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Golf Club Wasteland Review

Golf and good tunes await

Golf and video games have a long history. PGA Tour Golf II was a game I spent a lot of time playing on my Sega Mega Drive back in the day, but since then golf games have become a little more complex and as such require more time than I have to give. However, golf is a sport that lends itself to games that are built on creative freedom rather than authenticity, opening them up to more than just golf enthusiasts. This brings us to Demagog Studio’s Golf Club Wasteland, a side-scrolling, story-driven round of golf set amongst the ruins of Earth with simple controls and a relaxing vibe.

The premise of Golf Club Wasteland is fairly simple. Set in the future, Earth has suffered a devastating ecological event and those who could afford it (read: the super rich) fled to Mars and set up shop in Tesla City. Nowadays, the rich head back to Earth here and there to play golf among the planet’s ruins. However, the rich still need a handful of blue-collar workers to help things operate and convinced many to tag along with them, including the game’s protagonist Charley, who has escaped back to Earth for one last round.

Ah the serenity

The golf, which totals 35 holes, acts as the vehicle to drive the narrative forward. It’s a relatively bleak tale and it’s told via the world itself, Charley’s journey, and the broadcast of Radio Nostalgia From Mars, The latter is a radio station that contains stories and tunes crafted for the game and is by far the biggest pusher of the narrative.

There’s an eclectic mix of songs on hand and some of them are genuinely bangers. It creates a nice relaxing vibe that sometimes makes you forget that you’re playing golf amongst Earth’s ruins. Accompanying the music is a collection of stories from callers, who reminisce about life on Earth, sharing tales from their younger years. Some of them are interesting, while some of them feel like they waffle on for an eternity. The annoying part is that they’re all part of the experience, so there’s no option to skip them. Thankfully they’re limited to about one story for every three songs. However, if there’s one thing that Radio Nostalgia does point out, it’s that life on Mars is, well, a bit shit.

The only knock on the story is that it’s almost impossible to get the full picture in a single playthrough. At first I was a tad confused as to what the story was about given the marketing was all about rich people coming back to Earth to play golf, but it’s clear that Charley does not shit gold coins. Each level gives you the chance to unlock a diary entry by either achieving par or another challenge (but they are far from intuitive to access), and once you roll credits you’ll unlock a graphic novel that gives you a deeper and clearer look at Charley’s story, but it does feel like an odd decision to make players read something after finishing the game to get a clearer understanding, especially with a relatively poignant story.

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The giraffe scene

Each of the 35 holes features puzzle elements and have been well designed to ensure not only a decent challenge but good pacing. Some holes may simply require you to hit the ball forward until it’s in the hole, whereas others you’ll have to navigate crumbling apartment blocks, nightclubs and museums. I will admit that on a small number of levels there’s a fine balance between a good challenge and “this is fucking bullshit,” but that is more of a controls problem than a level design one.

While the controls are simple enough that anyone can pick up and play, with players only needing the left analog stick and the X/A button of their controller, the UI on where the ball will land leaves a bit to be desired. There is often no real indication of how much power is behind your shot and where it will land, and the same shot on two similar surface types can result in two different outcomes. It’s not all bad though, because after a while you get a feel for the controls and if you do find yourself hooked, you’ll be able to finish the game in one sitting, with a runtime of 2-3 hours (depending on your skill).

There are three game modes: Story, Challenge, and Iron. Story Mode lets players experience the story at their own pace, Challenge Mode tasks players with scoring par on each hole, while Iron Mode tests even the best players, with very little room for mistakes. So even when you do wrap up the story, there are reasons to come back should you wish.

Another standout facet of the game is the art style, which is gorgeous thanks to a mix of muted tones and tinges of neon. It’s a different look at a post-apocalyptic Earth and it certainly doesn’t shy away from its desire to poke fun at Silicon Valley and references to current events with monuments to Elon Musk, graffiti that says “Fuck Zuck” and massive neon signs promoting Covfefe strewn across levels.

Not the first time Elon’s showed signs of cracking

Final Thoughts

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Demagog Studio’s attempt to blend story, current events and golf is for the most part a successful concoction. If you’re looking for a golfing game you’ll find better ones elsewhere, but if chucking on a set of headphones and immersing yourself in the story of a man playing one last round of golf on post-apocalyptic Earth is what you’re looking for, Golf Club Wasteland has you covered.

Reviewed on PS5 (PS4 version played) and PC // Review code supplied by publisher

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Golf Club Wasteland Review
Space Jams
Despite some minor design flaws, Golf Club Wasteland is a solid, if depressing, round of golf on post-apocalyptic Earth.
The Good
Excellent soundtrack
Gorgeous art style
Neat level design
Creates a relaxing vibe
The Bad
Storytelling needs a little tightening
The golf UI is practically useless
8
Get Around It
  • Demagog Studio
  • Untold Tales
  • PS4 / Xbox One / Nintendo Switch / PC
  • September 3, 2021

Golf Club Wasteland Review
Space Jams
Despite some minor design flaws, Golf Club Wasteland is a solid, if depressing, round of golf on post-apocalyptic Earth.
The Good
Excellent soundtrack
Gorgeous art style
Neat level design
Creates a relaxing vibe
The Bad
Storytelling needs a little tightening
The golf UI is practically useless
8
Get Around It
Written By Zach Jackson

Despite a childhood playing survival horrors, point and clicks and beat ’em ups, these days Zach tries to convince people that Homefront: The Revolution is a good game while pining for a sequel to The Order: 1886 and a live-action Treasure Planet film. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan. Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts

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