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‘A Short Hike’ Review: Simplicity at Its Most Soothing

A Short Hike is a charming title all about soaking up the joy of nature, interactions, and the discoveries they lead to.

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‘A Short Hike’ Review

Developer: Adamgryu | Publisher: Adamgryu | Genre: Adventure | Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC | Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch

Originally released in 2019 for PC, quaint indie title A Short Hike has now made its way onto Nintendo’s beloved handheld/console hybrid. Taking place on a small provincial park island, A Short Hike treats players to a bite-sized holiday in nature where the narrative takes a backseat to the childlike enjoyment of wandering almost-aimlessly through a new, unexplored location.

The game starts with a short opening exchange where players are informed that the lead character Claire–an anthropomorphic bird–is taking a brief getaway trip with her Aunt May (a Hawk Peak Provincial Park ranger) to have a break from the city life. Upon arriving at Hawk Peak, Claire struggles to get a signal on her phone, so she decides to trek up to the summit of the park to regain contact with the outside world.

Claire interacting with an NPC.
It’s all about the little moments.

It’s a basic premise that A Short Hike sticks to; what you see is what you get, and there’s no huge surprise or reveal waiting. Thankfully, it’s a very pleasant hike. From the outset, there’s a sense of natural freedom and exploration to the park that’s inviting. There are no enemies to fight or skill-intensive challenges to overcome; things mostly boil down to finding collectibles laying around and interacting with the park’s other residents in charming (and often humorous) exchanges.

The most coveted of these collectibles are golden feathers, which allow Claire to climb and flap her wings multiple times while gliding, making the steep trek up Hawk Peak Trail much more manageable. Most questlines amongst the NPCs lead to additional golden feathers, and the compact nature of the island means that these questlines don’t need to be bogged down with markers and checklists. Wandering around and stumbling across a means of progression is a relaxing and satisfying endeavor, with Hawk Peak’s serene atmosphere leaving the player in a state of tranquillity throughout. 

Claire gliding.
Gliding is always a fun way to experience the views.

The sub-two hour-long run time might sound criminally brief, but the simplicity of the mechanics and the narrative, along with the overall scale, leave the length feeling satisfactory for what the title is trying to achieve. The reasonably low price also softens the blow tremendously (although those looking for a meatier title might still want to look elsewhere).

For everyone else, A Short Hike is a wonderfully relaxing break from reality, with Hawk Peak Provincial Park offering a nice range of locales and hidden activities to uncover that steer the game away from mundanity. For the adventurous types in particular there are certainly worse ways to spend a gaming session. Just keep in mind that once you’re done you might not find much of a reason to go back.

I enjoy writing almost as much as video games, so here I am, writing about video games! I have a deep love of PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox, as well as a wealth of experience with each. I cover a range of topics, genres, and franchises with articles that are (hopefully) filled with interesting opinions and perspectives.

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