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Cursed to Golf Review: A truly devilish sporting Roguelike

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First “golflike” in the world, Cursed to Golf offers a considerable level of challenge to all fans of the noble art of golf.

Cursed to Golf Review: A truly devilish sporting Roguelike

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The roguelike genre is experiencing years of great turmoil, and by now it has had protagonists of all kinds: ranging from giant mechs in the strategic Into the Breach, to the very human mythological characters of Hades (by the way, find our review of Hades here), to the child going through unmentionable horrors in The Binding of Isaac. To this large cast is added the Cursed Golfera professional of the noblest of sports, committed to the (apparently impossible) mission that is the beating heart of Cursed to Golf.

Developed by the small Japanese studio Chuhai Labs, founded in 2020, and published by Thunderful Publishing, Cursed to Golf promises strong replayability – also thanks to the challenges that will be offered to players daily – a fluid and engaging gameplay and a truly delicious pixel art. It remains only to find out if all these goals have been achieved by the teamor if the Cursed Golfer game still deserves some refinement …

Fall and rise: the Purgatory of Golf

The adventure opens on the last hole of an important golf tournament in which our protagonist is at the top of the ranking. The weather conditions, however, are rapidly deteriorating: a storm is approaching the horizon. In such a situation, any match director would suspend the game, but we’ll take it as a poetic license from the developer to kick off the events of Cursed to Golf … with a bang. Yes why the golfer is struck by lightning and thrown into the abyss of the Earth!

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Let’s meet him right away Scottishshop owner Eternal-Tee (one of the many brilliant word games proposed by Chuhai Labs) and our tutelary deity in what we discover to be the Purgatory of Golf. Along with other brilliant golfers, the Scotsman is himself trapped in this realm dominated by Keeper of the Greena demon that constantly messes up the paths of Purgatory, consisting of eighteen holes of various lengths, just like a real golf course.

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To return to the world of the living, the Cursed Golfer will have to challenge the terrain and its pitfalls, as well as face off against the strongest players in each biome, also engaged in an ascent that seems really impossible.There is not much more to say about the plot, which unfortunately is largely devoid of interesting twists or novelties that could create pauses between games. The pace of Cursed to Golf is really crazy, and small detours are not enough to collect money to spend on the purchase of cards or to go shopping in the various Eternal-Tee locations: the title developed by Chuhai Labs is an eternal return to the golf course to be taken in small dosesgiven that the main mechanics of the gameplay – throwing the ball and, very often, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best – practically occupies the entirety of the play experience.

Throw and re-throw the ball

A steady-paced tutorial introduces us to Golf Purgatory and the gameplay of this arcade-like roguelike. Don’t expect a simulation gamebecause Cursed to Golf does not offer realistic physics or an accurate reproduction of the sport: the approach of Chuhai Labs is one of those light, easy to learn and difficult to master, also because the navigation in the levels is often complex and in the biomes are present new and different environmental elements than the tutorial counterparts.

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In practice, we are faced with a particular reading of the two-dimensional platform: in this case, the real enemy of the Cursed Golfer is the course itself on which he is playing. In some cases, the hole changes “on the run”, forcing us to revise our strategy; planning is keybut we also need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and blows that don’t go exactly where we want them to.

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On many occasions, the view will not allow us to see where the ball will land, as the mode Hawk eye – which allows you to take a look at the various parts of the field, no matter how far away from where we are at the moment – is not available in the preparation phase, consisting of three different moments: in the first you choose the iron to be use (for example the driver for the long game, or the wedge to get out of a sandy bunker), in the second you measure the strength, while in the third you adjust the angle. Very simple in theory, very difficult in practice. There is no procedural generation of the levels, but the holes in which it is possible to run into are more than seventy. Divided into four biomes, the Purgatory offers the Cursed Golfer and the players quite varied environments, even if there is a certain repetition within each scenario: these are in fact characterized by similar obstacles and challenges, and it is natural that after a few games there is a certain flavor of already seen.

A golfer’s life is hard …

In our opinion, the problematic aspect lies in theextreme rigor required of the player: the shots available to complete each hole are limited, and although hitting the statues on the field allows you to gain a few more, in practice a mistake can be very expensive. Careful management of the element that creates a twist in the more purely golf mechanics is essential: we are talking about Ace cardswhich guarantee special powers in case of use.

Purchasable at Eterni-Tee or found in the course between one hole and another, these have various types: they range from the Retenta card – which in golf jargon is called Mulligan – which allows you to “cancel” the wrong shot from the score and try again, until the one that blows up all the TNT boxes on the course (we told you that the holes of Cursed to Golf are not exactly conventional).

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At first, facing the level of difficulty proposed by Chuhai Labs is decidedly challenging but fun, thanks to the implementation of the cards and a very good average level design, with peaks of excellence. Losing in Cursed to Golf will take us back to the first hole, although, at a certain point in the adventure, you unlock the ability to place a checkpoint only once per game. In our opinion, a good roguelike is made of carrot and stick: to give an example that will surely be grasped by many readers, in Hades the frustration of Zagreus for an unsuccessful tour in the Underworld is counterbalanced by the possibility of advancing the relationship with the interesting characters that populate the game world.

Here, in Cursed to Golf that positive side is missing, the glass half full of having been defeated by the Keeper of the Green and his perverse golf courses, so much so that even fans of golf sports titles could find themselves in difficulty. It doesn’t help a soundtrack that looks back with nostalgia – clear inspiration from the great classic Neo Turf Masters – because it soon becomes repetitive. The translation into Italian is discreet: a few slips do not affect it overall.

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During the adventure we found some bugs, all included in the list sent to us by the publisher containing the fixes that the developers are working on in the period before the launch. Overall, Cursed to Golf performed very well with our test setup and stood out for a graphic style we couldn’t fail to mention: Chuhai Labs’ pixel art always hits the mark, making courses and their obstacles easily legible. And at the same time suggestive.

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