I'm terrified of heights but Cairn makes me want to immediately grab my carabiner and scale a huge mountain

Cairn World Premiere Trailer | Summer Game Fest 2024 - YouTube Cairn World Premiere Trailer | Summer Game Fest 2024 - YouTube
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I've never been one for verticality. I'm a gal who prefers her feet firmly on the ground, with as little space between me and the floor as possible. So I have to admit, watching the Cairn trailer during Summer Game Fest did make my stomach do a wee flip as protagonist Aava's leg trembles before she plummets off the mountainside, mercifully saved by her harness.

Despite my queasiness for heights, I do like the look of Cairn. It's the latest game from developer Game Bakers—the folk behind Furi and Haven, the latter of which has been sat on my Steam wishlist for a criminally long time—and is described as a "realistic mountain ascent adventure with an intuitive climbing simulation." 

According to CEO Audrey Leprince, the inspiration comes from a slightly sombre place. "When I was a teenager my dad prepared an expedition to Mount K2, but half his team didn't come back," she told the audience on stage at Summer Game Fest. "And I always wondered why do alpinists risk their lives in such extreme conditions. This is something we wanted to explore in Cairn."

Cairn will be all about finding the perfect nooks and crannies to plonk your feet and tuck your fingers into, shifting things like Aava's posture and balance to ensure she remains stable on her ascent. Do I feel nervous about that? A little, but it sounds like a nice enough way to explore something I'm deathly afraid of within the confines of a fun little videogame world. 

I mean, I say that, but I probably shouldn't get too comfortable considering Game Bakers describes each wall Aava climbs as feeling "like a boss fight." Thankfully there'll be some difficulty adjustments available, which I will most certainly be doing to give myself a less stressful time.

Screenshots of climbing adventure puzzle game Cairn.

(Image credit: Game Bakers)

Cairn isn't just about the act of climbing itself, either. There'll be an element of resource management involved too, making sure Aava is appropriately stocked with things like chalk, food, medicine and other mountain climbing doodads so that you don't suddenly get halfway up a giant craggy cliff and realise you haven't eaten breakfast. Thankfully, you'll be able to set up temporary camps as you make your way up, using them to restock and refuel before continuing the arduous ascent to the top of Mount Kami.

Though it's not the only climbing game we've had recently—both Deliver Us Mars and Jusant released last year, both of which had puzzley climbing elements—Cairn is the first one I've actually been interested in. Though I'm still yet to actually experience any of Game Bakers' library first hand, we applauded Haven for its effortlessly realistic dialogue, while our Furi review got two big thumbs up for being "a stylish mix of bullet hell and deft swordplay." 

That's a pretty good track record, and I can't wait to see what Cairn has to offer. I hope we get to see a lot more of the pure guttural, primal scream Aava lets out at the end of the trailer like she's just hit a personal best in the gym because same, girl. Same.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.