Playing miniature golf with your friends on your Switch. That sounds like a grand ol’ time, right? Well, in Golf With Your Friends, you can do just that! During this pandemic, going to an actual mini-golf course is impossible, so the next best thing is to play some wild putt-putt in the comfort of your own home! But is Golf With Your Friends worth the club and ball rental fee? Or is this another indie game destined for the eShop black hole? Let’s find out!
When it comes to “sports” games, there really is no story, and the same reality goes for Golf With Your Friends. It is simply playing some rounds of crazy mini-golf alone, with friends locally, or with people online. The story is you needing to socialize and enjoying the company of others, even if that is in the digital world.
Well… maybe that is never implied, actually. But given the current climate of the world, it is easy to insert such a suggestion… or is it just me?
Golf With Your Friends is a miniature golf simulator. For those of you who are unaware, mini-golf is an offshoot of the sport of golf that focuses solely on the putting aspect of its parent game. Well, this game takes the idea of mini-golf and turns it on its head by presenting the player with extra absurd levels that could never actually exist and give the player customization options to create an even more bizarre game of mini-golf that defies physics and reality.
First of all, the game controls are quite casual. What I mean is that it is very easy to control, so much so that my 5-year-old daughter figured out how to play within a minute and with absolutely no instruction. You simply use the right stick to change the direction left or right, the left stick to dictate the amount of power you will use, and the A button to execute your set up. Because it is mini-golf, a lot of set ups will require specific angles and timing in order to get in or near the hole.
Just because the controls are simple does not mean the game is easy. Mini-golf is a game of wild obstacles, weirdly placed walls, and actions that you will never see in a proper game of golf, and Golf With Your Friends is no different. Applying that geometry you learned in grade school is going to pay off heavily here, since human error is not taken into consideration while playing. As I said, controls are simple, which makes this a much easier game of putt-putt… but…
This ain’t your normal game of putt-putt.
What we have here are an assortment of wild stages ranging from relatively normal miniature golf courses to full-on battlefields. The different courses are all a lot of fun, too, and provide significantly different experiences. Sure, some of the more bizarre stages may come off as insane and may be a bit unpredictable, but they are still fun. Players who are experts at angles will easily fall victim to bad RNG which evens the playing field to some degree.
But there are some holes that require a lot of the player, and these are the ones I was quite disappointed in. It is one thing to traverse your ball around a series of corners and jumps, but it is another thing all-together to jump from platform to platform only to have to fly your ball (Yes, you read that right) to the appropriate area just to land on the green again. For such a casual game, some of these areas require a whole lot more from the player than normal.
Another weird thing that is naturally in the settings is timing the player. I found that rushing the player hurt the gameplay a little bit, and massively penalizing players for taking a bit more time seems massively unfair. Thankfully, and this is true for a lot of the game’s flaws, you can customize the rules and settings in a variety of ways and make an experience that fits you and your party’s play style.
Speaking of play styles, Golf With Your Friends has some crazy modes and mods that add so much more entertainment than you would expect. There is Classic mode, which is normal mini-golf, Dunk mode, which is basically bouncing the ball into a basketball net instead of sinking it into a hole, Hockey mode, which tasks you to traverse the puck/ball to the goal and shoot it past the keeper, and Explore mode, which allows you to put spin on your ball and perform some wacky shots that could potentially blow everyone’s minds. These different game modes and the mods you can apply to them, like ball jumping, gravity adjustment, and ball shape/size can make for some great laughs between regular sessions.
And since this game literally has “With Your Friends” in the title, you should be encouraged to know that you can really play with your friends. Up to 12 people can play in both online and offline lobbies. Unfortunately, I could not test a 12 player lobby online, but the online games I did play were a lot of fun and had no problems. For offline play, the developers decided to go a unique route and only use one controller for all players, so you will all need to agree on which controller you are using and pass it around. It is a unique approach, but since it does allow for 12 players, it makes a lot of sense.
The music in Golf With Your Friends is pretty generic. The simple chimes playing are soothing and create a decent atmosphere for the game at play, but I would love more music than what is provided.
Sound effects are pretty spot-on when it comes to the normal sounds of mini-golf, but I have to say that the goofy sound effects on stages like Candyland and Worms were wildly entertaining. The Worms course, especially, had me grinning ear-to-ear so many times, especially their yelling as bombs are being dropped and the sounds of “HALLELUJAH” when the holy hand grenade explodes. Quality stuff thanks to Team17.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
The game looks fine. I personally think the art style is a bit too generic for most of the courses, but when it comes to games like this, I honestly do not expect much in regards to visuals. However, the Worms course is awesome! You can tell they put a lot more love and attention into that one than any other course in the game, but it makes sense, as Worms is Team17’s baby and they have to always do the brand justice.
Physics are a bit strange at times, especially when interacting with things out of bounds. Some holes require you to bounce your ball off of something that is technically out of bounds, but it seems like some of these objects follow different laws than the walls within a course.
I also experienced a lot of slow texture loading, even after long loading screens prior. It does not affect gameplay at all, but it is noticeable and rather ugly when it sits like that for a few seconds.
Golf With Your Friends is going to set you back $19.99USD, and I am having a difficult time with that price. On the one hand, you are getting a really fun game that could possibly supply dozens of hours worth of gameplay, but on the other hand, that is a premium price for indie games these days.
I think for those who enjoy a quality round of digital putt-putt, this game will serve its purpose greatly. For those who only enjoy miniature golf casually, I do not think this will be a game that can hook you in enough to justify the price.
There are a good amount of cosmetic unlocks to customize your ball, like top hats and dinosaur skulls, so that may keep some people playing. The different modes and mods may also keep the replay of certain courses fresh, so surely the value of this game lies largely on the taste of the individual. For me, as a man that was born in the mini-golf capital of the world, Myrtle Beach, I have to say that this scratched an itch that I did not know I even had, and I will absolutely be playing this more with my family and friends.
Story - 7/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Audio - 7/10
Visuals & Performance - 7/10
Value - 7/10
Golf With Your Friends is at its best when you are playing with others. Each of the courses are fun and unique, and the different game modes and mods you can apply add so much more to the game. It may not look the best or feel the best, but the game is still highly entertaining and accessible. It may not be as fun as the real thing, but considering the current climate and the inability to go out in public freely and enjoy a nice round of mini-golf, Golf With Your Friends is the next best thing… as long as you really enjoy mini-golf.
- Great mini-golf simulator
- Loads of customization options
- Up to 12 players
- Difficulty spikes
- Price may be intimidating for some