A promising crazy golf title from Blacklight Interactive, Golf With Your Friends may be the first decent game in this genre that I’ve seen for a long, long time.
An ambitious multiplayer attempt at bringing crazy golf to the masses. Is GWF on the right track?
Golf With Your Friends has been in Early Access for a considerable amount of time now but the game is close to being ready to release and should, ideally, be in pretty good shape.
For the most part, that’s very true. The game is stable in terms of performance, the multiplayer is as simple as can be to set up and works without issue most of the time – the odd quirk notwithstanding – and graphically it looks about finished.
The idea with Golf With Your Friends is to take on your friends, strangers or yourself on one of three 18-hole courses that feature various obstacles and mechanics. There are loops, chutes, launch pads and even escalators.
That’s not to say that this game goes over the top, though. Blacklight Interactive have managed to find produce three imaginative courses while keeping their feet on the ground. Often with those little flash games, you’ll find that things quickly get ridiculously complicated and the game becomes more about “look at this clever sequence we designed” rather than “try and get through this hole in one piece” – the latter being what crazy golf should be about.
Overall, it feels like the courses in Golf With Your Friends could exist in the real world, and that works in its favour.
Customise Your Game
Of the seven courses currently included, the forest is the easiest, the oasis a little harder, and the twilight level is fiendishly difficult.
There’s more to it than just playing one of the courses over and over again, though. It’s possible to change up the rules in ways that make big differences – whether it’s making the game more unpredictable, random, easier or harder.
This is where Blacklight Interactive have been really clever. They don’t force wacky modes on people, knowing that they could easily put people off. For instance, there’s an option to make the ball a lot bouncier. With this enabled, the game becomes unpredictable. Any ricochet is dicing with disaster, and holes that feature jumps are a real adventure.
There are other fun modes included, too. There’s a gravity setting in the options menu that allows you to switch between low, normal and high. Low gravity makes me think of that Red Dwarf episode where they’re trying to play golf on a moon. The ball will float through the air once it takes off, making courses where this happens feel completely different compared to when they’re played normally.
For beginners, there’s an option to show on the interface how hard your previous swing was - which can be a lifesaver for people who are, like me, rubbish at figuring out how hard they need to hit the ball in relation to the previous attempt, especially when you need to get the ball over a hill.
There are some other small rules changes available in there too - the ability to tweak how long each player has on a hole and how many shots they can take before they’re forcibly moved on. Both are absolute Godsends when playing with others - as long as they’ve been enabled - as it cuts down on the entire game being held up by someone who’s trolling or just not very good. This is especially important for a game that allows up to 12 players to compete at once.
What it Still Needs
Highest on my list of requirements for Golf With Your Friends is a preview mode. Some of the holes are large, and looking around from your starting point won’t always show you where the flag is or how to get to it. Being able to take a few seconds to look at a top down view of the hole would make the experience less frustrating for newbies, who are currently at a massive disadvantage if they come up against people who have played the courses through a few times.
I also feel that the basic gameplay isn’t quite there yet. First of all, the ball feels a little loose when it's rolling around. It's supposed to be on grass or concrete, depending on the course, but always feels like it's rolling along the same surface, which is too smooth for grass and not bumpy enough for concrete.
Second, the game is a little finicky when it comes to deciding what can role safely into the hole and what will bounce over the lip and fly off. At the moment it seems the ball either drops in or goes flying off the lip, which isn't ideal. Between patches it seems like they’re still making tweaks to the physics engine, so hopefully by full release they’ve got this nailed down.
The multiplayer scene at the moment is functional but aggravating at times. About one in four attempts to join a lobby end up in waiting around for a host that never actually starts the game. Whether this is a bug with the game or whether it’s just people going off while waiting for a room to fill I’m not sure, but it’s definitely an issue that gets mentioned often on the Steam discussion forums.
There are also sporadic issues with disconnections and some truly bizarre stuff can happen if you’re playing with someone who has high ping.
It’s currently at a pretty inviting price ($3.99). Which is a bargain for a game that’s fun and in a near-finished and stable state.
It looks like the game will get Steam Workshop support, too, which would be amazing. Whether that will include custom courses, I’m not too sure – if it does, the possibility for custom content is near endless.
Golf With Your Friends also has the potential to be a VR hit, especially with the more active HTC Vive headset. I’m not sure whether the developers have this planned or not, but the game already plays in first person, so adapting it to VR shouldn’t be impossible.
If you’ve been looking for a flexible crazy golf experience, Golf With Your Friends is it. It’s already a good game at this point in its development and it’s priced more than reasonably.) Blacklight Interactive have come up with an eagle where so many others – Worms Crazy Golf, stand up - could only scrape a double bogie. Get it at Steam