A Short Hike
Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 9

A Short Hike invites players to spend a day in Hawk Peak Provincial Park with a small blue bird named Claire. The primary goal is to reach the mountain’s summit to get cellphone reception, but there’s plenty to see and do along the way. The park is filled with charming characters, and players will also find a surprising amount of activities to keep them occupied. The game is as wholesome as can be and provides a cozy, entertaining experience suitable for players of all ages.

Gameplay: A Short Hike is a very casual experience that features plenty of optional challenges that are fun to complete.  

Graphics: Players can adjust the amount of pixelation to their liking, but the vibrant visuals look good on any setting.

Sound: The adaptive soundtrack and clear sound effects make exploring the park more atmospheric. 

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A Short Hike

Developer: adamgryu | Publisher: adamgryu | Release Date: 2019 | Genre: Casual / Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

A Short Hike Opens with Claire, a small blue bird, arriving at Hawk Peak Provincial Park to spend some time relaxing with her aunt May, a ranger. However, Claire is clearly anxious about receiving an important phone call and is distressed when her aunt informs her that there is no cellphone reception in the park. Fortunately, May has a solution and suggests that Claire hike to the summit of the mountain, which will help her relax and be the only place with a cellphone signal. Claire is initially a bit hesitant to embark on the hike as scaling the mountain appears quite daunting, but with some prompting from her aunt, she sets off on her adventure.

As the name suggests, A Short Hike is a small open-world exploration game in which the main goal is to reach the top of Hawk Peak. Players can head straight for the peak but will soon find that to make it to the top, they need to have special items called “Golden Feathers.” These feathers increase Claire’s stamina, and according to other visitors to the park, Claire needs at least seven of them to complete her hike. There’s a total of twenty golden feathers to be found in the park, though, so it shouldn’t take players too long to get the minimum required for the hike.

While the hike along Hawk Peak Trail is scenic and relaxing, the real fun comes from wandering off the beaten path and chatting with other visitors. Like Claire, they are all anthropomorphic animals, so players can expect to encounter raccoons, rabbits, foxes, turtles, cats, frogs, and more. Some are at the park to participate in a marathon, others to find inspiration for their paintings, and a few are there just to have fun. The conversations with the other characters are short but charming and add to the cozy feel of the game. Players can take some time off from their hike to help others, too, like the camper who lost their permit to a hungry fish or the ram who lost his watch and is paranoid that it will be sold on the internet by whoever finds it. The rewards for these optional quests are usually coins, which can be used to buy golden feathers or hats. Players can also find coins lying in the open or inside the treasure chests scattered around the park. Once players get their hands on a shovel, they can even dig for buried treasure or make money by catching and selling rare fish after acquiring a fishing rod.

Hawk Peak Provincial Park is a relatively small place, but there are plenty of things to do. In addition to the treasure hunting and fishing we already mentioned, players can also take part in a volleyball-like mini-game called “beachstickball,” take on another park visitor in parkour races and collect seashells. After the game’s release on the Nintendo Switch, the developer also updated the game’s PC version, adding a motorboat for players to race around in.

A Short Hike is viewed from an overhead isometric perspective, and players can choose how “crunchy” they want the visuals to be. The options range from “minimum” and “tiny and sharp” to “small and tasty,” “rare,” and “big and crunchy.” It is great that the developer provided players with this choice, as some will find the heavily pixelated visuals very charming, while others might prefer the cleaner look. Hawk Peak Provincial Park is a very vibrant place, and trees, waterfalls, sandy beaches, and beautiful views surround the hiking trails. The wind currents are also visible, and the swaying trees make the game world feel more alive. Players have limited control over the camera, but this is only really useful for checking Claire’s surroundings for coins.

The game features an adaptive soundtrack, which changes depending on where in the park players are and what Claire is doing. For example, if Claire is busy with a running challenge or speeding around in the motorboat, the music will speed up and become louder, but if she’s quietly fishing, it might fade away. In addition, the sound effects are really good, and the park is filled with bird noises. The game does not feature voice acting, but this doesn’t detract from the experience, as conversations with other characters tend to be short.

A Short Hike is playable with a keyboard or a controller, and we found the latter to be the most comfortable option. Claire can run, climb, swim, glide, and use various items she acquires during her hike. A button tap opens Claire’s inventory from where players can select which item to equip. For example, the shovel can be used to dig holes, the pick axe to clear away debris and open shortcuts, and the fishing rod to catch fish. Claire can even find a bucket that can be filled with water to use on unique plants that are dotted around the park. When watered, these plants instantly turn into bouncy springboards, which can help give Claire a boost to soar around. The catch is that Claire cannot climb with a full bucket, so players often have to figure out how to get to these plants with the water.

Claire can climb up any horizontal surface by simply holding down the jump button, but the distance she can climb is dictated by the amount of golden feathers she has. These feathers “recharge” when she’s back on even ground, except in the colder reaches of the mountain where depleted feathers remain frozen. In these instances, players must venture close to campfires or jump in one of the many hot springs to recharge the feathers.

One of the best parts of the game is the gliding, which allows Claire to soar over the terrain as free as a bird. Gliding is typically initiated by jumping off higher spots, but there are also a few areas with updrafts that can give Claire a boost.

There’s no denying that A Short Hike is a very relaxing and charming game that is also quite short. Players can easily reach the mountain peak in one playing session, but thankfully, they can also continue exploring the rest of the park afterward. We definitely recommend speaking to all the characters and thoroughly exploring the park to get the most out of the experience. Nonetheless,  considering the low asking price, A Short Hike offers plenty of value for money despite its length.

System Requirements

      • OS *: Windows 7 SP1+ (or later)
      • Processor: Intel or AMD Dual Core at 2 GHz or better
      • Memory: 2 GB RAM
      • Graphics: Intel Graphics 4400 or better
      • DirectX: Version 11
      • Storage: 400 MB available space
  • OS: macOS 10.12+
  • Processor: Intel or AMD Dual Core at 2 GHz or better
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics 4400 or better
  • Storage: 400 MB available space
  • OS: Ubuntu 16.04+ (64-bit only)
  • Processor: Intel or AMD Dual Core at 2 GHz or better
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics 4400 or better
  • Storage: 400 MB available space

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