Golf is one of the world’s most popular sports, but for those who are not fascinated by its sedate nature it's just, in the words of Mark Twain, a good walk spoiled.
Fortunately for golf's detractors, Par Out Golf is not a golf simulation but a golf-line drawing hybrid that tests your memory, skill, and composure.
Cloudy with a chance of Golf balls
At first glance, the game is not too dissimilar from the actual sport of golf, in that you have to guide a ball from the tee to the hole in as few shots as possible.
However, that’s where the similarities end. Instead of setting the power and accuracy of your shot, you determine the path of your ball by dragging your finger around the course.
The game does not adhere to conventional laws of physics, as the ball can seemingly travel any distance and make repeated twists and turns in any direction. You can select your clubs manually or let your Scottish caddy, McCaddy, do it for you.
This may all sound rather easy so far, but what we haven’t mentioned is that once you tap and hold the ball to begin your shot, clouds suddenly appear, reducing visibility to zero and forcing you to rely solely on your memory to reach the hole.
Other obstacles such as trees, rocks, sand traps, and water hazards further conspire to halt your march to the pin, while varying wind conditions also alter the ball's trajectory.
This means that taking a greater number of shots to reduce the risk of hitting one of these objects is often a wiser option than going for a dramatic hole in one.
The action mainly takes place on 2D courses that boast a hand-drawn effect, with hazards and course features such as downhill slopes clearly defined.
You can win up to four badges on each hole in single-player mode, and you're awarded for achievements from completing the hole to more difficult feats such as holing an eagle. Acquiring a certain number of these badges will unlock more holes, adding to the original total of nine.
In addition to single-player mode, both local and online multiplayer options are provided for those who wish to play with friends or want a random opponent.
Par for the Course
The game is challenging as it requires the use of different skills to reach the pin below par. You not only have to remember where the green and obstacles are, but also wield a steady hand when drawing lines.
The controls are simple and responsive, but one complaint is the unnecessary delay between starting a shot and the clouds covering the screen. Should you try to take a shot too soon, McCaddy will make an appearance explaining this, adding further delay to your attempt.
Another concern is the zoom function. Choosing a weaker club allows for more precise shots by zooming in on the course, but often it will zoom in too much, meaning that you have to use a stronger club and lose such benefits.
The limited number of holes is also slightly disappointing, but fortunately the difficulty in mastering them and obtaining all the badges means that they should have at least some longevity.
It’s this accessible yet challenging nature that makes the game so appealing. If you want a true golf simulation then you're better served elsewhere, but for those who want something a little different, then Par Out Golf is well worth the green fees.