Getting lost in the wilderness can be a frightful thought, but the tranquility that it offers in Adamgryu’s imagining is anything but. The appropriately named “A Short Hike” is the most blissful nature walk that never outstays its welcome. It is sure to have you grinning ear-to-ear with every side trail you stumble upon. While short (the game can be completed in one swift sitting), this bite-sized experience is easy to digest and left a lasting impression on me. If it is not perfect, it is very close to it. Join me on this short review of A Short Hike.
The feature most apparent as you load up the game for the first time is the visuals. Pixels are jagged, giving it an appearance of something you might see in the mid 90’s. I thought that it added charm, and it was clear that a creative choice was made here. Perhaps not everybody will feel the same, but fear not, because it is possible to adjust the visuals in the settings menu. After my eyes could not take much more of the large and chunky pixels, I switched it over to the sharpest image quality, and I was astonished by what a difference this made in my overall enjoyment. The game looks stunning with the more refined graphics, and I find it hard to believe that this was developed by just one person.
As you start your journey on this small island, you are treated with a cutscene of sorts. It appears that there is someone driving you, Claire, to a summer camping trip, and then you are thrown into the game with little else to go on. As you take your first steps out of the cabin, you discover that your phone has no reception at the base of the island. You are then tasked with scaling the steep mountainside to make a phone call. Along the way, you will meet some colorful characters and have some amusing conversations, none of which are mandatory. This is one of those experiential titles, where you can play it however you would like. If you want to cut all the side missions and just ascend to the top in one quick swoop, you can. I do not recommend playing it that way though. The richness of the extra content you will stumble upon along the way can only be fully appreciated if you stop and smell the roses. Take this game at your own pace and be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.
The music in this game is so relaxing. Actually, everything about A Short Hike is relaxing, but the music stands out in this department. I will link you to one song out of the soundtrack that gives me happy, care-free vibes. You can listen to it here on YouTube. The acoustic strings, the light bongos, and the piano melodies make this one of my all-time favorite soundtracks of any game. It is music that makes you feel, and this game really does evoke some strong emotions.
While creative liberties shaped this game into an emotional ride, the gameplay holds up as well. The most appealing mechanic in the game would have to be the flying, or more appropriately, gliding. By holding the A button, you can float ever so gently, slowly losing altitude for every second that passes in the air. It is really satisfying to jump off a ledge and float to another ledge off in the distance. By pressing A as you glide, you can use a golden feather to flap your wings and fly, elongating your hang-time. You can also climb which will be crucial in making it to the peak of the mountain. While flying is by far the more appealing option, climbing will burn through golden feathers a lot slower than the simple flap of your wings, making it the more practical method.
It is hard to judge the replay value A Short Hike has. It will differ from person to person. I am inclined to play it again, maybe in a year or two, so the experience is not fresh in my mind. It is one of those games that almost makes me wish I could play it again for the first time. The game is incredibly short, spanning only a couple hours maximum. In those two hours, I felt this was an adventure well worth the price of entry, but you may not share this sentiment. For those who are looking for a lot of bang for your buck, you may want to look elsewhere. If you are looking for something short and fun to get emotionally invested in, this is that game. I believe this game is a masterpiece, but I am also aware that it may not jive with everyone. If you thought everything outlined in this review is something you would enjoy, then I would highly recommend you jump on this one. I certainly did not regret it, and I am hopeful that neither will you.
Replay Value: 3/5
Total: 22/25 or 88/100