I’ve got a confession to make: I’m usually a pretty big fan of art house movies, but I’m rarely a fan of art games. I used to talk about this more back when they were more common, around the time that Dear Esther hit it big and everyone wanted to make a walking simulator – or, better, Kickstart one. These days, though, straight-up art games seem to be less of a thing.
Instead, we’ve got gameplay mixed in with the art, which results in something like Golf Club Wasteland. It’s a fully playable golf(ish) game with a heaping helping of art game goodness on top. These two tastes end up tasting pretty good together, as it turns out, especially if you’re into music.
Golf Club Wasteland is an atmospheric game focusing on an astronaut from Mars playing golf on the ruins of Earth. A combination of environmental catastrophe and political upheaval led to the destruction and abandonment of the planet; now only ashes, concrete, toxic waste and, of course, golf holes remain. You’ll swing away on the radioactive links while grooving out to tunes and listening to retrospectives from Martian survivors thanks to Nostalgia Radio.
There’s not a lot more to say about it, really! It’s a very simple two-dimensional golf game presented in the modern style that aims to minimize inconvenience; if you take too long to complete a course, Golf Club Wasteland will happily let you skip it. Taking a swing is as easy as using the left stick to aim and control your power. The courses steadily become more and more complex, evolving into elaborate pseudo-platforming challenges. All the while there’s a plot taking place in the background featuring a mutated child keeping tabs on your golfer.
If you end up enjoying the gameplay, you can earn rewards for actually doing well…but there’s no on-screen stroke counter and the game doesn’t really mind if you’re the worst golfer in what’s left of the world. Just keep swinging. It’ll be frustrating, but you’ll get there eventually. Pros, meanwhile, can check out the included Challenge mode to really test their skills.
What you’re actually coming here for is the presentation. Specifically, you’re probably here for the music. It’s fantastic. The graphics? They’re standard minimalist indie fare. The golf courses? They’re neat, but we’ve had a few “golf, but weird” games lately so this maybe doesn’t have the disruptive impact it was meant to have. The retrospectives and meta-plot that you experience as you go through the game? They’re both a little heavy-handed. The environmental message and political nods? They’re delivered much like every other video game that takes this tack, which you can take or leave.
That music, though. Pretty much every track is a banger. Let’s go ahead and accept the collapse of the planet so we can start making more music like this. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that for fans of art games, the music alone might merit that $10 asking price.
Golf Club Wasteland is yet another tale of mankind’s impending environmental destruction and, let’s be real, one we’re all living through that as we speak. Perhaps a post-apocalyptic golf game will turn the tide. I’m willing to be open-minded. Either way, having some hip tunes and a pretty chill golf experience might help distract you for a bit. That’s worth ten bucks, really. Post-apocalyptic Tiger Woods is a relaxed kind of guy.