The less you know about What the Golf! coming in, the better, so I’ll keep this review short and to the point. Danish studio Triband, the same folks behind Keyboard Sports: Saving QWERTY, one of my favorite participants in last year’s BIG Festival, are back with a very unique look at one of the world’s favorite sports, golf. Well, sort of.
In What the Golf!, you approach the greens in many different ways. The final goal is always reaching the flag and the hole, but how you do it depends on the level, and it’s there that the charm and incredible humor behind this game lies. Things start out as common as you expect, simply hitting a ball with a putter on a short turf, but it all gets crazier and crazier from there.
The very next level — which I’m going to intentionally spoil since it’s only half a minute into the game’s pre-title sequence — has you controlling a golfer who’s apparently aiming a shot just like the one you just hit thirty seconds ago, but as soon as you let go off the mouse button, it’s him who ends up flying to the flag. From that point on, What the Golf! keeps escalating and getting zannier, giving you the same basic goal under a variety of different and more out there setups.
You’ll explore a golf research center and engage in experiments that don’t take more than a couple of minutes tops to finish. The tone of the game never lets go from the comedic line, and for as little as there is to a dialog box — trust me, it’s pretty much a monologue, you’ll see when you get there — it’s pure gold. The situational humor is also very on point, if not a little too on the nose at times.
Outside of the sequence of levels of Triband came up with, there are others that were hand-picked to be played by streamers in a separate menu item, and according to them, they’re the hardest set of stages you can tackle. I tried my hand at a couple, and they’re comical in how much more complex they are than the twenty or so puzzles I played in the main mode. I’m sure this game is making quite a splash on streaming platforms, but on the other hand, it kind of gives away the only element What the Golf! has going for it in the first place if you only tune in to watch random people play, right?
You can also try your hand at the daily challenge and compete with your buddies on the online leaderboards, and see who can make it to the end under the part. Since this game is nowhere near as involved as other indies that offer such a feature, it makes for a good excuse to jump in every day to check in and pop back out.
It’s the sort of game that makes for an excellent impression the less you know about what’s coming next, since basically the element of surprise is its biggest hook. You never have a clue as to just what you’ll be tasked with taking to the goal, or how you’ll do it in the first place. It’s the sort of game that can be considering in the fairest sense of the word, a throwaway experience that you’ll only get to really have once. It’s incredibly simple in its premise, and accomplishes it flawlessly, but it is what it is.
What the Golf! was released early last month and is currently available portably as part of the newly-released Apple Arcade platform on iOS and on PC via the Epic Games Store. It’s stated to be sold on Nintendo Switch sometime down the line, and I expect it to be a big hit there as well.