I’m not much of a sports person; never really got into any sport – and golf in particular always bored me. Yet I see the appeal in video game versions […]
I’m not much of a sports person; never really got into any sport – and golf in particular always bored me. Yet I see the appeal in video game versions of golf; especially the more arcade-style, mini-golf (or as we call it in the UK: crazy golf) type experiences that emphasise fun over simulation.
I was hesitant to give Walkabout Mini Golf a try because of my aversion to real life golf, but I’m genuinely glad I gave it a shot: it just might be my favourite VR game so far. Stick around and I’ll tell you why.
Firstly, it’s an incredibly easy game to pick up and play. Not only does everyone understand what they need to do in a golf game – ie get the ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible – but the game is designed in such a way to make it unbelievably intuitive and accessible.
There’s no complicated control schemes or issues with different heights or sensitivity to motion – it’s all beautifully designed to be as immediate and playable as possible. You can adjust the height of your club simply by pushing it into the ground, where it adjusts to accommodate your height and stance, then just hit the ball as hard as you choose. No buttons to worry about, just smack the ball when ready.
The physics are believable and satisfyingly implemented; it really is possible to git gud within just a few holes, though getting par or below on some of the more fiendishly designed courses is another matter.
There’s plenty of courses included to make your way through too; though you can purchase extra courses as DLC, it’ll take you a while to get through what’s included with the base game.
The ambience and general design of each individual course is wonderful too, giving each a distinct atmosphere and feel; it’s also really impressive how much variety there is in the environments of the courses. It’s incredibly immersive – and wandering around, either by teleporting or via smooth locomotion, is a joy in itself. It’s not the most detailed or high tech game, but the cartoony, stylised environments are brilliantly realised.
The killer feature for me isn’t necessarily even the golfing itself, however. Hidden on every single hole is a lost ball, each with a different design (and a bewildering variety of designs to discover). Finding a lost ball adds it to your collection, ready for you to choose it when you head back to the shack that acts as the game’s menu when you’re choosing a course.
This hunt for lost balls is a genuinely addictive pastime in itself – and sees you exploring every nook and cranny of the brilliantly designed worlds that make up the game’s courses. It’s so much fun to explore and discover new balls, that it sometimes feels like the actual golfing itself is a secondary task.
You’re also free to explore the courses at will and return to wherever your ball is any time you want. Or not at all, if you choose not to! Getting around the islands is a breeze, as you can also go to a map overview and teleport to any of the holes on the course; from this menu screen you can also track not just your score, but also which balls you’ve found as well.
It makes for a charming, sedate and wonderful slice of escapism that is surprisingly addictive. Sure, you’ll definitely want to bring yourself in under par by the end of each course – but you never feel like you’re missing out or failing if you don’t. There’s even ‘Foxhunts’ on each course, which see you tracking down clues to unlock new putters.
It feels like the developers really went all out to stuff Walkabout Mini Golf with gentle, engaging distractions along with giving us an effortlessly charming and straightforward game of golf that you can play solo or with friends.
Walkabout Mini Golf is a game that I’d highly recommend to any owners of Oculus (sorry, should that now be Meta?) Quest 2. It really is a game that anyone can play and enjoy – and while it might not push the hardware from a technical point of view, it doesn’t need to. It’s a beautifully designed game with a genuinely immersive ambience and it feels as if there’s loads to do.
It’s the kind of experience that works so well in VR, that it’s hard to imagine playing a title in the same genre on more traditional consoles ever again. Which is just about the highest praise you could possibly give for any VR game – and it’s praise that’s more than deserved when it comes to Walkabout Mini Golf.
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