In the lead-up to the Steam Next Fest, we’ve been taking a closer look at one of the games taking part. Par For The Dungeon is a golf puzzle game from Canadian developer Sleeping Giant Games.
Good Times As Par As The Eye Can See
We meet our golf ball hero, Cal, as they are enjoying an afternoon with their pet dog when disaster strikes. Bogeys – spikey, dark-grey blobs with surprisingly advanced engineering skills – appear and dog-nap Cal’s best friend. It’s time to go John Wick on these pests!
Throughout Par For The Dungeon’s multiple worlds your goal is clear; get Cal to the hole and kill all the Bogeys in as few moves as possible. To help you achieve this, Cal has access to an ever-changing arsenal of weapons and gadgets. From arrows to laser wands, grapple hooks to magnet gloves.
Everything you do is controlled with a click-and-drag aim system. Click Cal, drag your finger further away to add power and rotate around in a circle to aim. Let go and Cal will shoot off in the direction of your choosing, bouncing off obstacles in their way. Geometry is often employed to make the most of your shots. Consider your shot angle and the angle of walls, enemies or blocks in your path. I found that power accuracy is mostly unimportant. A full power shot will often leave you where you need to be, barring a few occasions. I would have liked to see more puzzles where a shorter shot is required to get an optimal route.
Power Me Up, Putt-ercup
Consideration should be given to collecting coins and thinking about how your current power-ups can be used to help you complete the hole in fewer shots. A well-timed and placed bomb or bouncing off/grapple hooking a moving enemy at just the right time – these are the things that will make or break a course score.
I was really impressed with how often and consistently new mechanics were introduced. The game offers something new every couple of courses, which keeps gameplay feeling fresh. The puzzle and level design is also top-notch (previously mentioned shot power gripe aside). There’s a good balance between challenge and intuitiveness which helped to stave off frustration as I chased the lower scores. I would like there to be a faster way to reset a course, rather than having to exit the course select screen to do so.
Adding to the challenge is the need to think ahead to the next hole – to collect and conserve coins so you can buy power-ups early enough to benefit your stroke count. Coins carry over within a course, but not between courses. Par For The Dungeon’s gameplay has a casual, fun feel to it, but also has just enough difficulty to be engaging.
Graphics & Audio
Par For The Dungeon features a vibrant, cel-shaded art style. There’s plenty of variety and distinction between the different worlds. You’ll go from oranges to greens, and blues to purples as you progress throughout the game. The UI is clean, understandable and easy to use. Whilst you’re taking a shot the action bar drops out of view. This, combined with minimal information displayed on screen means you can focus on what really matters; getting your shot correct.
The music of each level gives a suitable backing to the action. Each action performed is accompanied by a well-chosen sound effect that provides the game with a punchy, satisfying feel. I always believe that if, for the most part, I don’t notice the sounds and music in this sort of game, it’s doing a great job of being an accompaniment to the gameplay, rather than stealing the show. It’s certainly the former for Par For The Dungeon; a lovely side dish to the main course.
Par For The Dungeon currently contains 108 holes of various difficulty for you to complete. These are held within 36 courses spread across 4 worlds. It took me around 3 and a half hours to get through the levels. Additional time can then be spent going back through and aiming for the best scores. Achieving those scores will unlock more costumes for Cal to wear, of which there are currently 31.
There’s plenty of content here for the price point Sleeping Giants are going for. The 3-hole per course formula works brilliantly for players to drop in and out of. Undoubtedly this design is another pointer towards the developer’s mobile game history and how Par For The Dungeon is also designed for the mobile market.
Sleeping Giant Games has delivered a great little game. If you enjoy fun puzzles that give you a surmountable challenge whilst not being a total pushover, this game may be for you. You can wishlist the game on Steam now, and look forward to it taking part in the Steam Next Fest between the 9th and 16th of October. Par For The Dungeon gets a Thumb Culture Gold Award. May the course be with you.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.