When I think about sports games, my mind drifts straight towards the high octane and overly competitive aspects of the FIFA, EA NHL and NBA 2K series. A Little Golf Journey is nothing like these games and to class it as just a sports game does a huge disservice to the experience.
I found myself in a state of utter relaxation as I worked my way through the levels, admiring the beauty of the world that had been built. You have no choice but to just sit back, enjoy and destress when playing A Little Golf Journey and I'm not sure a game has ever made me feel this way before.
It's about the Journey
Gameplay takes a backseat in A Little Golf Journey as it's all about, well, the journey. There are nine maps to take on, each with its own beautifully unique art style and atmosphere. You're being guided through the world by a mysterious character known only as X, who leaves you notes to offer encouragement and support throughout your time playing.
They are also the entity that teaches you how to play, which is a fairly simple exercise. Each level begins with you in a tee box of sorts. Your goal in each level is very straightforward, get the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. A golfing concept that anyone can understand.
You'll earn stars for each level depending on how many shots it took and this is displayed as a countdown of sorts in the top right-hand corner of the HUD. Speaking of the HUD, it's very minimal and gives you all of the information you need at all times. Whether on the course playing a level or in the overworld exploring the maps, it doesn't dominate the screen but helps get you where you need to be.
Controls are as expected when playing on the Nintendo Switch. You press A to engage your shot, you can aim with the analogue stick and even switch to a power shot for increased distance at the cost of accuracy. You can also steady yourself to control your aim a little more, meaning that the overall difficulty is very well balanced - a term that could be used to describe the entire game. Camera controls are also free-flowing, making it much easier to explore levels and discover secrets.
When it comes to difficulty, A Little Golf Journey has one of the most satisfying and rewarding difficulty curves I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Replaying levels and figuring out how to earn maximum stars was not a grind, but instead an utter joy. While tracking back through previous levels, you can also discover secrets that are very fun to take on.
When you activate a secret, the game changes and becomes a checkpoint race of sorts. You must hit the ball into these wisps placed throughout the map, leading to the final one which reveals a secret hole. This then unlocks special routes and levels within the map you're currently playing on.
A Delight for the Senses
A Little Golf Journey had an inexplicable effect on me when I was playing. The overall ambience of the game created this mood in me where I felt it was impossible to be stressed, anxious or angry for any reason. Even if a level took five or six attempts to complete, the frustration never got the best of me.
The mix of stunning visuals, incredible soundtrack and simple gameplay all played a role in this. While there are plenty of games out there that I claim to play to relax, none are actually that relaxing and instead I'm relying on my familiarity with them to help take my mind off other things.
A Little Golf Journey, however, is the ultimate relaxing experience and a great game overall, whether you're a fan of golf or not.
I can't recommend A Little Golf Journey enough. My experience with it has been nothing short of a delight and it's left me with a brand new go-to game for when I need time away from the harsh reality of the real world.
RealSport Rating: 5 Stars out of 5
Our Switch review code for A Little Golf Journey was provided by Okidokico and Playtonic Friends.