From Guns to Gravity Wells, Golf For Workgroups is a Zany Take on Hitting the Links
Golf for Workgroups is an interesting golf game (duh) that’s currently available via Early Access . It allows up to four players to join together online to play golf. There's the traditional stroke mode, wherein you compete to get the ball in the hole within fewer strokes than your competitor (or the designated par for the level). And a solo and team speed mode, wherein you attempt to get the ball in the whole either faster than your opponent or faster than the timer.
Setting Itself Apart
When you load up Golf for Workgroups, perhaps the first thing you will notice is its weird, off-putting aesthetics. For instance, you and your fellow cohorts play as a robot. You either have a revolver, teapot, or some other type of gun, such as an AK47, for your head. Your caddy is a smaller robot sitting on a wooden stool with a trash bin on top of his head. He teleports to the ball every time it lands and you can possess him in order to follow your ball through the air or just in order to move around the map really fast.
Many of the levels also prominently feature large statues of robots as well. The prominent use of robots begins to lend the game a little bit of a Nier Automata feel; just in the most periphery of ways though. Oh, and your cart has a jet on the back of it.
Golf for Workgroups differs from EA’s dominant PGA Tour games both through its open levels and its control scheme. First and foremost, the game feels slightly more realistic-- hang with me-- through the fact that you actually walk around the course yourself, as opposed to merely being teleported next to your ball like in PGA Tour. This lends the game a somewhat more personal feel to it as you stand on the ground and watch the arcing line get drawn behind the ball as it flies through the air; this is always an oddly satisfying feeling. This is also where high jinks with the carts come into play.
There is also the way that you actually hit the ball. Once the ball is placed on the game, you choose to hit it in two steps. Step one is relatively simple: you angle it in the direction that you want to hit it.
The second step is similarly simple but holds some hidden depth. Along the bottom of the screen, a bar will appear. The far right of the bar represents the start of your swing, the left represents the end of your swing. You slide your cursor from right to left to represent hitting the ball.
What makes it unique, however, is that moving your cursor above the line will cause it to curve toward the right. Similarly, moving the cursor below the line will cause it to curve to the left. By moving it from top to bottom or vice versa while swinging you can cause your ball to do curving patterns in the air. While this is interesting, the game doesn’t really explain the particularly well nor do they seem to ever really utilize it.
Some of the levels also feature unique quirks, such as the gravity wells, as mentioned in the title. Or one level where the game starts out with a giant hollowed out robot statue in the distance. Landing the ball in it will cause the ball to drain out of a port in the bottom and into the hole.
Personally, this is where I think the game should go: more interesting mechanics and more wacky, mini-golf like set pieces. Sure, we have gravity wells, but what about gravity whales? Some new mechanics, like time dilation zones, areas where time is slowed allowing you to hit the ball in midair, could also provide interesting challenges.
It’d also be nice to see more than just the 9 holes. I think a great way to utilize the levels would be in a structure similar to Mario Galaxy games (explained in greater detail in the video below). Boxboy has done a similar thing wherein they introduce a mechanic and then build it up over the course of several levels. In this way, the levels of Golf for Workgroups could even develop a strategic, puzzle-like quality to them.
The cars are also fun to control. The time-based modes can already be a thrill, so making levels specifically built around using the fun to use carts would be even better. I imagine a giant, labyrinthine hill you must navigate your way up as you race through it while competing against a friend.
Some new mechanics, like time dilation zones-- areas where time is slowed allowing you to hit the ball in midair-- could provide interesting challenges. There could also be extra bouncy surfaces, portals, or interactable objects-- such as domino-esque tablets which fall over when hit hard enough changing the play space in the process.
There could even be unique modes that facilitate these sorts of mechanics. Much like I Am Bread, in which you can play as many different types of bread (sliced, bagel, zero-g sliced, etc.), there wouldn’t be an explicit need to stay super strict with game modes.
You could revive the floating rings checkpoint based races that were all the rage in the era of 3D platformers. This would test your skill with making particular angles more so than traditional golf does. This could even utilize the unique mid-air curving mechanic rather nicely.
Like a tennis/volleyball mode. There’s a net in the middle, each player has jetpacks and time dilation zones above the court. You have a limited amount of time to jetpack to the ball as it enters your side of the field and knock it back. That could be fun. (Or maybe the pacing would suck and it wouldn’t be fun. I don’t know. Playtesting. Playtesting. Playtesting.)
I also imagine Rube Goldberg-like setups working off of things you setup in the environment. However, I think this might be exponentially more challenging to pull off than any one side mode might deserve the attention for.
You could also rip off Rocket League, by making the balls bigger and allowing the player to knock it around with their car. The sky's the limit really.
In short, I think this game holds a lot of promise. A lot more content variety and quantity could make this game extremely fun. And new modes could keep the game fresh when playing with your buddies. Ideally, this would culminate in something that makes me feel more like I am living out a Dude Perfect video rather than playing a slightly more interactive and a lot more twisted version of EAs PGA Tour.
If you are interested in playing Golf for Workgroups, then you can get it for only $4.99 via Steam for PC. It should be noted that the developers have stated that prices will rise as more content is added.