After watching the trailer of The Curse of Nordic Cove I jumped to grab the opportunity to grab this interesting piece of indie madness – I just had to see what the mash-up of FPS, Golf, puzzle, vehicle combat and some other stuff amounted to. Big props to the developer for managing to cram so many different game styles into one title, but unfortunately it really is a case of quantity over quality.
After a brief comic strip style introduction to the story (Curses, Vikings, and an inquisitive old man) you’re thrown straight into the free-roam golf/fps part of the game. Your objective here is to complete the 9-hole golf course whilst fighting off ‘wraiths’ and collecting other interesting items (including severed middle fingers and beer cans for health)
Now, I’ve played a fair few simulation golf games in the past and this game clearly doesn’t intend to imitate Tiger wood’s next PGA simulator title, but it does the job – barely. There’s wind simulation and a selection of clubs that shoot the ball different distances, but the physics of the ball are rubbish. The ball has a tendency to just come to a complete stop in mid air, at the peak of its arc and drop to the ground like a brick. Oh, and don’t expect putting to be any better – it suffers from the same poor physics. Luckily all of the holes seem to gobble up the ball however hard you hit it which makes putting quite easy. I enjoyed this golf section quite a bit despite the physics, and it’s nice and easy to control with the usual power/accuracy meter. You even get rated with a nice score sheet at the end of the level, although my game had been ruined by glitches and it said I’d took 25 shots on certain holes when I’d took 3.
Whilst you’re hitting balls, you also have to fight the evil hovering black curtains (wraiths) that are trying their hardest to interrupt your round. And by interrupt, the wraiths completely cripple your character’s ability to pick anything up (including health) once they’ve seen you, making fights quite one sided. What also doesn’t help is the useless old fart following you around – he serves no purpose apart from screaming and throwing sarcastic comments at you. He makes quite a decent human shield though! The golfball gun is your main weapon of choice when fighting the wraiths. There’s also a flamethrower you can pick up later on in the level, and as a last resort you can whack them with your golf clubs – which seem to break pretty easily. To put it bluntly, the FPS part of this first level was really frustrating. Having 10 bullets for your only ‘shootable’ weapon is limiting and finding extra ammo for it is hard, leaving you with golf clubs which often seem to break in one hit. Oh and good luck killing the ‘boss’ at the end of each hole without your golfball gun… At least the golf is fairly fun.
After the golf course has been conquered, you’re treated to another cutscene and level 2 starts – the puzzle section. Unfortunately, this is where the game starts to go downhill. This time you’re in control of the aforementioned ‘useless old man’ and are tasked with moving a series of golf buggies and smashing boxes in order to find your way out of the garage. Think of it as a rather easy take on the puzzle game rush hour, or one of those mobile apps where you have to clear a path to make an exit for a block. The controls are pretty confusing at first, you can grab and pull buggies and smash boxes with a shovel. It works okay once you’re used to it, but the speed at which old man moves makes the level far more tedious than it should be. I also couldn’t stop wondering why old man couldn’t just climb though the golf buggies and over the boxes. After you’ve escaped the garage you end up in some sort of underground temple. In here is a really simple puzzle. Match the symbols to what’s on the pedestal. If you get the wrong symbol, a piece of walkway disappears. Once again, this level is made so frustrating by the speed at which old man walks – it almost feels like it’s deliberately dragged out to fill some time.
The next piece of gameplay fun you’re presented with is vehicle combat. I thought this was going to be the best part of the game, but it was pretty disappointing to play. You control Mabel, a lawn mower with gun and flamethrower attachments to kill any wraiths that block your path. You have to drive Mabel out of the golf course, but unfortunately Mabel’s odd shape has a tendency to get stuck on parts of the level. I also discovered a ton of other glitches in this level, including the gun getting stuck and firing through Mabel. Also, complete spontaneous death and flying through the air weren’t uncommon. The idea is great, and when it’s working properly the level is quite fun. I would say the wraiths are pretty difficult to defeat though.
I won’t spoil the complete content of the next levels, but they include a duck-hunt style level, a level clearly inspired by doom and an odd stealth level. I have mixed feelings about The Curse of Nordic cove. Sometimes I laughed at the schoolboy humor, sometimes I got angry at my inability to kill something with a golf club, sometimes I cried at the plague of glitches on Mabel’s level and the speed at which old man moved, sometimes I was so bored I resorted to watching the latest episode of Watchdog whilst mindlessly clicking the mouse on the duck-hunt level. However, there was always a certain sense of satisfaction when that last ball went in the hole or I completed a level – this game works you damn hard to get there. As the devs state – ‘Written by gamers, for gamers’ but your average call of duty fan won’t enjoy it at all. This game is aimed at quirky and patient gamers. The kind that will spend £10 to beat the highscore on the beat-up pacman game in the corner of the pub and love every second of it. If you’re quick – this game is currently on offer for £3.25. I wouldn’t say no to picking it up for that price, there’s a lot of content here for the money. Grab it before it’s £12.99 again!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.