First Look: Vertiginous Golf brings the beauty of steampunk to mini-golf gaming

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Imagine yourselves in a world that is perpetually raining and in constant darkness – and no, this is not Melbourne during the winter. You are in a dystopian and depressing steampunk world that is enveloped by a permanent smog. Your only freedom from this world is a doorway that transports you to a virtual, sunny utopia – filled with warmth and complex machinery – where you… play minigolf?

Welcome to the world of Vertiginous Golf – developed by two indie developers Kinelco and Lone Elk Creative – a new and ambitious game that wants to change the tried-and-true structure of mini-golf games. How, you ask? By having a full-blown mystery story embedded in the gameplay. That said, we’ll have to wait and see when the full game comes out as the beta version currently available only gives you a very tiny snippet.

Despite being a beta, the game has already achieved a lot – the current version has fifteen playable holes, all designed beautifully. Each hole has their own quirkiness – some includes loops, hills, holes, and moving floors and blocks. The developers plan to have 18 holes for the Steam Early Access beta, and over 45 holes for the full version later in the year.

The gameplay is what is expected from a golf game – where players are able to control the aim and power of the ball; but with added features. Players are able to ‘rewind’ their shot, allowing them to redo a terrible shot without increasing their number of strokes. However, the action is limited so players will have to still weary about their shots.

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In addition, the game features some unique features which adds to the whimsical gameplay, just as multiple pathways via the “Teleportation Sphere Spitter”; “Moving Carpet”, which acts as a conveyor belt – propelling the ball while increasing its momentum; and “Free Shot Holes” – which acts as timed shortcuts without increasing the number of shots, allowing for the illustrious hole-in-one.

One interesting mechanic is examining the course. In most golf games, players are giving an overview look of the hole prior to the hole. In Vertiginous Golf, you are able to fly throughout the course via a mechanical hummingbird – allowing for a “birds-eye view for meticulous planning, or viewing the intricate and wonderful design of the course.

While golf games rarely capture my interests, this charming and relaxing game somehow peaked my interest. With the outrageous and creative course design and the stunning aesthetics, this game is one people should look out for. The only critique I have would be the speed of how the power gauge is filled – it’s just a tad too fast. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed getting the ball in the hole from a close distance.

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Vertiginous Golf does have multiplayer support. However, right now, it is just local multiplayer with plans to launch online multiplayer support when the full version is released. Other features in the works include daily challenges, a level editor to have your own courses, and Oculus Rift support.

The game is coming to Steam’s Early Access program in March 2014, but an early beta is available now from the website. Those who purchase the game now, however, will be able to unlock the full version and upgrades when it comes out later this year. As of right now, it is available on the PC with plans to have Mac and Linux versions released at launch.

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