Winter is settling in here, and with the early darkness and cold winds I’ve had to start dropping my morning jogs, park adventures, and sunny excursions for indoor adventures. When I was asked if I wanted to take a look at A Short Hike, it seemed like the perfect cozy winter evening option – coffee, a relaxing game, and blankets.
Little did I know that A Short Hike really was going to be the perfect winter evening adventure, and I loved every moment of this island adventure. I opted for the PS4 version, but it’s now also available on PS5 and XBox One, so you’ll have your choice of platforms (it was already out on Switch and PC).
In this summery, cozy game from Adam Robinson-Yu, the player takes the place of Claire – a young bird visiting her aunt on a gorgeous island full of surprises, friends to make, and nature. Upon waking up in the morning, Claire is encouraged to hike up Hawk Trail – a notoriously difficult but rewarding mountain path. It’s also the only place to get cell reception, and she’s got a phone call to receive, so it works out perfectly.
While the end goal of the game is to reach the peak, A Short Hike gives you a whole island’s worth of open world exploration to take in as well. There are beaches to explore, games to play, quests to complete, and plenty of treasure to find along the way. During this, you’ll also be able to amass golden feathers – extra stamina that lets you climb and fly to make your hike more manageable and places more reachable.
My only complaint during my playthrough was that there was a strange graphics issue (which I’m not sure if it was intentional or not) where the screen would get shaky almost. At first I thought it might be to mimic wind, but it was hard to tell if it was meant to be that way, and it did make movement difficult in those spots. However, it was a mostly rare occurrence, and in only a few places. In the end, it didn’t impact my overall experience much.
Note: The dev was kind enough to reach out after reading this, and we think it’s possible it may actually be a buggy ps4 controller that caused my issues. They’re looking into it as well!
The exploration is wonderful, letting the player really experience the feeling of making new friends, trying out new games, learning to race, and helping others. The pixelated graphics are charming and full of colour, and the calm soundtrack is perfect to vibe to as you glide, swim, and explore your way not only to Hawk Peak, but around the entire island and sometimes even a little beyond. You also get to enjoy fishing, boating, beachstickball (I promise, it’s fun), racing, treasure hunting… There’s plenty to do!
You don’t have to worry about failing – there is no fall damage, drowning, or death to worry about. At most you might fall or miss your mark and need to try again, but the lack of health to watch really lets the player take their time, get comfortable, and fully enjoy the world around them without restrictions.
While the game can take between 1 and 3 hours to fully complete, I feel like there are still a lot of secrets I have yet to discover. It’s definitely a game I’ll look forward to playing again this season.
If you like cozy games with a lot of exploration that aren’t overfocused on challenge and difficulty, A Short Hike is a perfect little adventure to take. I found it to be engaging and comfortable, and time passed quickly as I leapt my way up mountains, glided to the top of old buildings, and talked to residents about their paintings. It was a wonderful experience.