Before I moved to New York, I used to walk in the woods a lot. Sometimes, I’d drive with friends to mountains or parks and explore off the beaten path. A Short Hike, which is available for PC and Mac in this month’s Humble Bundle, captures the playful joy of walking on winding paths and meeting folks along the way.
Created by Adam Robinson-Yu, A Short Hike focuses on a sassy bird named Claire who explores the woods and tries to scale a nearby peak to get some mobile phone reception. Everything takes place from a nearly top down perspective where the world twists and turns to show new paths. The park and surrounding summer camp feel ripped from overworld adventure games like The Legend of Zelda.
There are treasures to dig up, quests to complete for strangers, and tons of hidden areas. That might mean wandering up a path to find a lake or leaping off a high peak and gliding down to a ship docked near the ocean shore. Most of the quests are fetch-quests to find items and return them to owners, but the world is much larger than it seems at first glance, and there’s plenty to explore.
A Short Hike’s bright art style and snappy writing do a lot for the game. There’s a quirky pace to everything. You’ll encounter over-enthusiastic runners handing out free shoes and low-key turtle folk making sandcastle. It’s worthwhile to talk with everyone, both to unlock quests and to get a nice blast of humour.
When I look for indie games, I often want puzzling platformers or other ways to unwind adjacent to my diet of hardcore action like Sekiro or Devil May Cry. A Short Hike fits the mould, and I’m eager to collect more items and climb to greater heights. A Short Hike is currently only available through Humble but will come to Steam later this summer.