Super Inefficient Golf is an unorthodox physics-sandbox/golfing-sim combination that nudges you towards the road less traveled. Physics sandbox games are typically about creative expression whereas golfing simulations focus on strategy and execution. By combining the two and creating something that has no real world analog, 34BigThings has given us new material to explore in video game golf; much the same way Rocket League reframed the digital adaptation of soccer.
In SIG, you’re tasked with using remote mines to get your ball to the flag. You start in a staging mode where you can place mines of four different colors anywhere onto your golf ball. These four colors map to the face buttons on your Xbox gamepad (e.g. red for B button). With a nearly unlimited supply of mines, your ability to get to the hole is only limited by your creativity.
Once you’re done placing mines, you can hit RT to move on to the execution phase of the game. At this point you can set off the charges in any order you like and you can slo-mo with LT for more granular timing. One of my favorite setups went like this: start by pressing A to fire the green mines placed at the bottom of the ball to launch it straight up, press X mid-flight to fire the blue mines towards the back of the ball to send it soaring over a wall ahead of you, trigger slo-mo as it passes the hole below you to press B at the exact right moment to fire the red mine just as it rotates to a position that will reel it back towards the grass. Of course, this rarely goes as expected – especially on the first try. You’re unlikely to place a mine perfectly at the bottom of a ball resulting in a skewed trajectory. But that’s part of the fun - are you able to combine inventiveness and execution to mitigate chaos.
SIG does a great job of revving the player’s imaginative engines. The clearest example of this is a hole early in the back nine where the level is designed for you to roll the ball through a tunnel below some graduated steps. This will allow you to get in front of those steps and slowly climb them. But that’s boring! Moreover, the camera is oriented to face the flag by default – not the “standard” path. This can be frustrating if you’re trying to follow that path but it’s meant to encourage you to find a shortcut. I think that’s the entire crux of this game: make your own fun. There’s a chance that the blandness of the normal route might be a detriment to some players but the game does such a good of a job of pushing you towards ingenuity that I doubt it is an issue.
Of course, SIG is not without its flaws. I had some wonky experiences as I’ve come to expect from physics games. There was an instance where the ball launched straight up while rolling down a normal surface, presumably colliding against an invisible stitch between meshes. Another where it suddenly spun furiously in place. But the most glaring flaw was that it left me wanting for much more content. 18 holes is plenty for the low asking price of 5 USD but it felt like a teaser. This game is ripe for Steam Workshop and local and online multiplayer. With that combination, I could see something of this nature being an evergreen multiplayer game I came back to regularly as opposed to being done in a couple hours. Unfortunately there have been no announcements about forthcoming content but a man can dream.
Despite the brevity, Super Inefficient Golf was well worth the time. It combined two genres in a fresh take on digital golfing and encourages the players to make their own fun. Even the leaderboards reward creativity with bonuses for unused mines and hangtime along with the expected par-based bonuses. While I hope 34BigThings explores this formula in the future, I’ll be happy to plug away at leaderboard spots and just play with mines in the meantime.
Score: 4 out 5 (Recommended)
Super Inefficient Golf was created by 34BigThings (makers of Redout). It is available on Steam for $4.99.