Zen Studios is back, gracing a host of platforms with a video game that isn’t related to pinball. Still, it’s close — the developer sticks to what it knows, perhaps unsurprisingly, in the form of Infinite Minigolf.
A pick-up-and-play title, there’s not much to Infinite Minigolf. Customise an avatar, jump onto a course – themed either in a Home, Halloween or Christmas motif – and get putting. Various power-ups will impact gameplay, including a jump, a weight, flight, a speed boost and more. Zen’s own designs are bolstered by a course creator, letting creative types make their own tortuous designs (provided each hole can be proven as beatable, of course).
The result is a neat little budget-priced title — $22.95 AUD, in fact – that’s definitely worth a swing.
Golfing itself is simple. You can hit a button before a shot to get the lay of the land, charting how to best move around giant animals, fruit and other deviously-placed obstacles. You aim your shot with the left-stick, and pull back the right-stick to power your shot. Flicking the right-stick up will send the ball flying, up ramps, into the waiting arms of drones or through loop-de-loops. While Zen’s course designs start out pretty innocently on casual difficulty, you’ll be pulling out your hair (in a good way) as you progress into other themed areas and harder tiers.
Power-ups are triggered with a single button press – provided you aim your ball and pick them up on the course – and are a delight to use. A jump is useful to bypass obstacles, while a precision aim power-up is useful in picking up other power-ups and on-course points used to bolster your final score. Really, the only power-up that I avoided was flight; while it’s fun to send sailing into the air, you don’t really have a choice as to where it ends up. The most useful power-up is surely the magnet, used to send your ball straight into the cup provided it’s within range. It’s unbeatable.
The only real problem with Infinite Minigolf’s core mechanics is that it’s difficult to make a precision shot near the cup itself. Any slight pullback on the right-stick gave me 50% power straight away, regardless of how delicate I tried to be with my Xbox One Elite controller’s right-stick. Beside the cup, a shot like that would send my ball at the hole, bounce it off, and then fly about halfway back down the course. Again, that magnet power-up was useful to correct such instances.
While core mechanics are fairly tight, there are bits of Infinite Minigolf that are lacking. Characters themselves come off as bland and uninspiring; while there is the opportunity to customise in terms of appearance and clothing items, options are scarce. More concerning are the vocalisations of the characters themselves – I went three hours before I heard a word out of my player, almost jumping out of my seat when I heard him finally moan, begrudgingly, at a poor shot. Most of the time, my li’l golfer was nothing more than a hollow shell.
Still, if you want to earn in-game currency for customisation, you can achieve optional challenges that are tied to your character. They range from levelling up to making a specific type of shot or using a specific power-up. Like similar systems on mobile titles, they provide further incentive to play or try new techniques.
The course editor will be fun for the right type of person, though I struggled to make anything of value using my controller. With click-and-drag precision on PC, I’m sure others will fare far better.
In the end, Infinite Minigolf is a simple, engaging little title that will keep you entertained for hours on end. While it mightn’t provide the endless experience its title claims to provide, its price point should be enough to forgive it. Optional virtual reality (VR) on PS4 with PlayStation VR and PC with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive doesn’t hurt either, though we weren’t able to test these options on Xbox One.
Infinite Minigolf was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.