Review: A Short Hike

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bird is the word

A short hike is a relaxed game about an adorable bird, roaming the countryside, hoping to find cell phone reception. It was originally released as part of the Humble Monthly program in April, but it’s finally seeing an official launch, and it’s also packed with new content to celebrate the occasion.

It’s one of those “palette cleaning” games, which is a stark contrast to the majority of what we’re used to. During the roughly two-hour game, your time will be almost entirely spent exploring, never being prompted to advance at anything other than your own pace. There are extremely light puzzle elements, but the main thing is to relax, meet the locals and have fun.

A short hike (CP)
Developer: Adamgryu
Publisher: Adamgryu
Released: July 30, 2019
MSRP: $7.99

One really badass talent the protagonist has is flying, and soaring through the air is fantastic. You will increase the ability to glide longer by collecting golden feathers which are hidden on the map. I’ve never really sought them out as much as I have by venturing off the beaten path, drawn in by sheer curiosity.

The level design is designed in such a way that you’re naturally directed to areas that lead you to various objectives, but you still feel like you’re always in control of where you want to go and what you want to do. There are also a few side quests and activities to distract you from the main journey. Once I got a rod, I made it a point to stop at each body of water, cast my line, and try to find all the different species. Each new fish I catch could then be exchanged for a cash reward and doubloons exchanged for special bait that can help attract prey even faster.

The fishing mechanic is part of a new game update, which was not present in the original Humble release. It will, however, be provided free of charge to anyone who already owns it. I’m sure there were more additions, but this was my first experience with A short hikeso I’m really not in a position to comment on the question of these changes as a whole.

The dialogue with the locals is super cute and managed to draw me a few heartfelt laughs. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of this adventure smiling, and I feel like that’s testament to how wholesome and awesome it is. A short hike is. It’s really a small experience, but it’s a very specific little experience, one that captures a powerful feeling and processes it just enough not to overstay its welcome. Despite everyone being a talking animal, it all feels down to earth and authentic.

There was a moment early in the game where you learn an ability, meet an NPC who tells you about it after the first time you use it, and then the protagonist claims they always knew about that treat. Because, duh, everyone knows it! What asshole do you take me for? What loser wouldn’t know anything that Easy? This is some seriously wholesome shit, y’all. That made me laugh.

A short hike is part of that burgeoning gaming brand that leans hard on the silly, goofy, and self-aware, and it sits nicely next to stuff like Grace Bruxner frog detective as a constant reminder that not every game has to be a mind-blowing adventure. Sometimes it’s good not to take things so seriously, and it’s good to laugh at the absurdity buried in everyday conversation. Hell, one of the strongest selling points of A short hike that’s how non-binding it is. I want more of those smaller, offbeat experiences that I think show how screwed up the indie scene is.

My biggest complaint is that what’s here eventually ends, and it’s over too early. His execution is a bit of a blessing and a curse. For one thing, the experience is over before it even has a chance to become stale. On the other hand, the final moments suffer from a lack of set-up and character development. Without diving into spoilers, the climax is some really heavy stuff that’s just kind of an anvil that falls on you like it’s no big deal. Without major foreshadowing, the whole scene sounds a bit hollow.

A short hike is far from perfect, but it is absolutely unique and worth your time. It’s also super fucking rad, and I love it. Warts and all. If you’re looking for something different and don’t mind the price of admission, I think this is worth more than the price of admission. It may not be perfect, but life never is, and it is beautiful and beautiful in its own way.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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