Turbo Golf Racing is the newest game from developer Hugecalf Studios (When Ski Lifts Go Wrong & Carried Away: Winter Sports) and published by Secret Mode (Wunder Dokter, Dear Esther, and more). I was provided an early access preview code by Secret Mode to check the game out. The online modes appeared to be active, but during my playtimes I was never able to connect with other media folks that also had early access. A couple of time slots to play with the development team were set-up, but I had schedule conflicts and couldn’t attend. So this early access preview will be based on my impressions of the game based on solo time trial play and the layout of UI, the cars, equipment, skins, and expected progression.
I usually don’t like to compare games when I’m writing a review; I prefer to review the game on its own merits or failings. It would be nigh impossible to discuss Turbo Golf Racing, however, without mentioning Rocket League. In case you don’t know, Rocket League is a soccer-type game played with rocket-powered cars that can fly and flip through the air. Turbo Golf Racing is a golf-type game played with rocket-powered cars that can kind of fly and flip through the air. However, this isn’t your grandpa’s boring, old, everybody-hush-and-take-turns golf game. It actually plays a lot like Super Mario Golf’s Super Rush mode where you hit the ball and then go sprinting across the course to get to your ball and hit it again. But the difference in Turbo Golf Racing is that you’re in a car and you drive after your ball.
The controls are very familiar to anyone that’s played Rocket League before, and from my experience they feel tight, and your car is responsive. The familiar energy system is still in play to power your boost, and there are energy capsules strewn across the course to refill your meter. A nice quality of life addition is a preview arrow that shows up on your ball to show the general direction and arc that your ball will take. As you can probably guess, the main objective is to hit the ball into the hole at the end of the course and to do it faster than other players. So far, multiplayer is only time based, and there are no modes that are based on your number of strokes or hits.
The solo time trial mode is effectively the same game, but the main goal is to simply sink the ball as fast as possible. You earn 1-3 stars based on your time, and the stars will unlock cosmetics and cores for your car. The core system is where Turbo Golf Racing differentiates itself from Rocket League. Your car can have two cores equipped, and there’s a mix of active and passive ones that can affect your shots and your effectiveness on the course. The first core I unlocked created a shockwave so I could hit the ball with more force. It will be interesting to see how much these cores can affect the competitive games. It is rare to see unlocks in this type of game that have an impact on the gameplay and aren’t purely cosmetic, so it will be interesting to see if there are certain core combinations that are more widely used or over-powered.
All the standard micro-transaction elements are present as expected. There’s a season pass that has free and premium tiers. The rewards are all fairly typical and, again, will be very familiar to anyone that has played Rocket League. The rewards primarily consist of wheels, boosts, ball skins, and skins for your front shield. I looked through the season pass rewards and didn’t see any cores or items that would affect gameplay, so at least it doesn’t appear that there will be any pay-to-win type mechanics in the progression.
It will be interesting to see if Turbo Golf Racing can maintain interest and be a successful game as a service title. My initial gut feeling is that the content is a little light to be sustainable for a long time. Each hole is pretty short and typically can be completed in under a minute. I expect that it won’t take too long to figure out the fastest and easiest way to complete the holes, so competitive multiplayer will likely end up being a contest to see who can perform the algorithm the closest to perfect. From what I’ve seen there are no car bumping physics either, so you’ll just be playing against ghost cars, and you can’t knock another car off its route unless you use rockets. With the game’s competition being purely time based as well, I do worry that there will be abuse of exploits or other ways to game the system. I expect Turbo Golf Racing will be quite fun initially, and I’m excitedly looking forward to it’s release on August 4th to try out the multiplayer online modes.