Hiking has been the dream of many, but not everyone has the opportunity to partake in the activity when they like. A Short Hike seeks to change that, at least virtually. The game is a short but charming adventure in a perfect destination for a hike.
Playing as a cute tiny penguin, you take a trip with your partner to hike up a mountain. Hiking up this mountain won’t be a simple process though. You’ll need to explore the region and search for items to help you achieve your goal. The game allows you to play at your own pace with various areas to explore, so there’s no need to rush and immediately reach the summit.
There’s a lot to explore and a lot of discoveries to be made. The game will have you traversing through a large map where you can walk, run, jump, climb, fly, and glide; all of which may not be fully usable from the beginning. Traveling through the lands is incredibly calming, and there are various options that amplify this effect with side activities to partake in.
There is no map of the region to pull out and view whenever you like, but there is no need for one. The uncharted land makes the hiking experience even better, complimenting both the size of the region and the length of the game. There are destination signs you will see along the way to help prevent you from losing your bearings, but it’s exhilarating when arriving at new areas you haven’t seen before.
Treasure chests are spread out throughout the map and it’s up to you to find them. Coins can sometimes be laying on the ground, along with other collectible items. Exploring the region to collect these items adds a nice touch to the game and makes searching every inch of each area all the more worthwhile. These collectibles do serve a purpose and aren’t solely for bragging rights.
When you’re emotionally exhausted from walking on foot or want to give your wings a rest, you can rent a high-powered motorboat and take to the seas. It feels superior to swimming in every manner and extends exploration to areas you may not have normally encountered during your journey. Riding this motorboat aims to give you the adrenaline rush you may desperately desire and you may even go as far as imagining the breeze hitting your face at full force.
Along your journey, you’ll meet a variety of animal NPCs that you can interact with. Some give you quests while others can be a delight to engage in conversation with. Each NPC has multiple dialogues to read and the majority will never be a bore. Their personalities are directly expressed from the get-go and bring humor with their dialogue.
A Short Hike isn’t only about hiking; there are various activities to partake in, such as gliding, swimming, diving, parkour racing, fishing, and boat driving. Most are optional; however, they greatly add to the experience the game provides as side activities to participate in. The region has its own secrets, too, as there are treasure maps one can find to obtain the goodies within.
Gliding and diving are two of the most entertaining activities you can take part in. Finding the highest hill to jump off and soar through the sky is always pleasing, and topping it off with a dive near water is the icing on top. Most of the activities in A Short Hike are great at getting you sidetracked and it’s nifty. There’s a lot to appreciate and doing most of these side activities never gets old.
Parkour racing is one of the main attractions of A Short Hike. Each race has a stamina handicap; regardless of how many golden feathers you have acquired, you can only utilize a limited number during a race. Your opponent will always be faster than the default stats your character possesses. This becomes especially noticeable with the late-game races. Defeating your opponent’s best effort at the race lets them copy your top actions, so you can still replay each race to try to beat your record.
The game lets you play at your own pace and encourages you to explore the vast region. Golden Feathers build up your stamina and must be collected to help you progress further. The more you obtain, the easier it will become to uncover new areas. The majority of your playthrough will consist of a carefree experience, but near the end will provide a slight challenge. Although not too difficult, you’ll have to acquire as many golden feathers as you’re able to or figure out a path you’re able to use to get closer to your goal.
The amount of time you will spend playing A Short Hike solely relies upon you. It may very well be one of the shortest games you’ll ever play, but there are many distractions to shift your aim from the primary hiking objective. These can, of course, be ignored, but doing so will wither the true beauty the game is known for. From time to time you may find yourself coming back for a glide or a boat ride. Each new session playing heightens the possibility of discovering something you may not have in your previous play sessions.
Although the game doesn’t get to the point where you’ll become bored with your character’s appearance, you can spice up their look with equippable accessories. These accessories can be obtained during your journey and add a nice touch to your character’s look. There aren’t many accessories to equip, but it’s sufficient for the amount of time you may spend to complete it.
Reaching the summit isn’t the end. There’s still more to do once you’ve achieved your goal and you can always try to find what you’ve missed. It may not be worth restarting a new save file for some because of the recycled text you’ll be reading from each NPC. Even though the amount of charm wouldn’t be the same, repeating everything shouldn’t get old and may still remain enjoyable.
Graphics and Soundtrack
Anyone who likes nature will adore the pixelated look presented in A Short Hike. Motion remains smooth throughout the game and each environment is a beauty awaiting discovery. Tower viewers can be found at specific spots and allow you to get a better view of specific locations. Some may not be as desirable at first glance; however, this changes upon discovering its zoom functionality for a clearer view.
Good, calming music is desperately needed in most games with an extensive focus on standalone exploration. Mark Sparling made certain to mark this one off the checklist by doing a fantastic job with the game’s soundtrack. It fits perfectly with the style of the game and makes journeying through the lands ever so pleasurable.
A Short Hike is the perfect game to pick up and play when you just want to relax and enjoy a carefree game with charming visuals. Even though it’s short as its name implies, there’s a lot more to do than you’d first expect. The game can be played at your own pace, the writing is solid and accompanied by great humor, and the price tag isn’t heavy on the wallet. It’s a game you won’t regret picking up, even if you’re hesitant at the name.
A Short Hike gets a 10/10.