Monday, December 04, 2023

Early Game Review: 'A Highland Song'

Set in the Scottish Highlands, "A Highland Song" is a whimsical puzzle-laden platformer that captures the mystery and majesty of its setting as it tells a delightful and stirring story.

You play as Moira, a teen who has longed to leave her small village to experience the sea. When her uncle Hamish sends her a letter asking her to visit his coastal, she ventures off on an 80-day journey that will lead her to the lighthouse near Hamish. 

Metroidvania aspects abound, with hidden paths and surprises beckoning around every corner. As you climb, slide and run through the environments -- all set to a captivating traditional Scottish-style soundtrack -- an overwhelming sense of discovery washes over you. The music plays a particularly important part during rhythmic sections, which challenge you to keep pace with the music to advance.

The dev team at Inkle, who are following up indie successes of "80 Days," "Heaven's Vault" and "Overboard!" continue to follow their distinct voice, unfettered by corporate mandates or the demands of deadline crunches. "A Highland Song" is a gorgeous and inspired effort that feels like a joyous treasure.

Replayability abounds. Because the game is so rich and dense, it's impossible to experience all of its inner secrets on a single playthrough. I'd advise shying away from walkthroughs unless you are hopelessly stuck, because they rob the game of its sense of exploration and reward.

"A Highland Song" is one of the most intriguing games I have played this year, and it continues to reward me the more I play. The story inspires chuckles and tears, and makes you fall in love with the Highlands just as the developers have.

Publisher sent review code.

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