Here we are on Alpine Resort’s golf course, Hole 6 to be specific. It’s a beautiful day for it; there’s a slight north-westerly breeze, but nothing that’s going to put me off my game. My polo shirt’s tucked in, my trousers are belted, and my beer belly is overhanging. My Nike Tour Classic IV (Pearl White) golf glove firmly grips my mouse, and I tee off. Four quick Golf Gang shots later and I’m on for an Eagle, but then my mate drops a bomb on me, blasting me off the course and into the drink.
As my ball – a stylish, hot pink creation that is, of course, decorated with anime eyes and cat ears – is fished out of the water and reset, I am passed by several other golfers. One is green, moustachioed, and wears a small tree for a hat. The other, believe it or not, is a pufferfish.
With a solid suite of customisation options, Golf Gang is a game that not only plays good, but it looks good too. It’s classic mini golf, all gussied up ready for a Saturday night spent with up to eight players, racing their way through six distinctly-themed courses – all of which boast a full 18 hole round each.
The courses themselves come with their fair share of obstacles. On the sandy shores of Sandy Shores you’ll have to navigate around fruit crates and potted plants, while Alpine Resort will, at points, allow you to fly from one part to another in a plane. While there are only a few types of obstacle to be wary of, the form they take in each course fits seamlessly.
My favourite of the included courses is easily the eerily-charming Haunted Hollow. When attempting to cross certain sections, bouncing boo-lloons will help you across gaps, and pumpkin obstacles give out a fiendish chuckle when you collide with them. It’s all very silly, but the personality of each course shines through thanks to how vibrant they are – characteristically and visually – with each element harmonising well.
It’s truly a profound, existentially-enriching experience
At its core, Golf Gang’s gameplay loop is simple: move your mouse around to aim your ball, hold down left-click and drag back to adjust the power of your shot, then let loose while trying to avoid getting kablammed off the course. Bonus points at the end of each hole are awarded to both the fastest player, as well as the player who made it with the fewest shots. Throughout each game, you’ll earn coins that can be used to snag more cosmetics, courses, and mods from the in-game shop – don’t worry, no microtransactions here.
While skating across each course is all good and fun, it definitely needs some spice to match the flair provided by its customisation options… which is where the mods come in. From the shop, players can purchase 14 different mods at launch. Slapping one (or all of them, I don’t make the rules) on at the start of a round can do anything from reversing the direction of every other shot, to making the balls ridiculously bouncy, to making your ball grow every time you take a shot.
From the games I was able to play, Golf Gang’s mods quickly caused each hole to become more chaotic than the last, and it’s bloody good fun. Some players had clearly learned all the tricks and skips on each course, which made it even more satisfying when I *totally accidentally* sent them flying. Golf Gang isn’t a game about reaching the hole at the end of each course, it’s about the sheer amount of misfortune you can inflict upon your nearest and dearest on the way – it’s truly a profound, existentially-enriching experience.
Naturally, if you’ve become the Scottie Scheffler of Golf Gang, then you might tire of its basic courses. Fortunately, developer Lazy Monday Games has included Steam Workshop support, so needless to say it hopefully won’t be long before a host of new challenges crop up post-launch.
Golf Gang also packs a Time Trials mode, because this is, of course, a racing game in a golf game’s clothing. While I thought I was pretty quick in the game’s standard mode, I was horrified to find that I was nowhere near even the bronze medal time in the time trials. With plenty of space for mechanical expression, I could definitely see more competitive players and even speedrunners challenge themselves to top the leaderboards.
Golf Gang is a hectic, electric party game which has the scope to extend well beyond its launch day package. Without mods, it is a charming-enough little racer, but with them enabled it turns into a completely different beast. But beware, you might find yourself down a few friends by the end of the 18th hole, though the bragging rights are absolutely worth it.