Last year an infuriating little game called Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy released on the Humble Trove and eventually Steam. The game involved climbing a “mountain” with a hammer from inside a cauldron. There were no checkpoints and progress was constantly saved, even the massive and inevitable setbacks. And overlaying all of it was Bennett Foddy’s calm commentary about the nature of starting over and the development of the game itself. It was hell and it was interesting.
This year an infuriating little game called Golfing Over It With Alva Majo released on Steam. The game involved climbing a “mountain” by hitting a golf ball up it and…
At first I thought I was having a strange deja vu but as Alva explains in the narration of the game, this is a homage to Getting Over It which explores many of the same themes while changing up the core gameplay. Which has its ups and its downs, so, so many downs.
Its golf. There isn’t much that can be said about golf mechanics that hasn’t already been said. You drag your mouse or analogue stick which presents a relevant feedback icon by the ball which you then hit. While it’s in the air, you can hit it again which is a neat little addition that would make the [put the name of that big golf tournament here] more interesting. But here is where Golfing Over It loses me.
Once your ball hits something, it turns black and you lose all control until it comes to a full stop. Often forcing you to watch it roll pathetically down a small incline and bouncing back to the bottom. For me, this felt like bad design as it left me in an impotent rage with all the blame sitting squarely on the game. As soon as control was taken from me, I was no longer able to “trade my frustration for disappointment” because while logically it was my fault, it didn’t feel like it. In Getting Over It the player is always in control. When you’re falling, it feels like it’s your fault for screwing up the move, it’s your fault for not grabbing onto something, it’s always your fault which feels fair and hammers home the point much harder.
Apart from that one critical issue, the controls are actually pretty tight and people are already posting their three minute speedruns, completing the game in the amount of time it takes Alva to get through his first two monologues. Which contradicts his point about the challenges being “more about luck and perseverance than skill” but whether or not this was a red herring, meant to alleviate some of the frustration remains to be seen.
Besides the gameplay, the narration is the other identifying feature of this now microgenre. Unfortunately, Alva does not have quite the same charisma and ultimately seeks to make the same point which unfortunately makes the narration sections feel boring and at times non-committal. A combination that unjustly presents the idea that this is a cash grab rather than a homage.
The “mountain” design is much shorter with more of a focus on animals and abstract imagery but due to the vertical nature of it, it’s much easier to fall back to the start from any point. This seems to be inspired by the gut-wrenching, Youtuber freakouting snake section from Getting Over It but what the designer has forgotten is that Getting Over It rarely took you back to the very start.
All in all Golfing Over It With Alva Majo is a tight game that induces the same – if not more – frustration as Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy but ultimately doesn’t live up to the same standards. Worth the price of admission if you’re looking for something to frustrate you for a few hours.
The biggest downside to Golfing Over It is that by its existence, the gate may have just been opened and this microgenre may get stuffed with copycats and cash grabs as the recycled asset nature of the games lends it well to the asset flippers of Steam infamy. Though hopefully that’s just my inner Chicken Little…
Golfing Over It With Alva Majo is available on Steam and can be found HERE