Pine Hearts Impression – A Happy Little Adventure

Pine Hearts is a cozy adventure game by Hyper Luminal Games, where you prepare to climb a big mountain. Before you venture forth, however, you must gather the right equipment and learn the necessary skills. After currently completing the first hour or so of Pine Hearts, I can already get a sense of what kind of game it’s going to be.

More of a puzzle game, Pine Hearts plays a lot like a Metroidvania. The comparison is mostly due to the act of finding unreachable places, exploring to learn new skills, then backtracking to open new spots. At first you will pass a precarious tree where another location is across the stream. By following the obvious path, you gain more memory tokens and unlock more actions to do. The symbol for the memory tokens are strange. Not exactly sure why they’re depicted as drops of water. Perhaps it’s to secretly remind the player to drink water? I think it’s just a symbol that’s eye-catching, but unfortunately the colors are also used within the scenery of the world, so sometimes it blends in. There’s also something off-putting about seeing random droplets floating in your path. I understand that the droplets are used as a leading mechanism to guide players in the right direction and mark areas that have not been explored, but the imagery is strange. How the water symbol relates to “memories” that you unlock is beyond me. The memories that unlock moves also are limited to the amount of droplets that you earn, so Pine Hearts won’t progress until you start doing some tasks.

Pine Hearts 2
Note to self: Never leave a tasty burger lying around or the forest cryptid will come an snatch it.

The tasks that are to be done in Pine Hearts are remedial. I currently haven’t found any challenge in them, besides navigating through the winding paths that the game has you follow. A good portion of the tasks are fetch quests, which are padded out by excruciatingly long paths that get from one spot to another. My hand started cramping from constantly holding down the walking button. Luckily your character walks quickly. Unfortunately the paths are walled off, so if you know you need to get to a lower adjacent section, you can’t take a short cut and walk off the side. With the fetch quests and the long trails, tasks that you perform for the townsfolk start feeling like a chore, yet you have to grind these tasks otherwise you won’t have enough memory juice to unlock a new ability.

Pine Hearts covers up these little problems with heaping doses of charm. From the small bloops of navigating the menu and world interactions, to the entire memory segments, Pine Hearts is oozing with comforting vibes. My favorite moments are the end of the memory sequences when there is a cutscene about how your father takes care of you and gives you hugs. It’s so wholesome I wanna explode! No combat or evil presences around, Pines Hearts is turning out to be a big bindle of happiness.

Pine Hearts 1
Here I go, bashing these silly goblin cutouts with my stick. No need to call me a hero or anything.

Jordan played Pine Hearts on PC with a review code.

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