating.

The neat gameplay mechanics and satisfying power-ups ensure that the golf is exciting and creative, whilst there’s simply no denying its addictiveness – I found myself hooked in for hours on end at times (with plenty of swearing with each failure). There were just a few too many times where those failures pushed me away from the game, especially when messing up near the end of the course and having to replay through the ENTIRE thing again. It might be enough to put some players off sticking with it until the end, which is a bit of a shame.

Still, there’s certainly a lot more good than bad here and there’s plenty of satisfaction to be found from working through Cursed to Golf’s learning curve. Just know that those moments where things don’t go well can be quite painful…

Developer: Chuhai Labs
Publisher: Thunderful Publishing
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC