subpar pool review for PC, Nintendo Switch

Platform: PC
Also on: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Grapefrukt Games
Developer: Grapefrukt Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Way back in 2019, I had the pleasure of reviewing holedown, a near-perfect puzzle game that was as simple as it was addictive. Now, that same developer – grapefrukt games – has returned with subpar pool, and, once again, they’ve demonstrated that they’re pretty good at the whole simple/addictive thing. Between those two games, twofold inc. (a mobile game that I’ve never played, but that looks amazing), and rymdkapsel (which I have played, and which was the one good thing that came out of Sony’s long-forgotten PlayStation Mobile initiative back on the Vita), I’m thinking that Grapefrukt are kind of masters are these minimalistic games that you just can’t put down.

Mind you, subpar pool (lower-case titles are grapefrukt’s thing, if you hadn’t noticed) is a little more complex than those other games – at least, more complex relatively speaking. It’s a roguelike golf-pool hybrid where you have to sink all the balls on a table/the green within a certain number of shots, and you have a certain number of lives in which to complete a series of procedurally generated tables/holes.

On top of that, the game throws in a number of modifiers in the form of cards, which you can use to alter the gameplay in some way. You can choose a chunky ball that’s double the size of regular balls, or a hunter that seeks out other balls, or a Fast Run modifier that forces you to speed through tables – along with more than a dozen other modifiers, each adding their own unique spin on the game.

On the one hand, it sounds like a lot to take in, especially considering how much easier grapefrukt’s other games have been to explain. And yet, because subpar pool is built around games as familiar as golf and pool, it’s still easy enough to figure everything out along the way. Consequently, the game is just as easy to get sucked into as the developer’s other games – while at the same time being incredibly frustrating (albeit in a good way), since it’s so easy for one bad shot to ruin your run. It always makes you want to go back and start over, which is kind of the definition of simple and addictive.

Oh, and the music and graphics are outstanding. They give subpar pool a cozy atmosphere that makes you want to sink into the game and lose yourself for a little while.

And, believe me, you’ll want to lose yourself for a while in subpar pool. Like grapefrukt games’ previous outings, it’s made for both quick gaming sessions and lengthy hours spent trying to get just a little bit better, and regardless of which way you approach it, you’re going to have fun.

Grapefrukt Games provided us with a Subpar Pool PC code for review purposes.

Score: 8