Last week, I came across a game called Golf Club Wasteland. I found out it was a Serbian-developed game, saw that it was coming out, and learned that a demo of the game was available through Steam. I wrote about my thoughts with the demo and decided to pick it up for my Nintendo Switch now that’s it’s out on just about every platform. After playing through the game’s 30+levels, my original concerns with the game still hold true but it’s still a visual and audio experience I think many should try.
Alone on Earth
I won’t go into too much detail about the game’s narrative. You’re an astronaut named Charlie who is on a seemingly deserted Earth playing golf. As I stated in my preview, these are mini-golf-like courses. You’ll have to navigate around obstacles, use the environment to your advantage, with some having multiple ways of reaching the hole.
As you play, you’re also listening to Radio Nostalgia From Mars. This audio program gives you an idea of the time frame. In between original songs, the host comes on to make announcements, discuss the music we’re listening to, and then introduce a few interviews. The announcements give us a glimpse of life on Mars. Meanwhile, the interviews feature people living on Mars. When they talk, they discuss life on the planet but also make references to their previous lives on Earth.
The program is a great listen, so it’s really important to play with this a pair of headphones or a decent sound system. The Switch’s built-in speakers are awful, so I had to play on full-blast to really hear everything. Although it’s not incredibly vital to hear every aspect of the program, it definitely adds to the atmosphere of the game. There are also some really catchy tunes in the mix.
In all, Radio Nostalgia From Mars runs for about two hours. There are a few interruptions and at one point, the broadcast will interrupt itself to reference Charlie on Earth. It also continuously plays. So, if you pause the game it just continues.
Controls that cause frustration
The biggest gripe I have for Golf Club Wasteland is its controls. This was something I pointed out with the demo and it’s still a problem on Switch. I regularly screwed up shots because I would either put too much or too little power or not angle my shot correctly for the ball to go where I need it to.
Golf is a precise sport, so the need for accuracy with your shots shouldn’t come as a surprise. The problem is that I never felt there was any consistency with my shots. Even when I would tweak the game’s sensitivity, it didn’t seem to help. It’s not the worst thing in the world but in areas where you need to land a shot on a small ledge or through a specific hole, it can get really frustrating.
An interesting story that you can miss
There are a few ways you learn about the game’s story. Outside of the radio program, you can unlock diary entries if you complete a hole in a specific number of strokes. These go into a bit more background on your character, the reasoning behind them being back on Earth, and references to things you’ve done or seen while playing.
Like the radio program, you can miss these completely if you decide to just play around. If you don’t care about your score on each hole, you’ll never unlock the diary entries.
Between holes, you get a small phrase that does give you a bit more information. But when you initially play, they don’t really seem connected and you’re not sure if it’s Charlie talking or someone else. The diary entries are written from his perspective but you can only refer to them when you pause the game. There is no way to read what he wrote between levels.
Visuals that stick with you
I was really impressed with the art style of the game. It’s clear that this is a game developed by a team from Eastern Europe. The use of famed Ex-Yugoslavian monuments and architecture might not impress some, but it really fits the dystopian tone of the game. Those buildings are gray and feel cold, which makes a lot of sense for this type of environment.
Although most of the levels take place in and around the fictional city of Alphaville, other locales include Berlin and Paris are obviously referenced. I also suspect there are references to other European cities that others may notice but that I missed.
There is a bit of detail throughout the game. While it may seem simple at first, but you can notice small little touches. The levels that have more than one way to reach the hole really stand out. At the start of every level, I would zoom out and pan around so that I could see if there were more than one way to approach the hole.
Two hours well spent
If you’re just playing the story mode and not carrying about your score, it shouldn’t take more than two hours to complete all the levels. My play-through was a bit longer because I was restarting and replaying because I wanted to get the best score. I managed to unlock the diary entries but it definitely took me a while. Because of that, I would actually recommend playing the Challenge Mode which has a stroke restriction. You’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you finish a hole under par and it will prolong your playtime.
Outside of how they executed the story, my only real grip with Golf Club Wasteland is with its controls. It definitely takes a bit of time to get used to it, and you will most certainly get frustrated by your missed shots. Thankfully, it never came to the point where I wanted to stop playing. It’s a hurdle worth overcoming.
I’m really happy I learned about this game and for the time I spent playing. Even if I don’t go back to better my scores, I will still remember its visuals. Also, I’m not sure how long it will take to get some of its songs out of my head!