A new video game is inviting people to embark on an outdoor adventure through the Scottish Highlands - and uncover its secrets and stories along the way. 

A Highland Song is a narrative adventure game which tells the story of a teenager named Moira McKinnon, who has seven days to cross the Highlands to reach her Uncle Hamish’s lighthouse by the sea in time for a magical surprise that awaits. 

Developed by award-winning UK-based indie developed inkle, A Highland Song is described as ‘part survival adventure, part platformer, and part rhythm game with a surprising, sprawling story that weaves into every decision you make’. 

The 2.5D side-scrolling adventure brings the Highlands to life with a blend of hand-drawn animation, impressionistic painted scenery, and dynamic lighting/weather effects.

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Described as ‘rhythmically adventurous’, players climb peaks and crisscross glens in time to a soundtrack composed by multi-award-winning Scottish folk bands Talisk and Fourth Moon. 

Ahead of its release on the Nintendo Switch console on December 5, the game’s creative director Joe Humfrey revealed that the game is “unlike anything” that inkle has made before and was inspired by his own adventures in the Highlands as a youth.

He told The Herald: "I grew up in Fife and I had an amazing schoolteacher who used to take the kids up to the Highlands to go camping and go hillwalking at the weekends and I absolutely loved the experience. In fact, the survival elements of the game were inspired by foolish exploits as a teenager going up into the Highlands with my friends. 

“There was one particular occasion where we got very lost and had to be rescued by a deer stalker and he drove us over multiple hills in the Highlands almost to our start point. It was getting really late and really dark and we had to find our way back down the mountain in the pitch black stumbling through bogs not being sure whether we would find our way back but obviously we did make it back in the end. It did have quite a strong impact on me.”

Joe conceded that inkle “haven’t replicated all of the Cairngorms and Glencoe or everything”, with the narrative adventure instead taking place in a “kind of fictionalised version of the Highlands”. 

He added: “It’s our own kind of fictional take on it so that we can construct it in a way that suits the structure of the game. 

“But broadly speaking it’s trying to capture the feeling of the foothills north of Dundee and going up high into the Highlands and then coming down more towards the Western Isles on the west coast, so you get that kind of different types of scenery that you’d see in the Scottish Highlands. 

“It features a lot of climbing, exploration and survival. 

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“One of the core kind of crescendos or high points in the game are these set pieces where you run in time to a modern take on Scottish folk music, where the landscape basically forms itself around the rhythm of the music so you have to jump in time to the music.”

Speaking of the soundtrack, Joe, who has been living south of the border since he started university, said it was partly borne out of “feeling a bit homesick” alongside his discovery of modern Scottish folk bands such as Talisk.

He said: “As a kid I had the experience of doing Scottish country dancing and stuff at school, which I hated, along with that old-fashioned style Scottish country music. I was completely unaware that there’s this kind of more modern version that’s young and energetic and has got incredible rhythms, but also that it’s still harking back to kind of more traditional music. 

“It’s got that incredible tone to go with it that suits the theme of the game perfectly. I personally got massively into that genre of music once I discovered it and I thought that blend of the Highlands and the imagery that I fell in love with as a child mixed with this incredible music genre would be fantastic when they work together.” 

The Herald: A Highland Song launches on Nintendo Switch next monthA Highland Song launches on Nintendo Switch next month (Image: Inkle Studio)

The first inkle game to feature a ‘jump’ button, Joe feels A Highland Song might have a broader appeal for people who like “more traditional game mechanics” as opposed to the “pure narrative-based mechanics” that previous games inkle has developed.

Although he appreciates the game might have an increased appeal with those who may have ties to Scotland, he believes A Highland Song will have a wider appeal than just to Scottish people. 

He said: “Obviously there’s the connection with Scotland that’s going to be great for Scots or British people, as well as a certain American audience that have ties back to Scotland and look at Scotland in a fond way. But we are not aiming to sell the game based on its Scottish roots necessarily. I think it evokes a really beautiful tone but you don’t have to be super into Scotland to enjoy that.”

A Highland Song launches on Nintendo Switch on December 5.