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Take to the Course with OK Golf

I’ve never had much interest in real golf, a sport that requires more money, patience, and dedication than I will allocate to anything besides my significant other and Apple products. I have to admit, though, that I’m a sucker for anything on the videogame golf spectrum, from the ultra-simplistic Desert Golfing to Wii Sports’ golf.

Much of what I enjoy about golf videogames appears in OK Golf, a zen, bite-sized take on the genre. It’s no mini-golf simulator, though, and its distinction will leave you immersed in a tiny world of varying terrain and challenging gameplay.

Mechanics and Gameplay

OK Golf follows the traditional pull-for-power method, one that requires you to pull your finger back on the screen to adjust the power of your shot. Accuracy is affected by the amount of force you put behind a shot, so be careful when trying to hit a ball the farthest distance.

The rest of the gameplay behind OK Golf is pretty much what you’d expect – a par is set for a hole, and you take as many strokes as you need to reach the cup. Ideally, you stay on the fairway, but usual obstacles like sand traps and lakes will challenge your shots. Depending on the landscape, you may also see trees, mountains, or cacti.

Surveying the entire course can take some getting used to, especially because rotating the course and zooming in on the ball require drag gestures similar to power control. During the tutorial, the game teaches you what you need to know about the proper techniques, but know that it still may take some practice to master.

In free play mode, OK Golf rates your performance in stars, with one representing a bogey or worse, two meaning par, and three signifying a birdie or better. Unlocking new levels means reaching a certain star count – a mechanic that may require you to replay levels to improve your score.

For the championship and timed modes, your stroke count or speed is rated only by three stars.

Course Design

OK Golf describes its courses as a set of dioramas, which I’d say fits their design perfectly. Essentially, what you’re getting is a low-poly square of course which seems to be floating in an otherwise landscape of nothingness. Sound confusing? Check out the screenshots below.

While nontraditional, OK Golf’s level design feels innovative, making every detail in the tiny square feel critical to my completion. And while those details aren’t designed to be high-resolution, they do look fantastic – trees are colorful, water is reflective, and terrain shifts are easy to pick out.

OK Golf’s design choices position it between minimalistic and superfluous, a spot that many games usually can’t hit. Frankly, I think that OK Golf’s design is as good as it comes, and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to hear its name called during the Apple Design Awards at WWDC 2017.

Currently, there are 36 playable holes broken down by sets of nine across four courses: Long Lake County, Desert Canyon, Tsukimi Garden, and Pahoehoe Ridge. Because of their varying geographic locations, each has its own specific course design.

The game’s atmosphere is aided by some ambient nature sounds, mostly consisting of the chirping of crickets and the occasional eagle screech. I actually find this relaxing, and if you’re playing OK Golf by yourself or with headphones in, I encourage you to turn the sound on.

Conclusion

So far, I’ve been really pleased with OK Golf. As a 1.0 product, it’s been stable, polished, and tons of fun. As a simple golf game, I don’t expect more than the addition of courses, but the gameplay and mechanics of OK Golf don’t leave me asking for much more.

You can download OK Golf as a Universal app on the App Store here for $2.99.

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