There’s something comforting about A Short Hike. It’s very chill, the music is relaxing and it’s a happy world. It’s the video game equivalent of going camping or having a few days out in nature and you’ll more than likely come away from this game with a smile on your face.
In A Short Hike, you play as Claire, a bird-like person who’s on holiday with her family on an idyllic island. It has beaches, forests and snowy peaks. We start out in the car, as you do with family holidays, and you’re on your way to the holiday destination. Claire wakes up and doesn’t have phone reception, and she heads up to Hawk Peak to try and get some reception.
Along the way, you’ll meet a bunch of people who will either give you little quests or power-ups (like finding a runner’s red headband in exchange for running shoes). There’s plenty of items to collect like a shovel to dig around in the sand, chests with coins, hunting seashells. It’s all very pleasant, which is accompanied by some really nice music. The dialogue between the characters is also really nice, there’s a faint murmur of voices rather than voice acting but it all adds up to a very wholesome experience.
You can hike, climb, and soar through the peaceful mountainside landscapes of hawk peak provincial park. Follow the marked trails or explore the backcountry as you make your way to the summit. Along the way, meet other hikers, discover hidden treasures, and take in the world around you. This is kind of a mini-open world where you can explore the island any way you like (as long as you can get there). You are not rushed so you can meander around and see what you can find. There are some nice little mini-games which include fishing, so if you want to just hang out by the river banks and chill with the other fishermen, then that’s totally fine. Enjoy yourself out in the country and relax.
Central to the hike and your preparation are Golden Feathers. You learn that early on in the game you’re going to need golden feathers to climb, as you come across a climbing club on the beach. However, to join up you’re going to need a golden feather which you can find at the visitor centre. The golden feathers act as a stamina meter and allow you to climb and flap your wings. When you start out Claire can glide, but to progress, you’re going to need golden feathers. Collecting these either give you a few more seconds of climbing or another flap of the wings. The more golden feathers you have the easier the hike to the top will be.
There’s plenty to be found around the island and money is going to come in really handy. You can find chests and coins dotted around the area and you’ll want to pocket these to exchange for items like more golden feathers and other useful items. There was one story that caught my attention where someone had lost their watch and he was worried someone would find it and sell it on the internet, he seemed really sceptical of the internet.
The game looks down from an isometric kind of angle and the camera rotates and follows you, sometimes zooming out to allow you to breathe in the impressive scenery. There’s a pixel art feel in a 3d world which is very nice, the colours and bright and vibrant. The music is very soothing and uplifting. The whole package is really nice.
A Short Hike began as a personal art project in December 2018. Game developer Adam Robinson-Yu was feeling worn out from working on his RPG project and took a break to design some natural landscapes. Inspired by summer hiking trips and exploring forests in his youth, he wanted to create something that could evoke those same feelings of peace and discovery. The project soon blossomed into a full-fledged title. Mark Sparling joined the project to compose music for the game. A Short Hike hopes to provide players with a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of life in its scenic mountainsides.
The overarching feeling of A Short Hike is a great one. It’s like a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate on a winters evening, that gives you a hug of positivity and an upbeat feeling. I had heard this was a good game, but I was really impressed when I got round to playing it. I’d sat on it for too long and I recommend this to you to check it out right now, you won’t be sorry you did.
Developer: Adam Robinson-Yu
Release date: April 5th 2019 (Humble), July 30th 2019 (Steam, Itch)