Walkabout Mini Golf Review

Walkabout Mini Golf is a local multiplayer mini golf game for the Oculus Quest. It includes 18 courses, across 6 difficulty settings (5 holes per course). Before getting into the review, it would be helpful to set up some expectations. When I tried out the game at GDC 2019, my opinion was that it didn’t hold up to games like World of Warcraft or even Resident Evil 7 in terms of quality; however, I did think that gameplay made up for these shortcomings (I had come off playing Overcooked 2 before playing Walkabout Mini Golf). Upon purchasing and actually trying out this game on my own headset, I believe that gameplay does not make up for how low-quality everything else is in Walkabout Mini Golf.

The game has 18 courses, but these are not unique or different in any real sense. They are identical to each other with the only difference being their difficulty setting (5 holes per course). For example, the first minigolf course is just a flat green field that you can play on. The second one is the same thing, except it has an out of bounds road around the outside. The third one adds another hole right beside the first two – which you could call “holes 1 and 2” or “holes 3 and 4”, either way, the level design really doesn’t go much further than this for each subsequent course.

The game’s graphics are definitely low-quality. I do not have much experience playing other Oculus Quest games, but everything besides the ball (which I will get to in a bit) seems like it would be similar or worse than something made for Wii. There are no textures, everything is very boxy, and the game has its own lighting engine that looks pretty bad; however, this does not make much of an impact when playing due to how zoomed-in you are compared to other games on the Quest. The graphics may look out of place but they do not stick out too much because it does not have that big of an impact on gameplay itself.

The main menu UI is also very low quality – this being the only part of the game’s presentation I can imagine wanting to keep at all after purchasing this game. It makes up for having a very small font that cannot be read by looking at it, with pastel colors that are difficult to distinguish from the actual menu background. This makes for a very embarrassing first impression – but thankfully these menus do not have an impact on gameplay so I won’t go into much more detail about how bad this looks or feels.

Also important to note is that there are no power obstacles in Walkabout Mini Golf. Power obstacles are items you can hit which will increase your power rating, meaning you can hit the ball farther and faster than normal if you aim carefully enough. Without these elements, hitting the ball accurately becomes significantly harder whenever you encounter another player’s ball or other obstacles, adding some challenge back into what would otherwise become boring too quickly. While gameplay definitely helps make up for the lack of power obstacles, it does not make up for everything – gameplay simply has a bigger impact on how much one can enjoy playing compared to if they were just looking at the graphics.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you cannot change your height when standing still in Walkabout Mini Golf. When I was demoing this game at GDC, I initially thought my controller was broken because when standing still in-game it would always assume a height of 2 feet tall regardless if the Quest had been calibrated with me two feet tall or 6ft tall from its center point. This makes fixing mistakes very difficult since the only time you can move your height is while actually moving – which means that whenever hitting into an obstacle or another player’s ball, you can only make micro-adjustments to your position. It is worth mentioning that this does not have a huge impact on gameplay compared to how low-quality everything else in the game plays, but it is certainly worth pointing out since it’s an issue with both playability and presentation.

That being said, one must also mention the biggest problem of them all – how god awful the ball looks compared to everything else in most situations. Even when playing during work hours where I don’t usually have access to my VR headset because everyone’s sleeping, I still felt self-conscious playing this game outside of my room simply due to how bad the ball looks. As far as I can tell there are no textures applied whatsoever – meaning that each ball is a single color with no detail whatsoever and at most with one or two shades of that color (not counting the usually-camo part of the ball). The fact that you’re meant to judge where your shot will go based on something as simple as this makes it extremely difficult if not almost impossible to make good shots – especially considering how accurate you need to be as there are no power obstacles.

Despite all of these downsides, though, the game has some redeeming factors which make up for its problems: for one thing, it’s just really fun overall. There’s nothing incredibly unique about it but it’s just an enjoyable pass time. You can play by yourself and attempt courses over and over again without practicing them beforehand and accomplish completing them just by using the map, or you can join an online community and attempt to complete courses together – something which I believe has not been done before on either of the VR headsets out there today.

I also think that even despite these shortcomings, Walkabout Mini Golf is still worth buying if only because it’s currently the cheapest game on the Oculus Quest ($7) when compared to other games in its tier such as Virtual Virtual Reality ($20), Superhot VR ($25), Beat Saber ($30), The Exorcist: Legion VR ($15-$30 depending on how many episodes you buy), and Dark Eclipse ($30). In terms of presentation alone it doesn’t come close to any of these games but being a much better value in terms of cost/content, I cannot help but recommend it over the others. Furthermore, if the developers were to fix up some of its shortcomings such as making a more detailed ball and adding power obstacles into courses then this could be a very high-quality game that everyone should have on their Quest.

In short Walkabout Mini Golf isn’t terrible looking and is actually a lot of fun but its low-quality graphics mean that you will need a certain taste in VR games to enjoy it – something which not everybody has since there’s no way to know how much you’ll enjoy it until you play it first-hand. With good gameplay and multiplayer though, along with being incredibly cheap for an Oculus Quest title at $7, makes this an easy recommendation for the right audience.

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