I’m what you might call a casual appreciator of golf. While I do enjoy firing a few dozen golf balls – hopefully into some targets – at the driving range you’ll never catch me on an actual 18-hole course. Likewise, I’ll have a blast playing a video game series like Mario Golf or Everybody’s Golf but the more realistic takes on the sport lack that goofiness and over the top feeling I’m after. For me, it’s a case of the more unique and unexpected the better. And sure, Golf Peaks might not exactly be classed as your ‘typical’ golfing experience but it’s still a rather interesting take on the sport and one that had me hooked from the very first hole to the last.
Golf Peaks isn’t about timing the press of a button as a meter slowly fills or precisely flicking the control stick. Instead, the game plays out like a tile-based puzzler each hole small enough to fit on a single screen. The aim is still very much to sink the ball in the hole, but the types of shots you’re able to make depend on what cards you hold in your hand. Each card has a one-time use and grants a specific type of shot that includes a putt that rolls along the ground, a chip or a combination of the two. The game eases you into its premise, your repertoire of shots kept small and simple but as you progress through the hundred plus brainteasers your range of options will grow as the complexity of the puzzles do too.
Much like in actual golf the terrain of Golf Peaks can vary in both gradient and type, each of which will respond differently should your ball cross their path. Slopes, for example, will act pretty much as you’d expect with the momentum of the ball continuing if heading down but slowing if rolling up. Sand traps will stop any ball dead while water hazards will plonk you back to the last physical piece of land you passed before sinking. Whereas in regular golf you’d try to avoid such nightmares, in Golf Peaks you’ll often want to instead take advantage of them. A small square of sand can act as a means to stop the ball even if your shot distance reaches farther while a slope can be used to keep the ball rolling beyond its initial shot distance. The game keeps things interesting with enough obstacle types even including some more unorthodox ones (mud and conveyor belts), first introducing you to them then often combining with others to craft tougher holes.
Fortunately, a large chunk of the fun often comes from experimenting with your available cards and then planning ahead until you figure out the solution. Failure is never punishing since puzzles are small and restarting is quick. When you do figure out the winning sequence of events it’s hugely rewarding to watch your plan unfold step by step. Unfortunately without any form of hint system if you do find yourself well and truly stuck then there’s little you can do outside of jumping on YouTube for a solution. It’s hardly ideal and a definite area for improvement.
At a little over a hundred puzzles, the runtime for Golf Peaks isn’t a long one. That number also feels smaller when you consider the first quarter or so pose little threat and can be completed relatively quickly. On finishing my final puzzle all I could think was how I wish there was more. More puzzles and more head-scratching obstacles. Still, with its lower price point it’s hard to complain too much.
Golf Peaks feels right at home on the Switch it’s bite-sized puzzles perfect for tackling in handheld mode when you’re out and about. The touch screen controls are also a nice touch making choosing cards and direction quick and easy. The game also offers traditional controls (your only choice when playing in docked mode) and these function great too. The game’s stylish but clean visuals also translate well to the big or small screen.
Golf Peaks is a stylish and satisfying puzzler that takes the sport of golf and gives it an interesting twist helping it stand out in an already crowded genre. Sure it’s a little on the short side but it also means Golf Peaks never outstays its welcome. A golfing experience that’s more birdie than double bogie.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by 7Levels