The handcrafted sound of a Martian radio.
There are games with such a marked identity, so "personal", that it's practically impossible not to evaluate them as a handicraft product. Demagog Studio's Golf Club: Wasteland has the strength of a disaster movie and the delicacy of a music box. Make yourself a favor and play this game.
The whole history of men
The opening of Golf Club: Wasteland is very simple: we're a rich colonist from Mars, who came back to Earth just for playing some golf. While we throw the ball, we find ourselves in devastated landscapes, broken skyscrapers, perennial fog, uncontested nature. The absence of something that we take for granted is already a narrative factor itself, the magic of the story by subtraction: showing a world without its inhabitants immediately raises a question to the viewer, who will be receptive in discovering any causes of that absence. However, "absence" is not enough to build a world: as developers and artists we can leave clues of an earlier civilization, of a conflict, whatever we want. In addition to minimal-but-informative art design, the developers of Golf Club: Wasteland let us listen to a radio that tells us what our home was like.
Radio Nostalgia from Mars
For those who do not know what a radio drama is, it's a specific form of theater. In Italy, radio dramas reached their peak in the 1970s (RAI itself, our national TV/radio company, broadcasted radio plays of famous actors): these are real shows and performances that, by means of words, sounds, noises and music, immerse the audience in a dramatic experience completely entrusted to sound. As a golf game, Golf Club: Wasteland has no secrets. It has no particularly revolutionary mechanics and you could end up completing all the courses pretty fast. But you don't, thanks to Radio Nostalgia from Mars. Listening to this radio drama is really worth the ticket price, maybe the ticket itself.
Testimonies from a distant world
The Martian radio that we hear in our solitary apocalyptic golf sessions depict a precise world, made of DJs who invite not to waste body fluids in their sector of the Martian colony, stories of people who cannot get used to the "day/SOL jet lag" and are in perennial insomnia, childhood songs of those who welcome the first Martian infants, songs of those who remember their territory, its scents, its noises. Radio Nostalgia from Mars is the cry of humanity against its absence/silence on Earth, effectively bringing the action, or the drama, from the gameplay to the background of the gameplay. You will immediately have the feeling that everything in Golf Club: Wasteland already happened, everything important, hearing only testimonies, a fourth dimension completely neglected by time while you are stupidly playing golf. This will have the great power to isolate us from the game itself, indeed risking to make us just stop playing in order to listen more carefully. So, how is it possible? How can a videogame that makes me stop... work? And above all, how is it possible that a game like this can be enjoyed? What's the meaning of playing golf in a ruined world? What's the meaning of taking a break from humanity to play golf?
Recently, I was reading one of the first issues of the Revista Manual, a beautiful project of in-depth studies and articles in the Spanish gaming landscape. In an interview with Josef Fares (A Way Out, It Takes Two), he spoke of The Last of Us as a one of his favorite games. The risk of Naughty Dog's political choice was in implementing a certain type of maturity, creating its own dramatic tone. It is not the first game that deals with pandemics, homosexual love, violence and extreme revenge, but the way the game insists on not following a classic plot but really looking for a responsible tone of its own aesthetics, is unparalleled in the sector of AAA games. Fares concludes: "There are movies for adults and movies for children. Videogames will also experience something similar, taking more risks to tell a story in many different ways." I think Golf Club: Wasteland comes very close to that concept, to that sense of responsibility, exposing itself, almost politically. "No, I don't want to play your dumb golf, you game, I just want to come back home as it was!"
Golf Club: Wasteland managed to move me. I finished it in one night, in bed at my mom's house, and my younger sister came over. Without telling me anything she stopped and listened to the stories of the Martians. When I looked at her, she was almost crying, just like me.