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Review: Par for the Dungeon is a cute but flawed golf hybrid

Developer: Sleeping Giant Interactive
Price: Free
Size: 313 MB
Version: 1.0.11
Platform: iPhone & iPad

Par for the Dungeon

Par for the Dungeon should be all kinds of ‘our kind of game’. It’s a cute, colorful mini-golf game with action-RPG trappings.

However, an obnoxiously restrictive monetization system keeps it from greatness.

Rescue your cute dog

The game mechanics are delightfully simple and intuitive. You play an anthropomorphic golf ball, whose dog is kidnapped by a gang of mech-driving miscreants at the outset. It’s a weird premise, but Par for the Dungeon’s cuddly aesthetic makes it stick.

Running through each stage is achieved in time-honored iOS mini-golf fashion. Pull back to set power, move laterally to aim, and release to ping your ball forward.

Tap and drag to hit your ball into enemies

The idea is to collide with enemies, collect coins, and land in the exit hole in as few moves as possible. Achieve enough below-par scores, and you might even earn yourself a cool new outfit.

Along the way there are special power-ups to acquire and employ, including a bow and arrow, a bomb, and a grappling hook. These can take out enemies or enable you to shortcut the increasingly elaborate courses.

Use power-ups to clear new paths

Par for the Dungeon has all the makings of a great mobile game. And then it goes and spoils it all.

We get that free-to-play is the not-so-new normal at this point. We’ll even venture that it’s the preferable approach in certain cases.

Unlock colorful outfits

But with a game like Par for the Dungeon, with an old school mentality that encourages multiple retries to nail the perfect score on a level, forcing you to pay for those retries – or else watch an irritatingly lengthy advert to do so – hugely affects the game’s rhythm. Worse still, it completely puts you off trying to perfect a level.

Even if this was the default set-up, the developer should really have provided a ‘purchase up front’ option. There’s no such thing, and our interest in the game all but fell off a cliff way earlier than it should have as a result.

Collect coins to purchase power-ups

Par for the Dungeon is a great casual mobile game stuck in a cynical payment system. It’s a classic iOS game from the early days of the App Store, wearing an all-too-modern straight jacket.

By all means, download Par for the Dungeon and give it a whirl – it’ll cost you nothing, and you’ll probably have a fair amount of fun with it. But for an ill-conceived free-to-play model, it could have been something truly special.