Developer: Blacklight Interactive
Price: $14.99 (Steam), $19.99 (Console)
Few sports are as simple and enjoyable as golf, especially in its miniature form with friends. Inventive courses, zany obstacles, frustrating hole-in-one trick shots, and the boisterous laughter that follows are all what make mini golf special. While there are always the serious sports sims like Tiger Woods PGA Tour and The Golf Club, room must be made for the childish among us, which is exactly where Golf With Your Friends (originally titled Golf with Friends) comes into the fairway.
Spiritual Content: The Haunted course theme includes ghosts and self-moving furniture as obstacles to overcome. Oasis features depictions of Egyptian gods, and Museum features a curse mechanic that makes some objects solid instead of transparent.
Violence: The Worms themed course has various war vehicles and weapons from the Worms franchise—such as the Holy Hand Grenade—as decorations and obstacles.
Miniature sports are the best; puppy bowl, Foosball, and mini golf are great for folk who are not the most athletic and even better for observers in most cases. Especially with the puppy bowl, those dogs are the best. But when it comes to the outdoors and being with friends, mini golf has the others beat. There is just this certain charm that comes from the themed courses set up for your enjoyment. This is one of the things at which Golf With Your Friends excels.
Each of the twelve courses (eleven on console at time of writing) tackles a different aesthetic and nails it perfectly. Forest features a variety of greenery with some lumberjack-ness mixed in. Pirate Cove is all about high seas adventures ending with a Kraken. Space Station contains out-of-this-world scenery involving gravity wells and laboratories. Every obstacle and layout is perfectly crafted to complement their particular themes. Some courses share mechanics and still look right at home. Even the holes are cleverly designed, and secret passages and bounce points are hidden just enough that finding them–intentionally or not–is a delight.
When it comes to controls, things could not be simpler. On PC, simply click and hold the left mouse button, move left and right to choose the direction, and up or down to adjust the shot power. On a controller, simply move the left thumb-stick up or down for power and left and right on the right thumb-stick for angle. I personally prefer the mouse, but both options are supported on PC so I was not forced to use a method I did not like.
Something neat that goes a long way is the customization options. Not only can I change the type of game I play between Classic, Hockey, and Dunk, I can also change if power-ups are allowed, collision between players, starting position, jumping, and gravity. The golf ball customization options are particularly robust; I can change its color or shape, add silly accessories–such as a T-Rex head, a dapper rubber duck, or a personal flotation device–and enable a trail like some laser rings or Christmas cookies. There are so many options, and they are all unlockable. There are no microtransactions, just an optional $1.99 pack for some extra goodies.
Multiplayer is obviously a big draw for this title since, it is in the name. Everything is simple to set up for local and online multiplayer. When playing offline, a simple tap of the button adds a player, and up to twelve can fit in a lobby. Every player takes a turn on their shots, and it waits for the player to confirm they have the controller before starting the standard two minute timer for each person. In online, it is a total free-for-all. Everybody shoots when they want, which can lead to total chaos when collision is turned on. Lobbies, which are set by region, are easy to set up and join too, and every option from local mode is available here as well. Lobbies can be set with a password too to keep nasty trolls out. What is even better is that the online servers worked right out the gate with very few hiccups.
Even with so many great things to rave about, no game is perfect. There are a few holes that feel cheap in trapping the ball from progressing. One example in particular is in the Pirate Cove course. While it has many options for getting the ball in the hole, there are areas that are darn near impossible to pass. This area has a channel of water to pass with a large gap to get to the hole. If I did not use the exact power level to cross, I would either land in the gap or I would get across but have my ball roll itself over the other side of the landing where there is no wall to save me. There have also been instances where I have found myself stuck under the map with no way to reset myself. While there is an option to turn it on in custom games, I have only had this issue so far in Classic mode where it is not enabled. This has led to timing out a hole or running out of strokes trying to escape, costing me an achievement or the lead.
Golf With Your Friends is a wonderful experience to play on an evening to relax with the homies or by yourself. With its issues few and far between, this game excels at being what it is supposed to. Every course and hole is lovingly crafted to give you the perfect mini golf experience at home, even if there bugs either way. It would be a shame to not give this game a shot, especially with its cheap price and availability on Xbox Game Pass. Golf With Your Friends is an albatross right into the hole.
The Bottom Line
Golf With Your Friends is exactly what it touts and does not disappoint one bit.