A Highland Song review: Breath of the Wild-inspired indie is…

Moira jumps over the rocks in A Highland Song.

a highland song

MSRP $18.00

“A Highland Song successfully brings the awe-inspiring freedom of Breath of the Wild to the Scottish Highlands.”


  • painting art style

  • freeform climbing

  • Creative “Run” Structure

  • excellent music


  • players may get stuck

  • Music sections become tiresome

I a highland song Three times before I came to my real conclusion, but it’s my disastrous first attempt that impresses me the most. After spending a few hours lost in the Scottish Highlands, my impatience got the better of me when I accidentally misjudged a jump and fell into a rocky pit in my haste. My already low stamina dwindled to almost zero and I found myself unable to climb back up. Frustrated with the way my journey unfolded, I was tempted to quit the game and accept the fact that my story was destined to end with a dead end.

I’m sure glad I didn’t.

Developed by Incal, a highland song is built on teachable moments like these. The 2D platformer is a coming-of-age story about a runaway girl trying to find herself in a twisted world that feels frustratingly overwhelming. Although there is a straightforward narrative to follow, its most important moments are the evolving stories that players discover among the mountain peaks. Only through the act of wandering does the deepest truth of adventure emerge: You can never find yourself if you are never lost in the beginning.

a highland song There is a meditative search for self-discovery that successfully translates to freedom. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild For a grassroots indie adventure. There may be disappointments and failures along the way, but imperfection is part of the journey. It’s our job to learn from those mistakes and become better for them.

get out of here

a highland song Transforms a childhood fantasy into a unique survival adventure. It begins with Moira MacKinnon, a young girl living in the Scottish Highlands, who takes a break from her dilapidated home and nagging mother. She is a young woman on a mission; Her plan is to escape to the sea to meet her uncle in time for the Scottish festival of Beltane, which marks the beginning of summer. There, she hopes to find a cure for her growing pains, as her uncle promises to help her understand who she really is. It’s a simple story of childhood angst transformed into a touching exploration of self-discovery.

Moira climbs a wall in A Highland Song.

To reflect Moira’s newfound freedom, Inkle creates a unique gameplay loop that inspires breath of the wild, Moira simply has to make its way to the sea by crossing a series of valleys dotted with climbable peaks. Despite being rendered in 2D, the realm of Highlands looks just as grand as Zelda’s Hyrule. It is a layered landscape painting rich in naturalistic detail and rich earth tones. As soon as I move my joystick up and start bounding between peaks and climbing any surface, I get an immediate sense of the sublime.

That initial excitement soon turns to worry as the reality of Moira’s adventure sets in. a highland song Soon reveals itself to be a small-scale survival game. I need to manage Moira’s initially large stamina, which determines how much climbing she can do at a time by resting between harder hikes. A hasty jump or hard landing can result in sore knees that bite the bar until I rest. I also need to find a suitable shelter for him to sleep when night falls, as trying to take a nap under a rocky ledge will deplete his stamina the next day. This is an effective method of resource management that encourages me to proceed with caution and always have an emergency plan ready in case the lights go out.

in every obstacle a highland song can be overcome.

To make matters more stressful, Moira is on a timer – she only has a few days to get back in time for Beltane. She may arrive late at sea, but she will not find the answers she seeks. This creates a strong push and pull, as there are times when I need to push forward at the risk of injury. This tension is further heightened by the fact that the Highlands are a vast labyrinth of hills, caves and secrets. As Moira tries to sort out her tangled emotions, I begin to feel hopelessly lost, wondering if the hills will ever really end.

It’s even more rewarding when I’m encouraged to move forward. in every obstacle a highland song can be overcome. Even when it feels like I’m at rock bottom, anxiously making my way toward the horizon, there’s always a peak I can climb to see where I I am going. There is clarity at the end of every struggle; I just need to get up there to find it.

a wicked musical

The core gameplay ideas make for a great platforming adventure, but it’s the overarching structure that makes the experience special. Like Inkle’s last release, Narrative Murder Mystery outboard, a highland song Takes creative notes from the roguelike genre. Each adventure works like a traditional “run”, where Moira tries to reach the ocean as fast as she can. Actually getting there in time for Beltane is challenging at first, but becomes easier as more players come to understand the Highlands and themselves.

In each playthrough, the goal is to find a way through the mountains through discoverable paths. They can be solved through scattered papers that contain clues to shortcuts. While climbing a peak and seeing the ground, players can drop a pin on the map to mark secret locations. After going to the spot, the clues will be verified and directions will be given. And since the map doesn’t change between races, that means any knowledge gained is carried forward (as are all collected papers). I can also find various items during my adventure that I may find some use for later, like when I realize I need some flammable wood to light a torch.

The more I learn about the land, the faster I will be able to conquer it in my next race. And that means I can pace myself even better next time, by learning when it’s okay to slow down and rest. I discover something new about myself every time that makes life a little easier, as Moira does in her story.

Moira jumps over the rocks in A Highland Song.

Less successful is the musical component of the adventure, which does not carry the same narrative weight. When players reach a long part of the canyon, they are suddenly thrown into a quick-paced rhythm minigame where they need to press buttons in time with the music to jump between rocks. Successfully completing a song is believed to increase Moira’s strength, but the change often seems negligible. By the end, the sections start to feel like long, repetitive intervals designed to make flatland travel a little more palatable. Although to Inkel’s credit, these sections are home to some of the best music you’ll hear in a video game this year, as the sentimental Scottish folk tunes bring cultural authenticity to the journey.

Like Moira, a highland song Sometimes it feels as if he is in search of his identity. It brings up a lot of gameplay styles and they don’t always work together, like a teenager trying to fit in with the goth jocks. This can lead to some messy moments, like my ruined first playthrough that left me no choice but to reset. However, there is some unintentional honesty in it. It wouldn’t be a true teen story if it was too afraid to find its voice through experimentation. a highland song Reminds us that it’s okay to try something new and maybe even fail, as long as we’re willing to push ourselves and move forward with confidence. This is what growing up is all about.

a highland tale Testing was done on PC and Steam Deck OLED.

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