A Highland Song review

by on December 5, 2023
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Release Date

December 5, 2023


We often look to video games for escapism, and with so much choice to do so you can forget the beauty the natural world holds. I don’t live close to Scotland, and my only times visiting have been to Dumfries and Gretna Green, but I’ve always wanted to visit the peaceful and mystical depths the highlands have always offered. A Highland Song captures the beauty of Scotland, weaving a tale that feels personal yet different for every playthrough.

Trying to work out what you think you should be doing is where many players will go wrong. We expect objectives, quests, waypoints, and maps to guide us, but A Highland Song is more about exploring without knowing where to take your next step and getting lost in its magic. It helps that it’s such a gorgeous game to look at, reminding me of the way Cartoon Saloon creates such vibrant and breath-taking views through animation. The various shades of green and the backdrop of hills, the clear and serene lakes, and the wildlife that surrounds you in those fleeting moments all add to its beauty.

As a girl who’s only ever known a small amount about the highlands, you set off to meet your Uncle Hamish on the coast. In order to get there, you must explore every hill and peak, locating pathways to the next location, avoiding falling down cliffsides, and fighting off the harsh weather. It’s 2D world has plenty of paths for you to move across, with the main goal of reaching each peak to find a pathway that takes you closer to the coast. You’ll gain access to maps that can be used to locate them in the world, helping you to progress.

Along the way, you’ll start to discover more about the mythology of the Highlands, and meet people you’re never sure how they go to where they are. These can lead to some interesting conversations, and you feel Moira growing as a person with every response. There are also items scattered all over the place that can be interacted with, thanks to a small white orb highlighting a point of interest. You’ll never find everything in one playthrough, and the simple decision of whether to go left or right can change the entire adventure.

At certain points, A Highland Song introduces rhythmic sections where you press buttons to make Moira run faster, all in time with one of the tracks composed by Laurence Chapman. He’s worked with two of Scotland’s finest folk exports, Talisk and Fourth Moon, to give us songs that resonate in its more sombre times as well as those wind through the hair, running with reckless abandon moments. Whatever the song, it’s one of the game’s most appealing features, much like how music was used in Pixar’s Brave to build the work and folklore surrounding it.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for, but absolutely should have been, was for how unforgiving your journey can be. Rain pours down, winds blow fast, and the cold is blistering and dangerous. As you explore, you’ll have to take shelter in caves or various stone structures to shield yourself from the weather and regain health. With only a limited number of days to reach the coast, every rest time moves the day along from dawn to dusk, so knowing when to rest or take a risk has to be balanced if you want to reach your destination. It can be hard to not get side-tracked, but I always wanted to head off the beaten track in favour of what I might find.

A Highland Song is a special game, where exploration is its finest quality. It offers a cathartic traipse through the Scottish highlands, with a soundtrack filled with soft, poignant music and catchy jigs. It’s a joy roaming across the hills, and reaching one of the games 100 peaks is so satisfying. There is so much to find, be it someone to talk to, a selection of the game’s wildlife, or some of the mythic history you’ll uncover, I never god bored and the need to replay again hit hard. If you love films like Song of the Sea or Wolfwalkers, I can’t recommend this enough.


Beautiful visuals
Gorgeous soundtrack
Wonderful sense of freedom


Some might not like the open-ended nature

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

A Highland Song is such a beautiful game, whether you find its charm in the soundtrack, gorgeous visuals, or wonderful story.