Best played with friends
Golf is regarded as a slow, sophisticated, high-skill game that often requires one taking their time and embracing the silence of the sport. That’s not what “Golf With Your Friends” is. This is miniature golf, and it takes every opportunity to provide as much fun as possible for players on every course.
Customization is the name of the game. Rather than opting to have avatars, players control the golf ball itself. At the beginning of every turn, players can aim the ball, adjust a power meter that will show how hard the ball is going to be hit, and move the camera freely to view the course. You can customize your golf ball with a different color, a hat and floaty, and a stylized tail, among other things, and that way each player has their own unique ball. The rulesets can also be tailored, such as time limits for turns, showing where the flag is, and collision with other balls. Frankly, “Golf With Your Friends” gives as many options as possible to players who want to enjoy a game of miniature golf their way. It never feels like there is an overwhelming number of options because there are default rule sets that can be played to get a sense of how the game operates, as well as a very simple user interface that spells out every tool in the options. Up to 12 players can play at once in a game online, or you can take turns in local play.
There are 11 different themed courses that each house 18 distinct holes. The themes range from your standard forest setting, to more unique areas like candyland, a desert oasis, and more. I found that each course starts off with fairly basic and straightforward putt putt courses, and these ramp up in both difficulty and spectacle as the course progresses. There comes a point in each course where the set up is unrealistic and could only be experienced in a video game; otherwise, you’re looking at some of the most expensive and zany miniature golf courses ever created. Put simply, they each look great: filled with vibrant colors and unique models that add to the theme of the world. “Golf With Your Friends” is not trying to win an award in the graphics department, nor does it need to. It’s lower-poly look and stylized environments, while not breathtaking, are above serviceable and are definitely creative. Each course is complemented with music that can be hit-or-miss. Many of the tracks are pleasant background noise and others can be a little more distracting than necessary. After 10 holes in one course, you might find yourself lowering the volume because of how transparently looped the music is, and its repetitive melody can be a bit much.
The only nitpicks I have with the gameplay are the lack of a mini map and the meager amount of information with the power meter. A mini map, while not necessary given the option to freely move the camera around prior to beginning a turn, would be a helpful addition as it would make viewing the more “spectacular” courses easier. That said, there are courses that are designed to have tubes in them that cross paths in a maze-like fashion, and a mini map could compromise this part of the game, but the option would still be nice. Also, the power meter can be difficult to utilize at times. I found that gauging how hard a ball would go, took playing holes over and over. Of course, practice is helpful in every game, but there are many instances where you are presented with various ramps and half pipes that can throw off how hard you expect to hit the ball. I’m not looking for a marker that says “your ball will land here”, but something to indicate a ballpark distance would be helpful.
Golf With Your Friends provides the option for complete online support of up to 12 players. You can host a room, invite random strangers, join rooms with custom rule sets, the whole shebang. Unfortunately, despite how appealing this option is, there wasn’t a lot of availability for me to experience this. I played a handful of online matches, with zero lag but each was with only one other person, despite the high number of players that are supported. And, in all of these matches, the online players would quit about halfway through each course, leaving me to either quit or finish on my own. WIth time, I am hoping that the online pool of players increases, so that way this mode can be taken closer to a full 12-player game. But for now, I found a lot more fun playing locally. The experience was a lot slower because everyone took turns, but I still really enjoyed the local play quite a bit.
At the end of the day, Golf With Your Friends is a fantastic package that is extremely accessible with its large breadth of customization options for both local and online play. It has a lot of content to experience, and while I can’t say I will spend much time with it by myself, I know that it has now become a staple game to pull out at any gathering.