Finishing October with A Short, Pleasant Hike

A Short Hike is an exploration / platforming game developed by Adam Robinson-Yu. It released on July 30th, 2019. It’s available for the PC on both Steam and Itch.io for $8.

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Something about autumn just gets me in the mood for walking simulators…

Happy Halloween, everyone! I was hoping Luigi’s Mansion 3 would be out in time for me to review it, but Nintendo had other plans. Instead I’m going to show you a peaceful and atmospheric fall game called A Short Hike. You play as Claire, a bird on vacation to a remote island. She leaves her cabin to hike to the top of said island, where she can get a phone signal and make an important call. Though the story premise is really that simple, you can go off the beaten path to meet the island’s inhabitants and become involved in their small stories as well, from a runner preparing for a marathon to a painter trying to find inspiration. The story has the charm of an Animal Crossing game and the writing of A Night in the Woods, albiet less cynical.

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As you journey around the island, you open up new abilities in your moveset, including gliding, climbing, and running. Exploring the island will reward you with collectibles, tools, and an increased stamina bar in the form of Golden Feathers. The gameplay lands somewhere in-between a 3D platformer and a Zelda game, with the island as your sandbox.

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For a one-man project, I was pleasantly surprised to notice tight platforming controls and an interesting world design. And the final summit at the top of the island was a good challenge to test the skills that I had played around with (but only if you don’t buy like 10 golden feathers with the treasure you find around the island). The game set me loose to discover all sorts of cool places, from a small volcano with an updraft to a castle tower among the trees. I even found a few secret shortcuts and riddles for treasure chests.

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The calming soundtrack and charming art style also contributed well to the immersion. The bright fall colors were exactly what I wanted to stroll through / fly over as a virtual bird. However, the pixelated look of the game might turn a few people off. I didn’t mind the resolution, but then again, I’m a guy who still plays on a 3DS in 2019. Take that as you will.

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Even with me taking my time, I finished the game in about 2 hours. A Short Hike is indeed a short game. However, if you enjoy Mario, Zelda, and Animal Crossing, this is an easy recommendation. Adam Robinson-Yu, you are a fantastic indie game developer and I can’t wait to see what your next project will be.

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