By Jonathan Falu / February 2nd, 2017
|Developer||Kinelco & Lone Elk Creative|
|Release Date||March 7, 2014|
Golf was never my cup of tea, barring maybe mini-golf as a kid. Though it’s very easy to reel me back in with a concept as strange as Vertiginous Golf. Developed by Kinelco & Lone Elk Creative, they intend to take advantage of a 3D environment to create challenging courses. But can it score a hole-in-one? Let’s take a look!
There is a story to the game, kind of. It consists of four courses, each with more complicated set-ups. When you hit certain spots with a record, there are voices that give exposition through flowery and philosophic dialogue that is honestly hard to understand. I assume there was some kind of rebellion of sorts? None of it made any real sense as I kept playing, and it can largely be ignored as there is a lack of characters, to begin with. The most you need to know is that you are a random guy or girl who goes to a shop to experience virtual reality golf. That’s all you ever need to know.
The graphics are decent for the most part. Each area feels quite massive no matter what stage you are on, with tons of platforms and obstacles set in your way. Everything is also bright enough so you can see what you are doing and where the ball goes. Your character model can be customized with different clothing and such, but it will rarely have an impact on the game. The music is fairly forgettable, meant to be more soothing than anything else. Sadly, it doesn’t do that job as I will soon explain.
There are the usual obstacles such as ramps, treadmill pads that force your ball into other directions, blocks, moving stages, and much more. Sometimes you can find areas that can not only instantly have your ball travel ahead in the stage, but arrive safely and not count the stroke to your record, making it possible to get a hole-in-one. Hitting your ball the right way requires a lot of practice. At least that’s what I wanted to hope for due to certain accidents. Often I would somehow end up with the ball flying off the stage because it was swung hard during a certain angle. Yet when I made the next shot, it would ram right into the wall at high speed. The game will not forgive you if a shot is made out of bounds, and it will count as a stroke. The goals are similar to real golf, in that you must get to the hole in the least amount of shots possible. The scoreboard will let you know if you took too many shots on certain stages by highlighting the number red. And sadly, because you cannot project where your shot will land, it does take trial and error to figure things out.
Fortunately, you have many tools on your side to help. For starters, if you do not like how a shot is going, you can use up some fuel from your ball to rewind the shot. However, there is only a limited amount. Without a sufficient level of fuel, this ability will be locked off. It also doesn’t refill in-between stages, and only fills back up when taking multiple strokes. Thankfully, there are more perks when using the rewind feature, such as not only seeing the trail your previous shot made but also in seeing how much power you used previously. This can help in planning your shots better, and it won’t break the game, thankfully. However, this also makes adjusting the camera difficult as the controls switch a bit, so you could end up activating the ball manipulation when you really don’t want it to.
Next is your hummingbird, as you can use it to navigate the entire map to plan out shots and try to avoid obstacles. It’s the only function it serves, but it’s greatly appreciated when levels can get far too big. You can even sacrifice some of your rewind meter to manipulate the ball to go elsewhere, like trying to not fly off the edge, or shift away from a certain obstacle that can reset your progress. The bad news is that the camera can often be a problem when making shots, especially when in areas with walls. And ever since starting story mode, there have been these paragraphs of text blocking my view, making stuff such as creating new holes quite a huge problem, so I had to turn them off. I feel the lack of rewards is also not much of an incentive to keep playing. The most you can get are just cosmetics that don’t affect much outside of getting bonuses to get even more money.
There are of course multiple modes to choose from. The tutorial has plenty of stages to get used to the gameplay and teach you the mechanics. Multiplayer is sadly dead, so I was unable to get online and play some matches. Fortunately, there is a create-a-course mode, which allows any player to make a stage and share it publically for all other players. While I couldn’t find anyone online to play with, there are still people creating stages to this day. And you can create them as well, though you will need to go through the tutorial. Creating a stage is also significantly easier with a keyboard and mouse, and felt impossible with a controller.
Then there are also races to get your ball into the main hole. There are no limits to the amount of shots you can take. The other holes act as checkpoints to get into a new area and not accidentally send you back to the beginning, somehow. But getting your ball over to the next area without somehow getting the ball into the hole will reset your progress. Just trying to get the ball into a hole in order to keep advancing through the stage was infuriating, as it would often just skip over it.
Next is a mode where you get a few chances to try and get to the hole. However, your shots are not set after a single hit. You must use the obstacles around the area to try and get as close to the hole as possible. The closer you get there, along with hitting these glowing eggs, the more points you gain. Unlike in the other modes, you cannot use rewind, and this is the mode where trial and error comes into play the most. It takes quite a lot of practice to learn about the stages to know how to get around.
The story mode is surprisingly the hardest, despite seeming like it would be the easiest. The reasoning for that is because of a new addition: hitting the ball into records. This grants you free strokes, so you can adjust the ball freely to get a chance to get the ever-so-rare hole-in-one, which grants you an extremely large reward. The problem is that the main hole will be blocked until you pick up every single record. And keep in mind the complicated courses. This can lead to several strokes for making a single mistake, and the experience becomes a nightmare to deal with if you have not honed your skills/prayed a lot.
Overall, I had a mixed experience with Vertiginous Golf. It certainly works, and what content players have made help it to keep it floating. However, the multiplayer is currently dead, and to those without patience, they will likely give up due to how frustrating taking some of these shots can get. If you are interested in golf, you may wish to check this out when it goes on sale, at the very least. The game is currently $9.99. Depending on your play-style, this can last about five hours, which is how long it took me to wrap up the story and get some added practice.
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