Golf is one of the sports that I have the most conflicting feelings towards. I have no interest in watching the sport and while I have enjoyed playing it, I have rarely played it. Despite this, I have always kind of liked the video game genre as I was a pretty big fan of the Mario Golf series. I generally don’t play a lot of golf games though as it still isn’t one of my favorite genres. In particular I don’t care for realistic golf games as I prefer a more casual approach to the genre or something that actually tweaks the formula in an interesting way. While it might look like a traditional golf game, I was intrigued by A Little Golf Journey as it looked like it had a puzzle element to it which is arguably my favorite video game genre. A Little Golf Journey is not going to convert anyone that doesn’t care for golf, but it creates a fun and relaxing game that is somehow also an interesting puzzle game.
While it shouldn’t be much of a surprise based on the title, at its core A Little Golf Journey is a golf game. The game is broken down into individual holes with the objective of each being to try and get your ball into the hole in the least number of strokes as possible. You will receive a number of stars based on how well you do on a hole. These stars are used to unlock additional holes. To shoot you just press a button to bring up the aiming arc which you can adjust to add more or less strength to a shot. When applying more power to a shot your aiming will be unsteady. You can temporarily press a button to steady this, but it wears off if you don’t shoot quickly after activating it. When you are ready to shoot you just press a button and hit the ball. The game doesn’t rely on timing your button presses or using other mechanics found in most golf games. The ball will initially land on the spot indicated by the aiming arc and will then roll based on momentum and the slope of the land.
The thing that I was kind of surprised by is the fact that A Little Golf Journey is just as much a puzzle game as a golf game. Basically to get the maximum number of stars from a level you need to figure out the best way to approach each level. In most cases this is different than how you would approach a typical golf game. Most holes have a secret path which you can shoot through which will save you a number of strokes. As you don’t have to rely on timing your shot perfectly, your success relies on finding the best path through a hole to reduce your number of strokes. To get the maximum number of stars for most of the levels it requires shooting the ball into the hole from a long distance. You can still finish the holes without taking advantage of the puzzle mechanics, but you will have no chance at getting more than maybe one or two stars.
Before playing A Little Golf Journey I was intrigued by the game due to the puzzle elements. I was a little surprised that they play a bigger role in the game than I was expecting. In fact in some ways I would say that A Little Golf Journey is arguably more a puzzle game than a golf game. This is because while you are playing golf, each hole in the game is designed as a sort of puzzle where you have to figure out where to shoot to take advantage of shortcuts and the other quirks of each level. This was a really interesting twist on your typical golf game. If you are looking for a traditional golf game this may not be for you. I personally liked the change of pace though as I thought it perfectly blended a golf game with puzzle elements. A lot of the holes have some well planned out puzzles where you need to carefully think about where you want to shoot the ball.
On top of trying to reduce your score, carefully observing each hole can pay dividends by allowing you to find a number of hidden elements present in many of the holes. The game has quite a few hidden holes that can only be unlocked if you find secrets hidden in other holes. These mostly entail hitting the ball into a hard to spot object on the course. Once you hit this object you will have to complete a sort of challenge. If you complete the challenge you can then hit the ball into a secret hole in order to unlock the hidden level. If you ignore these hidden holes you are missing a key part of the game as these hidden levels can be some of the best in the game.
A Little Golf Journey is pretty much the definition of a laid back relaxing game. Between the serene atmosphere to the fact that there is no rush to any of the holes, it is the type of game that you can just sit back and enjoy at your own leisure. The game does a really good job at creating a calming experience. While it can hurt when you barely miss out on getting the most stars possible from a level, the game never becomes frustrating. The game’s visuals are quite nice and the background music sets the mood for a relaxing experience. If you are looking for a game to calm down after a stressful day, A Little Golf Journey may be exactly the game you have been looking for.
Just because the game is relaxing, it does not mean that the game is some casual game that has no challenge. It really depends on the hole, but most are generally moderately difficult if you want to get the maximum number of stars. If you don’t really care about getting all of the stars, the game isn’t all that difficult as you don’t need even close to all of the stars to unlock the next set of levels. There also are some levels where it is pretty easy/obvious how to get all of the stars. Others can be quite difficult where you basically need the perfect approach and still need the exact right bounces in order to get all of the stars. I would say that most of the holes are moderately difficult where you likely won’t get all of the stars on your first attempt. You usually won’t have to keep retrying a hole many times in order to get all of them though. While the game requires you to make some tough shots to master a hole, it is really satisfying when you are able to make a long distance shot.
While I had quite a bit of fun playing the game, I would say that the biggest problem that I had with it was the fact that it is the type of game that works best in shorter doses. Some people may have no trouble playing the game for hours at a time, but I generally preferred playing it for a half hour to an hour and then coming back to it later. The gameplay is fun, but it doesn’t really change outside of the obstacles that each hole presents. Therefore after a while the holes tend to blend together. If you play the game in shorter doses, the gameplay remains fresh for longer and I think that benefits the overall game. I think this works well with the game’s relaxed atmosphere as well.
As for A Little Golf Journey’s length I would say that it is pretty good. How much you get out of the game will somewhat depend on how you approach the game. If you just play each of the holes once, it will be quite a bit shorter than if you try to find all of the hidden levels and try to get all of the stars from each hole. The game has over 100 different holes. The holes will take less than a minute to play unless you take a long time to set up your shots. I would guess it will take a couple of attempts to get the maximum number of stars from most of the holes. I haven’t completed all of the holes so I can’t give you a definitive length. If you just play each hole once, you may be a little disappointed. If you search out the secrets and try to get all of the stars though, I think you will be satisfied by the game’s length.
While I don’t generally play a lot of golf games, I enjoyed my time with A Little Golf Journey. At first glance it seems similar to your typical golf game as the gameplay is similar to other golf games. What distinguishes the game from most other golf games though, is that it utilizes a sort of puzzle element as well. In order to get most of the stars, you need to figure out the best path through each hole. Most of the holes have secret paths and other shortcuts that you can utilize in order to reduce your strokes. This makes each of the holes feel like their own little puzzle. This combined with the relaxing atmosphere creates a fun golf game that you can play while trying to relax. The game is usually moderately difficult even though some of the holes can be pretty challenging to get all of the stars. A Little Golf Journey is also best enjoyed in shorter doses instead of long marathon sessions. It is still a fun and interesting golf experience though.
If you don’t generally like golf games or don’t think the puzzle elements sound all that interesting, I don’t know if the game will be for you. Those who have at least some interest in golf though and are intrigued by the puzzle element should enjoy A Little Golf Journey and consider picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Okidokico and Playtonic Friends for the review copy of A Little Golf Journey used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.