You’d be forgiven for thinking a turn-based golf puzzle game would be difficult to pick up. Golf Peaks might be an odd mashup of genres, but it has more than just niche appeal. You’re given a hand of cards to play in any order you like and each card can move your golf ball a certain number of tiles around a grid, in whichever direction you choose. The objective, as with most games of golf, is to hit the ball towards the flag and hope to sink it into a hole.
What makes Golf Peaks so refreshing and clear-cut, however, is the clean, simplistic aesthetic. Everything is clearly visible, and the game does a good job of introducing new mechanics to you at a gentle pace. As you progress through each world, levels will begin to spawn unique terrain on select tiles, each with their own special effect. Balls can roll over mud tiles but if you finish a turn on one, it will swallow up the golf ball. Water, on the other hand, needs to be chipped over, which needs a special card.
The different types of cards allow you to either putt the ball along the ground, chip it into the air, or perform a combination of the two. Aside from the varying terrain, these allow to you navigate the various slopes, springs, and ledges that are also added to the later levels. Each level gives you a unique hand of cards, usually with only one solution to the puzzle at hand. They will throw some curveballs in there with cards that move further than you need, but this plays into the placement of terrain quite cleverly.
Though the challenge certainly increases as you make your way through the game, and each world has some particularly tricky optional levels, Golf Peaks provides simple, relaxing fun in spades. The ability to undo moves individually is fantastic from a user-experience perspective – nothing annoys me more in puzzle games than having to restart everything after a single mistake. The minimalistic graphics also make everything easy to understand, perfect for hooking you in.
Though the game is available on the PC and was originally an iOS game, the Switch is the perfect place to play it. There are touchscreen controls, but I found the regular control scheme was more intuitive, surprisingly. As with any Switch port, the option to take this on the go or view it on the big screen provides the utmost flexibility. Golf Peaks is perhaps best appreciated in handheld play, a timewaster for your busy commute or something to wind down with in bed.
There are 109 puzzles in Golf Peaks, including the optional toughies and a bonus credits level, so you’re probably looking at two or three hours of gameplay from this one. It’s a nice distraction, and the calming music makes it a relaxing experience, but you can easily blow through it before you realise what’s happened. Essentially, Golf Peaks is a brilliant concept, well executed, but it will leave you wanting more. The experience is over too quickly, and I would have loved another 50-100 levels. Maybe in Golf Peaks 2, eh?
Golf Peaks isn’t going to turn you into a golf-crazed nutter, hitting the links every weekend, but you also don’t have to be Tiger Woods to get the full enjoyment out of it. I can’t play golf to save my life and at a push, you might catch me playing an arcade title like Mario Golf, but the simple, satisfying charm of Golf Peaks has universal appeal. As long as you enjoy straightforward, isometric puzzles, you don’t want to miss this birdie putt.
REVIEW CODE: A FREE Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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