A Highland Song, the next game from 80 Days and Heaven's Vault studio Inkle, was announced last year as a side-scrolling platformer "with rhythm and survival elements." At the time it was listed only as "coming soon," but now we've got a proper release date, and it's close: Inkle will set its latest narrative-heavy tale free on Steam on December 5.
The new project struck me as something a little unusual when it was announced. It follows the adventures of a teenager named Moira who's invited to visit her uncle, who lives in a lighthouse off the rugged Scottish coast, and while that sounds like an Inkle idea alright it's also a survival platformer with rhythm game bits. That sounds like a far cry from the studio's usual pure narrative experiences, but the press release accompanying the release date makes it clear that the story retains primacy.
"Stretching between Moira and her destination are the Scottish Highlands: hundreds of miles of rocky terrain to navigate, steep peaks to climb, hidden paths to uncover, and harsh weather to survive," Inkle said. "The Highlands are rich with stories, secrets, and song—but these hills are also dangerous. Can you make it to the lighthouse in time?
"A Highland Song is part survival adventure, part platformer, and part rhythm game with a surprising, sprawling story that weaves into every decision you make. Each peak can be explored if you find the right shortcut, and all paths lead to the sea... eventually. If you don't get there in time, you'll be rewarded for trying again."
It looks pretty brilliant, too.
Inkle's had an impressive run over the past decade: 80 Days won our Game of the Year award for Best Writing in 2015, Heaven's Vault notched up an 88% review score as an "exquisite" archaeology adventure, and Pendragon—which was also something of a departure for Inkle as a narrative-strategy game—was a sparser experience but "by far Inkle's most replayable game." (I was also personally impressed with Inkle's earlier release, the multi-part Steve Jackson's Sorcery!.) Given that history, I have high hopes for A Highland Song, and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on it.