A Short Hike is a charming adventure game that’s perfectly in sync with its own vibe. You step into the shoes of Claire, a young bird who finds herself in a world of anthropomorphic animals, spending time in a small but bustling provincial park. Claire has a weight on her shoulders and needs to make a phone call, but the only place with a decent cellular reception is at the park’s summit, located in the center of the mountain. The two-hour game’s only real objective is to get Claire to the top.
While there is a conventional core to A Short Hike that involves completing light fetch quests and collecting golden feathers to climb higher and double-jump, most of these tasks are simple, and you can (quite literally) soar around most of the park as you please, enjoying the scenery and interacting with other park-goers as they go about their day. This freedom not only feels pleasant but also beautifully aligns with the game’s themes. That mountain is calling, but you don’t have to rush to climb it immediately. The world will still be waiting for you to explore when you’re ready.
Number 4. Desert Golfing
Desert Golfing may seem like a straightforward mobile game with minimal features, but it’s much more than that. The game only consists of a ball, a hole, and a procedurally generated desert landscape in between. No par, no club selection, no music, no items, no pause menu, no restarts, and not even a physical avatar.
However, playing Desert Golfing is a meditative experience that borders on the spiritual. You can focus entirely on the simple pleasure of arcing a ball through the air and watching it kick up sand until it falls into the hole. With a shot counter that doesn’t serve any real purpose, the game is about the act of play more than the rules of a game. And when you come across a new feature, like a cactus or a setting sun, it feels like a significant moment.
Number 5. The Ramp
Similar to Desert Golfing, The Ramp also follows a minimalist approach that proves to be successful. However, this is a skateboarding game that is completely different from the Tony Hawk series. The Ramp does not bog you down with high scores, skill points, objectives, camera adjustments or even a HUD. Instead, it respects your intelligence and unlocks all its courses and characters after a brief tutorial.
It may take some time to get used to its controls, but The Ramp does an excellent job of portraying the exhilaration of motion and momentum in vert skating. From building speed to that fleeting moment of weightlessness in the air to the excitement of gravity pulling you back down, The Ramp captures it all. With a few tricks to master and a relaxing soundtrack to set the mood, there are no real consequences for failing a trick.
The Ramp may not offer the depth that conventional games do, but it excels in what it sets out to do, and it remains unwavering in its simplicity.