As each year passes, more and more news about the Earth’s global climate changes lean towards an uncivilized and uninhabitable situation for the end of this generation. Where billionaires are already devising plans to seek refuge beyond the stars, there may come a point in time where life on another planet will phase from a childlike pipe dream into a bonafide life-changing necessity. When the chosen few make it to the stars, breathe in that canned O2 and look for a pastime to reminisce about the life they used to have, what will they do?
Well, play golf.
After the Earth’s environment has succumbed to a debilitating change dubbed The Great Catastrophe, time spent on the desolate planet is done by only those wealthy enough to grab a hazmat suit, a jetpack, and a 5 iron. Take time to indulge in the sights of the changed atmosphere of cities returning to nature and the wildlife that has adapted and overcame biological extinction while you shoot for under par in one of Golf Club Wasteland’s finest courses!
Taking a swing is simple enough, you’ll use your mouse or controller to aim and adjust power which can set up booming drives to feathery chip shots to precise putts. The first few holes give plenty of time to understand physics and power, which will get you set up for the deluge of obstacles strewn about the course. Piles of leaves to lose your ball in, gaps between skyscrapers, and platforming on balconies are just a few hazards on your way to the apocalyptic greens. Later levels become elaborate puzzles to navigate with your golf ball with a few shortcuts for the keen eyed, but some have some precarious shots that can frustratingly ruin progress in levels. Thankfully in Story Mode you can skip levels if you’re having too much trouble.
But try not to skip these levels, because each stage brings a mysterious aura of a city left to be returned to nature. Malls with malfunctioning doors and shopping carts piled higher than the buildings they lay adjacent to, dilapidated skyscrapers with fading neon signs showing products of a past time, and an infested underground host to poisonous plants and alien creatures inhabiting the vividly detrimental waters. Each stage is as mysterious as it is pretty and tells a small story of “what was” before “what is” took over.
Once you run through the Story’s 35 levels Golf Club Wasteland tests your skills with a Challenge Mode and an Ironman Mode. Challenge Mode requires a par or better on every hole before moving to the next, with going over par causing a golf ball explosion and a return to the start of the hole. Ironman mode demands par or better for the course, and one wrong step starts you back at the beginning of the whole course. And with some of the shenanigans some of the holes have, nah man I’m good.
While on the surface you’re given a quirky looking golf puzzle game, the innards of Golf Club Wasteland brew a harrowing tale of class warfare and the unknown but impending possibility of when the seats of the new world are more limited than the public believes. Past knowledge is provided through diary entries awarded with good golf scores and the Nostalgia Radio from Mars that supplies your background music, filled with pulsing techno to light rock and everything in between, as well as tales of Mars’ citizens and the various ways they had to leave Earth. Some sad, some funny, some harrowing.
For its 90 minute run time, Golf Club Wasteland may not pack a whole lot of gameplay brilliance, but it provides an intriguing medium to tell a story that goes much further than I think anyone will suspect on their first swing. Even if the sport of golf isn’t your shindig, Golf Club Wasteland is worth the time to venture back to Earth. It’s equal parts heart-warming and heart-wrenching with pinches of frustration and elation depending on where you stand on the course.
Practice your follow-through and breathe deep, the results will be worth the effort.
A Steam code was independently purchased for review.