Sports games have long held a position of privilege in the video game pantheon. They are consistent hits that have long been big winners with young men, but they are also the domain of some of the biggest players in the industry. We've seen some recent changes here, though, with smaller development teams getting lots of attention for their innovative takes on the staid world of sports games.
As you might have figured from the name, Dungeon Golf is coming from the more lighthearted end of the indie sports game scene. Combining miniature golf with a little light hack n' slash, it is perhaps not the best choice for the solo player, but it could be the right choice for your next friends' night in.
Dungeon Golf is exactly what it says on the tin - golf in a dungeon. Specifically, it's a game of mini golf/putt-putt set in one of several RPG-esque dungeons, played by the kind of golfers you'd expect to be either raiding said dungeon or lurking there to kill heroes. As you might imagine, the overall tone is very whimsical, with golfers that include a bardic frog, a skeleton that putts with his own leg, a horse knight who rides around on a toy horse, and one completely ordinary golfer who manages to be the strangest of the crew.
At a base level, the rules are exactly what you expect: Get to the hole in the fewest shots possible, and win the game by having the lowest score. But the dungeon setting and the monstrous participants aren't just for aesthetics - they add new mechanics that the players will have to deal with.
The dungeons are full of monsters, which represent both perils and opportunities. Any player can defeat a monster by hitting it with the ball, which also lowers that player's stroke count (which means that someone could potentially get a "hole in none" and have a score of zero for the hole). However, if the ball lands too close to a living monster, it will attack the golfer, raising that player's stroke count and moving the ball out of place.
The dungeons are also littered with mana, which looks like radiant purple spheres. Some mana is lying loose in the dungeon, while the rest can be released by defeating monsters or hitting treasure chests. Mana is used to charge the golfer's special abilities. Each of the eight golfers has two abilities: A standard ability that consumes part of the mana bar, and a super ability that requires the whole thing.
There's a fair bit of variety in these special moves. Some can be used to reposition the ball without needing to use a stroke. Others are attacks. Yes, you can fight your rivals, with each hit raising their stroke count and potentially pushing them out of position. As Dungeon Golf loves to remind you: Hurting a rival's score is just as important as improving your own.
As you might imagine, Dungeon Golf is meant to be played with other people. Solo players won't find the computer-controlled golfers to be much of a challenge, so if you are playing alone you'd be well-advised to stick to the challenge levels. The solo challenges put the player on a specific hole with a pre-chosen golfer and one of three objectives: Kill all monsters, open all treasure chests, or get to the hole in the shortest time possible. The later challenges can get very difficult and should put even skilled players on the back foot.
Overall, Dungeon Golf is a respectable party game that probably isn't going to do much for the lone player. Do yourself a favor and play this one with friends.
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