I don’t normally subscribe to things like Humble Monthly, but this month was an exception so I could get the Spyro Reignited Trilogy. I mean, I can’t say no to Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and a Call of Duty game for €12, can I? And alongside my purchase of Humble Monthly, I gained access to the Humble Trove, which contains a bunch of DRM-free games that I can download and forget about. That was how I managed to stumble into a Short Hike, published by the Humble Bundle group themselves.
A Short Hike is a little exploration game where you control what is either an anthropomorphic penguin or some kind of sparrow called Claire. Claire is a pretty standard kid who has been sent to camp where her aunt works as a forest ranger. The main goal of the game is to get to the top of the mountain so you can get cellphone reception to call your mum, but it’s not easy – you’ll need items to hike up there, such as Golden Feathers which allow you to do extra jumps and climb sheer rocks; and money to buy them. You can interact with other hikers, explorers and rangers and collect coins and items.
Everything is set in a very calm, picturesque landscape, with a pixel-like art design and lots of little things to do. I’d say everything apart from the world in this game is small and cute. The characters are small and cute and have cute, inspirational things to say. The graphics are small and cute. The music is small and cute and all ‘tinkly’. It’s all just small and cute. Even the platforming is small and cute, because even if you mess up, you just climb back up and try again.
There’s no actual way to fail this game either. Sure, the goal is to get to the top of the mountain and finish your hike, but there’s no way to screw up. You take no damage and can’t die in any way. There are some minor challenges, like obtaining feathers and finding items but it’s nothing too difficult. Apparently you can get to the top without even obtaining a golden feather but I don’t know how you do that. I assume it involves using the bucket and bouncing off the various bouncy items around the map.
The best thing about this game is that Claire the bird has the ability to glide, giving her a huge advantage over other animals. Really, the gliding is probably the best part of the game – although if you go too high, everything goes a bit foggy. You can really just glide around with ease though, and a big part of the end of the game is taking an updraft and gliding all the way down back to the bottom.
I think my only real criticism is that you use your jump key for everything and that you are often fighting the camera and the controls while trying to get around. The game has somewhat isometric controls on a landscape that is filled with nooks, crannies and little things to get stuck on, and you may end up wasting golden feathers by accident. The default keybindings are a little weird for Keyboard – using arrow keys to move is a bit of a pain but everything remapped nicely to WASD controls. I haven’t played with a controller but I assume that it’d be easier than keyboard and mouse. The controls are a little bit finicky and you will find yourself slipping on slopes or getting stuck or caught on things.
There were also some issues with graphics, as I’d notice that parts of the terrain would pop in and out of view, which, for a small game like this, shouldn’t really happen, and I wasn’t even traveling particularly far. I think this is partly because everything is made of polygons and has a pixel-like overlay on top, making it a bit weird on strange resolutions, but I wouldn’t know for sure.
That being said, the criticisms are minor and you will quickly get around them. Aside from how short the game potentially is. It’s quite easy to rush through the entire game if you’re not careful. In fact, it only took me about an hour and a half to get to the peak, collecting 11 golden feathers along the way. If you’re paying for A Short Hike (which is currently about €6 on Steam, more in other currencies), then you might feel the price is a little steep for how short and simple the game is. But if you get the chance to play a Short Hike, I’d recommend it.
Overall, A Short Hike is a short, sweet little game. There’s not much else to say about it.