Pine Hearts preview: A delightful dip into nostalgia and love
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Featured Image Credit: Little Nook
If you have a spare 40 minutes to play an incredibly sweet game, then you must make it Pine Hearts. I got the chance to get hands-on with this gem and I believe everyone should give it a chance.
On the face of it, Pine Hearts looks delightful, a kind of twee, simple design that delivers bold cartoon aesthetics. This simple visual is perfect for the undercurrent of emotions that the game slaps you with, out of nowhere.
Pine Hearts is a perfect fit for the Steam Deck and plays brilliantly
Imagine To The Moon’s emotional beauty combined with the subtle humour of Animal Crossing, and a dash of puzzling akin to The Legend of Zelda. We’ve got this charming dude called Tyke exploring the wilderness, helping random climbers and ramblers with their silly little tasks, all while retracing the steps they once took with their now departed father.
While the demo preview is brief, it serves up a decent amount of heartache while Tyke looks back at his Dad’s life. To connect with those memories of a lost one, Tyke decides to venture out and reminisce, giving us impacting glimpses into the bond of father and son.
Unlocking those memories comes from exploration and collecting water drops, which you perceive as tears. The drops are scattered throughout the colourful wilds but are also given for completing tasks such as catching photographic evidence of a Bigfoot-type monster or grilling a perfect cheeseburger for a conspiracy theorist.
I just love the design of the characters here, each one looking like a little bean. Tyke’s animations are a delight, and his interactions with the world around him are often accompanied by gleeful sound effects, like a morning cartoon. It’s a world you want to spend more time in, and when the preview came to an end I felt a little pang of sadness.
The twists and turns of the woodland and base of the mountain are great for throwing up detours and scenic moments, little pockets of calm or beauty. Many areas are blocked off, only passable with the right tool like an axe for large trees, or a pickaxe for boulders. This is going to be a game that appeals to many; it has that wholesome charm - yes, you can pet the dogs - that will pull in players who want something cute, and I can imagine the emotional beats that it will hit as we explore more of the mountain on the way to its summit.
According to the game’s creator, “Pine Hearts is a warm, thoughtful game about love, life, memories, and family. It tells a story of the loss of a family member with tenderness and care.” While I was playing, I felt a wonderful sense of calm. There are lovely moments of joy that complement the quiet sadness that must permeate the situation. Smiles and frowns come in equal measure. I can’t wait to get more time in Pine Hearts when the game releases later this year - it’s currently targeting Q1. You can play a demo right now over on Steam and add it to your wishlist.