Golf with No Friends

Golf games? Golf games! Golf games are mostly good. Thwacking a ball with an expensive stick is joyous, but walking around in the heat for an entire day is less so. Digital golf is much better and doesn’t fuck up the local ecosystem nearly as badly. Win/win. And boy, this game I played sure contains 18 holes of golf.

The thing with most simulation golf games is that they lack accuracy and authenticity, specifically in that they allow the player to succeed. You, the person reading this video game review, are bad at golf. It is true, do not attempt to deny it. Pars are for other people, mostly those who actually frequent the green instead of reading reviews for indie games. Damien Crawford’s Golf Experience 2022 ensures that you are as bad at golf in the digital realm as you are in the physical. Surprisingly, and fortunately, this works in its favor.

DCGE 2022 plants you on a course with not even a speck of HUD to be found. You are tasked with playing golf. You (the player avatar this time, not literally you) understand the gist of golf, more or less. Use some kind of club, hit the ball with some amount of strength, go find your ball, do it again until it enters the hole. That’s golfing, yes? Yes! You’re pretty sure.

This manifests in an a strange journey through stranger, manicured lands. You will walk up hills, then down them. You will walk around in circles, and not because you’re drunk unlike the average golfer. You will look up and down, struggling to straighten your camera afterwards because it’s a bit wonky. Then you will look behind you, exhausted, and realize your ball came to a rest on the slope and you’ve been looking everywhere for no reason. You will then line up a shot. 1 wood. Full send. Ol’ reliable. THWACK.

So I adventured through the course, searching for its many holes with minimal clue as to where they were, blasting my ball to scout ahead as I excitedly ran to meet it again and again. The sounds of yardwork droned on. The ball went roughly where I wanted it most of the time. To my surprise the holes all existed exactly as the Steam page promised; there was no cruel unwinnable holeless hole surprise, nor a cart cruising out of nowhere to run me over in a jump scare twist, nor any opposition of any kind beyond my own persistence faltering. Which it did not. I completed all 18 holes in their entirety, because I am a true golfsman.

Will I do so again? Unlikely. Am I glad I did it once? Yes, actually! It was an oddly meditative experience. I came to appreciate the peaceful background thrum of mowers, the pleasure of clicking full send, the whoosh of the 1 wood, and the mild satisfaction of locating the green with no assistance. There is something about DCGE 2022 that genuinely felt fulfilling in ways that many games built around concepts like “good UX” and “tutorial systems” lack. I left this game happier than I started, and in the end that feels like as compelling an argument for a recommendation as any.

 A copy of this game was independently purchased for review.