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Misty Hill Hop, April 10, 2021
I feel like there are a lot of chill, hang-out-y games in this yearís Spring Thing. I donít know if thatís a coincidence, or a result of the past year meaning that spending some low-key time with other people seems especially appealing, but Iím all in favor of it Ė Iíve beaten a lot of evil overlords in a high-stakes race against time, so sometimes itís nice to just smell the roses. This is pretty much the setup of Misty Hills, in fact: the main character has just come through an adventurous journey with only a few coins and miscellaneous possessions to their name. Thereís one final step left in their quest Ė since you just missed the funicular to take you up the hill to home, now youíve got half an hour to kill before the next one arrives.
You can definitely find some dangerous situations in Misty Hills Ė in fact you can even die, though the choices leading to those ends all but have neon signposts on them so itís pretty much an opt-in affair. But you can also spend the time just chit-chatting with some locals, browsing a merchantís wares without buying anything, or playing a dice game with the funicular operator for a few coppers. The time limit means you could even fritter away the thirty minutes taking half-hearted stabs at all of the above and not accomplishing much of anything before itís time to run to the funicular.
While I usually find timers irritating, this one I didnít mind it at all, since itís integral to establishing the proper way to play: Misty Hills isnít a game where youíre trying to optimize a complex series of tasks or beat the clock, but, as the authorís note says, youíre basically playing someone waiting for the bus. Iíve often been in that situation myself (is it weird that public transit is one of the things Iíve missed most during the pandemic?), and it definitely rings true that if you have one positive exchange with someone else, or notice one neat thing in the neighborhood, thatís more than enough to have gotten out of the experience.
This isnít to say that the different diversions on offer arenít interesting. I really enjoyed figuring out what was going on with the merchant and experimenting with the various items you can buy, learning a bit more about the funicular operatorís philosophy and backstory, and taking my tea a bunch of different ways, to say nothing of the more game-y exploits of exploring the well and the magic forest Ė the gambling game I thought was a little too random to be as enjoyable, but oh well, thatís how I feel about most gambling in real life too. There are a number of different interactions to discover, depending on the order you visit the different areas and what, if anything, youíve gotten in your inventory. There are some typos, and I found a few small bugs (sometimes the game lost track of how much money I had, and one time after I restarted, it seemed to remember my previous interactions with some of the options in the well) but none of itís especially goal-oriented: my biggest accomplishment was being adopted by a cat, which is actually a pretty big deal!
That was the only thing I did that I noticed changing the ending text Ė and that only slightly, because of course the story always ends in the same place, with the main character riding the funicular up the hill. But thatís all right Ė this was just a stop along the way, an opportunity to kill some time and maybe create one or two small memories to bring home.