Golf games generally come in a wide variety of flavors. You have realistic simulations like PGA Tour 2K21, more arcade games like Mario Golf: Super Rush, and abstract, minimalist games like Golf Club: Wasteland. The last camp is A Little Golf Journey, where short, carefree levels await you with an accompanying selection of relaxing music. It’s a game that knows who it wants to be, but is admittedly in constant danger of repetition due to the apparent lack of variety in the levels themselves.
Like many other minimalist golf games on the market, A Little Golf Journey doesn’t valid players, nor any supportive crowds; it’s just you and the ball. Each level is a kind of diorama, and you start exploring the area by moving the camera, plotting the best route to the hole. Once you’re done, you can customize your shot.
Aiming and adjusting your power level is fun and easy. You simply move the analog stick in the direction you want to move and the supporting arrow shows you exactly where the ball might hit the ground. You can hold the ZR button to add a little extra power to your shot, although this will increase the likelihood of the ball going out into the field or into the bunker. Conversely, holding down the ZL button will focus the shot and ensure that you hit the ball exactly in the direction you want.
Progressing in the game feels like a 2010 mobile game, where a certain number of stars are awarded for each level, depending on your results. Hit the ball as little as possible (you know how golf works, right?), And you will most likely get 3 or 4 stars; the more shots you take to reach your goal, the more stars will start falling. You progress from stage to stage in a linear fashion, but ultimately the game will require you to have a certain number of stars before it allows you to access the next set of stages. All the standard stuff.
With that in mind, replaying levels is the key to progress. The first time we ran into an obstacle in the hub world, we found ourselves only 2 stars short of access to the next area. The game doesn’t directly tell you about the star requirements, but once we found out, progress was much easier.
This does not mean that the game fully easy, however. Hitting a hole often seems impossible because your throw just won’t hit the green in the vast majority of stages. That would be nice, except that getting as many stars as possible often requires you to complete a stage in as little as one or two shots, so it seems like the game is often just setting you up for failure.
Replaying the levels only adds to the unpleasant feeling that A Little Golf Journey is too monotonous. As you move from one set of levels to the next, the visual design changes and some courses look really beautiful. However, this does not change the fact that the terrain simply lacks variety. The game clearly aims to provide a relaxing experience, but it also struggles to provide a great incentive to keep playing.