Nth Dimensional Hiking

Nth Dimensional Hiking screenshot

First Impressions: I’ve never had a game make me feel so stupid in just fifteen minutes. Nth Dimensional Hiking didn't actually make me feel stupid, but it’s immediately clear that I’m missing something major when, in fifteen minutes, I can’t get any further than the platform that is the starting point.

I did make some progress, at least. I figured out how to move (which was clear from the “instructions” at the beginning). After about eight minutes, I figured out how the “action menu” worked, although I’m not exactly sure what some of the “actions” are. As far as I can tell, there’s one action that turns your hat (head?) into a propeller of sorts, but all I can do with that is fall slower than I would without it, rather than actually ascend. Another action lets me shoot a ghostball. Shooting things didn't help me off the platform. Another action makes some sort of light pole. I suppose that might be helpful if I ever get off the platform, as the place looks pretty dark. Another action lets me look in different directions and slightly zoom in.

I’m going to give it another go, but if, after another 15 minutes, I can’t fly off the platform, I’ll be glad that I didn't have to pay for the game.

 

Going Further: Going further is a slight exaggeration. I did, technically, finish the game—screen fades to black, “Thanks for playing” appeared on the screen.

The platform that you start on looks like a bus stop. There’s a covered bench and a light pole on the platform. This time I noticed that there’s a bus leaving just as the game begins (or maybe I just happened to be there at the right time on this playthrough). After jumping off the platform with my spinning helicopter hat for the nth time (the hat also turns into a jet-powered paper airplane, which allows you to go forwards faster, but still slowly descend), I started playing around with the light poles. I somehow managed to shoot one into the ground at a slight angle and was able to walk up it slightly. I thought maybe that was the secret to getting to the next platform, but I couldn't figure out how to control the vertical angle that I shoot it.

NDH looks like an interesting game. It is minimalist; it looks like there are only four colors: black, white, red, and cyan; it’s completely nonverbal; there’s no music, only occasional sound effects and an ongoing mumbled rumbling. I read an interview with the creator of the game (hoping for some clue as to what I should be doing, to no avail), and I get what he was trying to do. The game subverts the player’s expectations of how a game works; the next step isn't carefully laid out, it’s left to the player to discover.

If you like moody atmospherics and a challenge, then I’d recommend NDH. Hopefully, you’re smarter than I am and can figure out how to get off the bus platform and see the rest of the game. Or, you can do what I did to “win” the game: hop on the next bus that came by.

Platform
Reviewed by
Wesley Benica