A Short Hike is a game developed by Adamgryu, a game designer based in Toronto Canada. While the game has been available on PC since 2018, it has recently come to the Nintendo Switch. On August 18th, the game was featured in the Nintendo Indie World Showcase, and saw release the very same day.
In A Short Hike you play as Claire, a young bird who is on vacation with her aunt. Their vacation takes place at Hawk Peak Provincial Park, a camp ground located on a towering mountain. Since Claire is having trouble getting good reception, her main objective is to climb to the mountain’s highest point to receive a phone call. The details of the call, and the call’s recipient, are purposely left unknown to the player. However, once they reach the mountain’s peak, players will witness a tenderhearted interaction that is well worth the climb.
A Short Hike has Claire traverse the park via running, jumping, climbing, and gliding. Throughout the journey she can collect golden feathers, which serve as power-ups to enhance her abilities. These feathers grant Claire a boost in stamina, allowing her to jump higher, and climb for longer periods of time. A number of feathers are required in order to reach Hawk Peak, and can be bought in exchange for coins, or found in some of the game’s many treasure chests. During her adventure, Claire also finds items that she can utilize to help her on her journey.
Even though it’s not a graphical powerhouse, A Short Hike features some beautiful visuals. Despite being a little pixelated, the game has a smooth and charming presentation reminiscent of Animal Crossing. While it may be small, the game’s setting contains a lot of scenery, which is vast and varied. You’ll see lush forests, sunny beaches, eerie graveyards, and many more areas that are each accompanied by an excellent musical score composed by Mark Sparling. The park possesses a great sense of scale and depth, that also serves as a visual representation of the player’s progress when gliding from higher points.
At its very center, A Short Hike is about tranquility and forming new relationships. The goal may be to climb to Hawk Peak, but the game wants players to deviate off the beaten path; to explore and interact with others. Conversing with the locals provides humorous conversation, as well as invitation to participate in the many bonus games. There’s volleyball, marathon races, fishing, and other activities for Claire to discover. Even though it’s still short in length, the exploration and minigames add quite a bit to the game’s total playtime.
A Short Hike is a game that gets down to the root of what makes a game an enjoyable experience. The game’s story about Claire and her aunt retreating to the mountain to get away from city life serves as a metaphorical message. Today, some people take gaming way too seriously, focusing solely on graphics and horsepower. Even though the whole package matters, A Short Hike reminds us that above all else a game must be one thing: Fun.
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