Cursed to Golf is a roguelite by Chuhai Labs in which you attempt to escape golf purgatory by golfing your way through 18 supernaturally hazardous holes.
You’re given five turns to complete each hole but can get more by using cards or by hitting gold or silver idols around the course. Once you complete a course, you drive your golf buggy to the next spot on the map and start again.
Each shot is aimed through two timing challenges: one to determine your power and one to determine your vertical aim. You can spin the ball to influence its landing, which gives you a little more control, but it still often feels like the game wants you to aim perfectly. Many hazards will outright destroy your ball if you hit them, and it’s easy to slightly misaim in a tight space.
Navigating these hazards is the bulk of the game, and it’s fun and frustrating in equal measure. Some hazards, like bounce pads or warp portals, let you move around the course in interesting ways, and others, like spikes and piranhas, are only there to be avoided and will take an extra turn from you if hit.
When it seems impossible to get past a hazard, your deck of single-use cards come into play. These give you abilities like turning your ball into a rocket, setting it on fire to destroy hazards, and retaking shots. Smart use and conservation of these cards is the way to win, which in some ways makes this an item usage game as much as a golf game.
The game seems to demand incredible precision from you early on, which is only made more frustrating by an overly long tutorial that lets you play a whole run before giving you the ability to spin. Once you become as precise as the game demands, as well as learn to use your cards well, the game becomes quite enjoyable.
Finding alternate paths through the level by using your cards makes you feel clever, and taking a precise shot that reduces your need to use cards is satisfying.
However, the game is zoomed in way too far, meaning you often can’t see where to go. To mitigate this, the devs give you a freecam, but activating the freecam, looking around, then taking your shot takes a while, and you still can’t see hazards when you’re aiming. So you look, back out, aim, spin, then realize you’re about to hit an obstacle and have already spun towards it because you couldn’t see, then lose an extra turn. It’s just ridiculous.
It can also be frustrating when you don’t have the cards to navigate the platforms around you. If something’s too far or at the wrong angle, you can be doomed to spend several turns you can’t spare unless you have a helpful card.
Runs regularly end in excess of two hours, although they do get faster once you get good at the early levels. Every time you restart, your task is the same: avoid using cards as much as possible and get to the late game with tons of cards. As you beat more bosses, which clears them forever and gives you permanent abilities, the game becomes more forgiving, and hence more loose and playful.
The music is a bit high-energy for the slow, methodical golfing, but it otherwise creates a fun, retro mood to go along with the cute pixel art.
If you like the sound of the wacky powers, the hazards, and the precise, satisfying golf, you’re probably going to have a great time with Cursed to Golf. But this is also a game where I regularly exclaimed my frustration at how unfair it was, and with the long runs, that’s going to put some people off.
Cursed to Golf is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X & S for $19.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Cursed to Golf.