[Nintendo Switch] A Highland Song Review

by EdEN, Owner

A Highland Song from inkle is a wonderful hand-drawn musically adjacent journey through the Scottish Highlands, with all its gorgeous landscapes and dangerous hills. Check our A Highland Song review!

A Highland Song from inkle is a wonderful hand-drawn musically adjacent journey through the Scottish Highlands, with all its gorgeous landscapes and dangerous hills. You’ll be taking on the role of Moira McKinnon, who, after receiving a letter from her uncle Hamish, asked her to come to his lighthouse by the sea. That means that Moira will need to traverse through the highlands if she’s to make it there by Beltane – the Gaelic May Day festival that marks the start of summer. Is this journey doable in a single week? After all, she’ll have to traverse miles of rocky terrain under harsh conditions. This one is certainly different from the studio’s previous releases, which include Heaven’s Vault, in which you’ll be tasked with rediscovering a lost language, or 80 Days, an interactive steampunk adventure inspired by the book by Jules Verne in which you’ll be choosing how your journey takes place.

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The soundtrack from Laurence Chapman, TALISK and Fourth Moon is an integral part of this experience since the songs help to bring to life each part of this journey. Some of the climbing sections will be followed by a rhythm game section during which you’ll have to first start sprinting so that you can then press this or that button in time with the beat as Moira jumps over small obstacles or clears some dangerous gaps on her path. You can check out the original score over on Bandcamp. The music contributed by TALISK, as well as that from Fourth Moon, is also worth checking out.

You’ll control your character with the left analog stick, sprinting with the B button and jumping with the X button. Interactions and choices are mapped to the A button. You can also sit down and relax for a moment by pressing the Y button. During the aforementioned rhythm game segments, you’ll first only need to press the X button as Moira moves over each musical marker. Later on, you’ll have to pay even more attention since some spots will require you to press the Y button instead.

A Highland Song Review - Map

There’s some replay value to consider for this one since there are different routes that Moira can take to reach her destination. Some will lead to her finding specific peaks to climb – which will be added to her notebook – while others will allow you to find landmarks she has previously noted down or which she’s been made aware of thanks to one of the collectibles found along the way. There are many map fragments to collect. Along with those, you’ll also be finding stuff such as a crow’s feather, a dog’s collar, a gold broch, and more.

Time passes as Moira runs through each area, and the Scottish weather will sometimes get in her way. If Moira is running out of breath from all of the running and jumping, taking a moment for her to recover is a must. If she slips from a cliff and injures her arm, you better sit down so that she can heal her wounds. Moira will get hungry, so she’ll have to eat from the small stash of supplies she brought with her. All of this consumes time, which means that, at some point, it will be nightfall.

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Moira has to sleep in order to get some proper rest for the next day on her journey… and sometimes she won’t be able to find proper shelter for this. When that happens, she’ll be uncomfortable, and her overall health will be reduced. If, on the other hand, she manages to find a spot where she can comfortably sleep until the sun rises, then her maximum health will be increased. You’ll have to balance your travel time with resting and getting as good of a night of sleep as possible, or you won’t be able to reach the lighthouse by Beltane.

Moira will learn more about the lore surrounding around her thanks to the different tales that her uncle Hamish has recounted. The further you progress in the game, the more tales Moira will remember from all of the things that her uncle has told her about. As you get some sleep during your journey and discover new peaks, you’ll get to decide what you want to learn more about next based on the available choices presented to you.

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There are some accessibility options available in A Highland Song so that gamers of all skill levels can have a chance to enjoy this adventure. You can make it so that your character trips less when running to music, never flails while climbing, for music rhythms to be easier, and for the weather and environment to be mild, moderate, or harsh. Since you’ll be exploring locations with some very slippery slopes – and since you’ll be climbing some of them – changing the conditions to mild could be a good option for one of your runs.

A Highland Song is a wonderful hand-drawn, musically adjacent journey through the Scottish Highlands, with all its gorgeous landscapes and dangerous hills. As Moira McKinnon tries to reach the lighthouse by the sea where her uncle Hamish resides, she’ll get to explore old buildings, and large monuments, enter dark caves, and learn more about the lore relayed by her uncle. As a heads-up, you shouldn’t worry about reaching the lighthouse in time during your first run. While it’s certainly doable, you will probably end up taking some detours along the way or making a mistake or two that can see you reaching the lighthouse after Beltane, but that only means you can use what you’ve learned to find a faster route for your second run as you find more peaks and new map fragments that might reveal some solid shortcuts. A Highland Song is out on Nintendo Switch with a $17.99 price tag. If you hurry up, you can get the game with a 10% discount.

A Highland Song Review - 4

This A Highland Song review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by inkle.

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