The final week of the year is always one of my favorites. Yes, we’ve all seen the memes that say how time doesn’t exist during this week, where no one knows what day it is, and we all sit around in sweatpants as we eat cheese in a drunken stupor. And while true to an extent, I’ve typically used this week as a bit of a reset. Work is usually slower, allowing me to reflect on the previous year and prepare for the goals that I hope to achieve in the new year. It’s also a week where I turn off my brain a bit and unwind by playing low-key, low-stress games. A Little Golf Journey – from developer Okidokico – fits the bill perfectly. With its low-stakes, easygoing gameplay, and mellow soundtrack that blends effortlessly with the overall vibe, A Little Golf Journey is exactly the game I needed to relax this week.
A Little Golf Journey is a minimalistic golf adventure that sees you playing through the courses of various locations such as a lush forest, a sandy pyramid-filled desert, some grassy plains with castle ruins, and even a futuristic synthwave-neon world. Each level is essentially a self-contained diorama tasking you with getting your golf ball from the tee box to the hole in as few strokes as possible – the less strokes you take, the better your star rating will be, with stars being the primary source of progressing through the game. However, A Little Golf Journey expands beyond that of a typical point A to point B golf game.
Much of the game’s charm is that it encourages you to explore each course outside of the fairway. Sure, your shot might land out of bounds forcing you to restart, but sometimes, you just might find a secret waiting for you beyond the pine trees or on an island that you’re only able to see by positioning the camera in a certain way. These secrets unlock new areas and rewards that you can use along your journey, such as additional stars, if you happened to fall a bit short of a perfect rating on a previous hole or two. The exploration dynamic in A Little Golf Journey succeeds in its attempt of keeping me engaged in its heartwarming narrative, while staying a bit more alert and curious in each level.
A Little Golf Journey isn’t necessarily a hard game, even in the later levels, but there is some skill required when it comes to planning out your ball’s route and executing it in as few strokes as possible. Longer shots will cause the line of your trajectory to sway back and forth more than a short to mid-shot. This can be remedied with a temporary hold mechanic (much like holding your breath when sniping in a first-person shooter), but I find it much more fun and satisfying to let the sway work for me and my shot. I may not make every shot, but it feels pretty great when I do.
The controls of A Little Golf Journey are solid, but I’d recommend using a keyboard and mouse far more than a controller. The controls are a bit wonky with a controller and are much tighter with a keyboard/mouse. This may not come as a surprise to most, but as someone who generally prefers a DualShock controller over a keyboard/mouse, I just thought it should be noted.
Finally, the music in A Little Golf Journey is peak easygoing and chill vibes. The original soundtrack was composed by Haakon Davidsen, and it’s one of those types of soundtracks that you could play in the background as you’re working, studying, or relaxing on the couch and doing nothing. I haven’t played a The Sims game in years, but the simple acoustic guitar and piano melodies in A Little Golf Journey invoked a sweet, nostalgic feeling for me, reminding me of the relaxing music from the build mode in the original The Sims games – a feature that I adored even as a pre-teen.
A Little Golf Journey is about as low-stress as you can get. It’s wholesome and minimalistic interpretation to a traditionally VERY stressful sport is wonderful and is a great way to unwind after a long day (or even longer year).
GamingPizza Rating: 8 out of 10
A PC copy of A Little Golf Journey was provided to GamingPizza for this review. A Little Golf Journey is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch, and is currently 15%-off during the Steam Winter Sale.