Team 17’s Golf With Your Friends has arrived on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. The party mini-golf game rules being a chaotic combination of fun multiplayer fun and precision golfing. While Golf With Your Friends can certainly bring some hole-in-one laughs to a group of friends, it gets a bogey in terms of some key development choices and developer execution. this.
The basic gameplay of Golf With Your Friends is simple enough as a standard mini-golf experience. Players have the ability to use the analog stick to aim the golf ball in any direction and use the power indicator to adjust the power of the shot. Able to put some spin on the ball with the left thumbstick, ala a PGA pro hitting the ball in 2K’s newly announced PGA Tour 2K21. Once the shot is lined up, power set added, and spin added, a simple tap of a button sends the ball flying. The controls are not complicated, which is a good thing.
The problem is that the accuracy in Golf With Your Friends is not what players might want. For example, when powering a hit, it seems very difficult to find the sweet spot between a good touch tap for a 5-foot putt and hitting the ball 30 feet down the course. And when it comes to the longest shot to get the ball to the “green” on various courses, just hitting the ball full force often does the trick, taking away from any approach. And even as a silly arcade game, strategy still needs to be part of the experience which is something Mario Golf does well.
The game is also not without glitches, as the geometry is sometimes frustrating and the ball can get stuck outside the playing field. Under normal circumstances, if the ball flies out of bounds it will reset and return to where the shot came from. However, there are some spots on the map where the game does not recognize that it is “out of bounds” and players are forced to stop the hole and accept the maximum stroke penalty. Worse, in some game modes, there is no max stroke penalty, so if this happens, the player has to leave the game altogether.
There is a useful ability called “Free Cam” that allows players to fly through the sky like a Lakitu from Mario so they can reach the course. This is a useful tool for knowing where the hole is and how to navigate the course, especially on the trickier holes. But the problem is that the thumbsticks are used to move in “Free Cam,” so when doing this the game thinks that the player wants to add spin to the ball (since the thumbsticks are also used to add spin). So when the player returns it is quite possible to forget that rotation was applied, set up a perfectly focused shot, and watch the shot spin in a strange direction. Additionally, after applying spin, the ball will never return to a perfectly straight shot again, there will always be a slight spin to it. All of this makes the awesome “Free Cam” option something that’s almost scary to use.
There are 11 courses to enjoy in Golf With Your Friends, and this is where the game thrives. They range from the simplistic, like the Forest, to straight-up bonkers courses like the Museum. Each course usually starts with a fairly easy few holes, but by the time the back 9 rolls around, the course ramps up to some really difficult holes. It would be nice if Team 17 indicated the difficulty level for each course, even though they are all tough. If the Oasis and Forest are marked as “Regular” while the Haunted House is marked as “Hard,” for example, this will help players know what they’re getting into. Some levels get downright crazy, but in a fun way, with the Worms-themed course, meant to tie in with the new Worms game coming this year, really ups the ante.
If played alone, Golf With Your Friends can be a little dull, but the fun of the title explodes with a dozen balls flying down the course. Instead of many golf games that require players to take turns, Golf With Your Friends allows everyone to play at the same time, which means chaos in the best ways possible. It’s also a bit far from the few moments of laughter, when someone does something funny but no one sees it. For anyone who makes a ball on the hole, they can watch others take their shots until the hole is complete. This multiplayer experience speeds up what is usually a long game of golf and makes it a little fun.
There are several game modes to choose from in Golf With Your Friends, and the online match host can also change the settings in some interesting ways. Basketball requires players to jump and dunk the golf ball into the basket, just like an old-school basketball game, but it’s more annoying than fun. In Hockey, the hole is replaced by a net and a deceptive goalie, while the ball is replaced by a puck. The mode is fun for a round, but basically golf is what players will gravitate towards the most. In the end, Classic and Party Mode will probably be the go-to modes. Classic is just old fashioned golf, while Party Mode adds collision elements with golf balls and places powerups around the map like the ability to jump in the air, apply sticky honey, and more. The host can also change the settings like changing the shape of the ball to become a star, but its curious that the host can’t choose to just play 9-hole or something along those lines. It seems that most hosts would prefer the ability to play faster matches rather than circling as a rectangle.
Visually, Golf With Your Friends looks rough around the edges. At times, the game can also chug and drop in frame-rate, especially in levels like Space Station that have a lot going on. The music feels right for being a family friendly party game title with themes for different courses, but there is a missing charm to the game. While titles like Worms have great voiceovers that bring laughter and fun, the same exact “chime” is played whether the player gets a par or a triple bogey.
Each day, players can unlock up to three customizable items for their golfball just by playing. Every 45 minutes, and after completing a course, a new hat, trail, or floaty is randomly obtained. It would have been nice to be able to unlock items through challenges instead. Still, the incentive is there to come back and keep playing, so everyone gets there with their own fun customizable gear.
Golf With Your Friends has been playable on Steam for a few years, so it’s a bit disappointing that the game has been ported to consoles with some of its flaws. The Steam version also has a course creator that the console version doesn’t have, although Team 17 says it may come at some point. However, playing with friends online and seeing all the golf balls flying across the course is sure to be fun. The game lacks the depth of many other golf games, so for fans of the genre, the title may not be worth it. But for someone looking for a laugh with friends, as a party game Golf With Your Friends is no less entertaining and sure to be enjoyed.
Golf With Your Friends is out now on Steam, Xbox One, Switch, and PS4. Today Technology was given an Xbox One code for this review.