Puzzle games aren’t always my jam, but every now and then I need a good brain tickle to get my mind off of things. Being election season, I’m sure you can see why I craved that sort of distraction now more than ever.
Enter the simple and clean world of Golf Peaks.
Initially a mobile game, this fun little Nindie tasks you with hitting a golf ball into a hole, but not in a traditional sense. Rather than swing a club and cheat on your spouse like Tiger Woods, you’ll instead methodically plot your way around an isometric grid made of squares by using various “turn cards.” Each card, shown on the bottom of the screen, displays a number and an action. The number indicates the uh… the number of spaces your ball will move, while the action shows you whether the turn will be a direct hit or a jump shot (sometimes both). You choose the direction, select a card, and try and make your way to the hole without falling off the map or running out of turns.
Make sense? You know, it’s probably best if I just show you.
So looking at the cards, from left to right, you’ll see that the first one indicates a “straight shot” of two spaces, while the next card is a jump shot that’ll hurdle over two spaces — these are often used to gain verticality or avoid hazards like sand traps and water. The third card combines the two, jumping one tile and following up with a straight shot for another space. The final two are the same, hurdling two spaces and then rolling for one more before stopping.
Golf Peaks has been absolutely wonderful to play through because of its overall simplicity that admirably paced me toward more difficult puzzles, rather than slamming its foot on the gas right from the jump. I wanted a chill little puzzle game to unwind with before bed, and that’s exactly what I got. None of the game’s levels were so difficult that I rage quit, but I’ll admit that some did require a second glance later in the day. THAT is what I want a puzzle game to do. I don’t want to breeze through it, but I also don’t want to sever my genitals with a butter knife. I want that nice, creamy middle.
The presented stages are all broken up into 12 individual levels that usually have their own simplistic visual flare and music, while focusing on its brand new way of hindering your progress. As you make your way through them, which will likely take you between three or four hours, you’ll be introduced to the game’s tile-based ruleset. Your run-of-the-mill tiles are just that, but others are plainly indicated as sand traps (where you can only use jump cards to escape), water (which places your ball back on the tile before it, often requiring you to use this to your advantage), color-coded tunnels that link to one another across the grid, conveyor belts, and springs to bounce off of.
Again, it’s probably easier if I just show you. Check out the trailer below for some actual gameplay.
Being a fairly minimalistic puzzle game, it’s to be expected that Golf Peaks runs just as well in handheld mode as it does while docked. For those of you (like me) that play your Switch on the TV a lot, you’ll be happy to know that the game does support the far superior Pro Controller. It also offers touch controls (initially being a mobile game and all) but I didn’t use them much since I don’t like smudging my screen.
Long story short, I loved Golf Peaks. I want MORE Golf Peaks. It’s one of the more unique takes on the puzzle genre and I really can’t recommend it enough. I picked it up on sale for a whopping $2 USD, but I think it’s only $5 USD otherwise. It does tend to go on sale quite often, though. Either way it’s well worth the asking price.
Here’s hoping the folks at Afterburn and 7LEVELS found success with their Switch port and we see more Golf Peaks content in the future!