Pine Hearts – PC Review

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Explore the great outdoors and discover all the secrets in this small caravan park in Pine Hearts, developed by Hyper Luminal Games and published by Little Nook. This wholesome exploration and Metroidvania-lite title was released on May 24th, 2024, and is available on Steam and Nintendo Switch for £15.99.

The opening scene in Pine Hearts. You can see the main character, Tyke, in a red hat, blue shirt and brown pants. They are sititng in a busy train carriage. In the distance, you can see see a large mountain.
And so our journey begins…

Pine Hearts and Heart Strings

At first glance, Pine Hearts is a cozy, hiking game where you meet various characters and explore different locations to achieve a personal goal. It is also a tale about grief and honoring the memory of loved ones through you. If you are going through a period of grief, this may bring out strong feelings. If readers feel like they can share their experiences,  I would love to know if a game has ever helped you cope with grief.


The story of Pine Hearts begins on a cloudy day in a train carriage. You meet Tyke, the main character who is flipping through a journal of various maps of mountains that seem to have been achieved, except for one, which is where the journey begins.

Without any major spoilers of dialogue or the story, the main goal of the game is to reach the summit of the mountain of this small, caravan park. However, Tyke does not have all the necessary skills to accomplish this task so they have to rely on NPC’s to give out tools in exchange for completing quests and learn more difficult traversing techniques by collecting memory drops/tears. Once Tyke collects enough drops, they unlock a memory that relates to a specific skill needed to go to another area. There are 5 memories to unlock and it takes some time to unlock them as you need a certain amount of drops, which can take time to gather. Players are encouraged to explore, collect more drops, and complete quests. Drops are found scattered around the caravan park, interacting with items, and completing quests.

The quests logged in the journal are the main storyline, but there is an abundance of sidequests that do not get logged and will require players to remember to go back to or to note them down. Having a tab with the side quests would be helpful to players, as they unlock several Steam achievements, but it is not a big deterrent and just reiterates the need to explore.

A screenshot from the game Pine Hearts. You can see the main character Tyke, taking a seat on a bench and nejoying the view of the caravan park. There is a river, an abundance of trees and in the background you can see the gates to the mountain in Pine Hearts
Taking in the view

Something that is done well is the narrative writing but also the visual storytelling. All of the interactable NPCs have unique dialogue and some offer secret quests, but even the characters you can’t interact with have visual clues as to what they are up to and how they are spending their holiday. It’s a lovely detail and is an insight into all the types of families and friends that exist in this world.

There is a separate tab in the settings purely dedicated to accessibility, which is fantastic. The only other game I’ve seen do it this well is The Last of Us Part Two. The menu allows players to adjust quite a few settings to ensure that they can enjoy the game according to their needs. Some of the settings include adjusting the gameplay and switching from Simplified or Default controls, UI support, and visual support.

One issue faced was the map and the limited worldview. The map is illustrated well, with various landmarks included. It does inform the player where they are in terms of the general area, but it does not feel detailed enough compared to how large the world is. I would have loved more details included or perhaps a mini-map, as a lot of quests have you going back and forth, which resulted in trying to remember my way back rather than enjoying the exploration and journey. In regards to the worldview, I found myself wishing there was a zoom-out button as the world feels larger than life, but would often result in going the wrong way.

A screenshot from the game Pine Hearts. You can see the main character sitting on a bench, in a dark and gloomy forest. You can see tiny red mushrooms, fog and a bridge leading to a ruined castle.
Having a rest after trekking to the ruined castle.

Graphics & Audio

For this review, Pine Hearts was played on PC via Steam and performed well without any frame rate issues or graphical glitches.  When selecting the game mode, I chose the Default Controls, and this option worked well with both a controller and a mouse and keyboard, but using a controller was the most comfortable experience. The Default Controls were fun to use, as the inputs simulated the action, such as the shovel tool, and added a bit of challenge.

The art style is gorgeous with bold outlines and bright colors, perfectly fitting the genre of the game. Every corner of the levels is detailed and looks lived-in, with details of families, friends, and children having a memorable summer in the small caravan park. The soundtrack and special effects were fantastic, as the score and lighting adjusted to the area the character was currently in, whether Tyke visited the beach or the ruined castle. Another great detail included was depending on what surface Tyke walked on, the sound would change to reflect that material, which is a nice touch.

A screenshot of the game Pine Hearts. You can see the main character leaning down to pet the dog, Bonnie.
You can pet the dog, Bonnie. 10/10


For this review, I managed to get halfway through the game, with 3 hours in and unlocked 3 out of the 5 memories. Even after 3 hours in, there are still quite a few areas to explore and side quests to complete. There are also 37 Steam achievements to unlock and I’ve only achieved about 60% of them. It feels like a fully fleshed-out game, where the developers made every part of the world important and had a reason to be included. Though the story can only be enjoyed once, players are encouraged to go back and try to perfect the game by grabbing all the Steam achievements, which will most likely take 5-6 hours from start to finish to complete depending on your playstyle.

Final Thoughts

Pine Hearts is easily in my top 10 indie games of 2024. There could be some additions to make the game more comfortable in terms of traversing the world, such as a more detailed map and fixing the limited view, it is still a fantastic journey that’s well-written and extremely detailed in the world-building. There are a few puzzles in the game, that are not overly difficult but still engaging. It’s apparent that a lot of love and thought went into this game. Several games bring out an emotional response to different people for different reasons, and this is one of them. It’s a game about going out of your comfort zone and healing from grief in a caring and tender way, allowing the memories of loved ones to live on through you and your accomplishments. Pine Hearts gets a Thumb Culture Platinum Award as it is a fantastic game and fans of heartfelt, cozy exploration games would not want to miss out on the small, but big journey of Tyke. I would say this is an essential buy for fans of this genre if the cost of £15.99 fits into your budget.

If you enjoyed reading this review and want to check out another adorable game about exploration, check out Olivia’s review for Little Kitty, Big City!


Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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