A Highland Song Beginner’s Tips and Tricks

Tips, tricks, and a few things I did not find obvious about playing the game.

Don’t worry about the deadline

The game is designed to be played multiple times – you can only explore a tiny fraction of the world in one go. You remember your maps and shortcuts on future runs, so getting to the lighthouse in time for Beltane is much easier on a second (or fifth) play-through. Just relax and explore the first time, Hamish will be happy to see you no matter when you get there.

Don’t worry too much about the weather

The weather has an effect on your health, but honestly not a huge one, and you will get super bored if you try to wait out the rain every time. There are a few places where a route is too dangerous to walk on in the rain and you’ll have to either go another way or wait it out, but most of the time you can just keep doing your thing while getting soaked. Moira’s Scottish, she can handle getting wet. 🙂

Sprinting tips

First of all: the sprint button is to initiate the sprint sections. It does nothing when you are just platforming, there isn’t a run faster mode. So if you’re using a controller and are annoyed that the run button is placed where you have to break a finger to jump at the same time, that’s why, you’re not supposed to.

If you see a deer hanging around, it is standing in an area you can sprint from. Just go walk up to the deer and keep walking with it until you get the prompt to sprint.

Once you have started a sprint, you don’t have to keep pressing the button, and actually you don’t even have to hold down the direction key, Moira will keep going on her own. The only thing you need to do is hit your jump buttons (or button if you chose that accessibility option – I did, I want to enjoy the music!) while you’re sprinting.

You can stop partway through a sprint if you want! Just press the direction opposite to where she’s running and it’ll stop. Usually there’s no point, but there’s at least one map you can only get to by doing this partway through a run so you can drop down to it. If you do this by accident, no problem, just start going in the original direction again and you’ll get the prompt to start sprinting.

How to not die (but also dying’s not that bad)

If you die (deplete your health to zero, usually by falling off something,) you don’t actually die. You will reappear, either instantly quite near where you died and get to try again, or sometimes you’ll appear somewhere farther away, either in a section a bit before the area you’re in, or sometimes quite a ways away with a surprise NPC interaction. If you’re a badass platformer who never dies, you might want to try it on purpose a few times to unlock these!

But back to not dying. Keep an eye on your health, obviously, and be careful about falling off cliffs. Try to sleep in sheltered areas. An indoor spot is best and can sometimes increase your maximum health. Sleeping outdoors will decrease it for the next day, and sleeping outdoors and in an unsheltered area (like if you keep going into the night until you finally just pass out) will dramatically lower your health.

Falling off cliffs: if you are climbing down a steep part and start to slip, try mashing the jump button; sometimes you can slow your fall down enough to take less or even no damage from the landing. If you’re sliding fast down a loose rock area, sometimes pressing the opposite direction will slow your roll a bit. Finally, try jumping off things instead of dropping off them – usually you land lighter on your feet.

Later in the game when you get around to blessing peaks, resting in an area that is blessed will let your health heal up past your maximum, if you max is lowered from previous shenanigans.

What am I supposed to do with this map

Maps are a bit fussy to confirm! Even if you have identified the spot for sure and are standing in it and look in your journal at it, you might not get the prompt to confirm the location, which can mean not accessing the item in the location. Grrr!

What you want to do is go to a peak, and then pinpoint a spot on the map, and THEN go to the place. Now when you get to the glowing spot you marked, you will be prompted to confirm (or reject if you got it wrong) the map, and any item at the spot is now unlocked. If this would involve a lot of backtracking, maybe just save that map for your next playthrough and move on.

When you’re on a peak, the maps you get to choose from will be pared down from your full list to exclude places you’ve already gone past – but that doesn’t mean all of them are visible from this peak. Don’t waste too much time agonizing over where the heck the map is, it might just not be anywhere near here. There are a lot of maps that soooooooort of look like other places until you encounter the actual place later on, somewhere completely different. If you don’t immediately spot it, shrug and move on.

If you can’t identify any of your maps at all, don’t panic! There’s always at least one way forward that doesn’t require a map, just go back and forth a bit looking for those little shiny dots that indicate something of interest.

If your map spot is a cave, you might need to open your journal inside the cave to be prompted to confirm the map. The interface can be really picky about where you stand to check a map, so try a few times to open your journal in slightly different spots and you might succeed even if the first time nothing happened.

Rest everywhere at least once

Even if you’re at full health, if you spot a place to rest, rest for a second. Sometimes this unlocks an item or a new map.

Pick up everything

Even junk, even if Moira says “I don’t need a _itemname_” – usually it will have a map inside, or turn out to be useful later on for blessing peaks. If you miss picking something up, or lose it, don’t panic, you can go back to the same spot and get it again next playthrough. But sometimes the place you use the item and the place you find it are way, way far apart, so might as well just grab everything. You keep things on your next playthrough, so a little shopping on one run can pay off much later. (Oddly Moira doesn’t question why she suddenly has a crowbar in her pocket on the next life…)

The only object you can put on cairns are stones, so pick up small stones whenever you get the chance. There are a few places with piles of them, and also a few places where Moira can skip stones across water. If you stop to skip a stone, a stone will be added to her inventory (even if you skip it, I guess she picks up another one) if you don’t have one on hand already.

Confirming and blessing peaks

Let’s fill up that peak list in the journal! Peaks will be greyed out if you’ve never seen them. They will appear in bright colour once you’ve climbed them once. They will have a question mark after the name until you confirm their identity. They will develop a glowing yellow halo after you bless them with the correct offering.

Guessing the name: even if you don’t know for sure because you don’t have a map that matches, guess a name. Sometimes Moira will “remember” that Uncle Hamish sent her an article or a map about that name.

Confirming the name: you need to have a map that includes the peak. If you confirm the map, ie find the marked spot and go there and confirm the location, the peak will show up as identified in your list. You can also confirm the peak name without necessarily solving the map; when you’re looking out from a peak, you can choose “This peak?” to identify the area the map refers to, even if you can’t pin down where the path / X / marking / whatever on the map is, or if it’s blocked from view. Moira will usually say “that must be X peak, then” or something.

Blessing peaks: each peak has one item that you can leave on it that will bless it. If you leave the correct item, you’ll get a segment of the fisherman’s story, the rain will stop, and a light will shine from the sky on the peak. If you rest in the area now, you will get more health. Sometimes this will trigger a plot event that moves you somewhere else. Leave the item there! If you take it back, it gets unblessed, it starts raining again, and presumably Queen Morag is hella disappointed in you. Most peaks you can just set random stuff down and pick it up again to check, but there are a few places where you lose the items – usually this is clear because you’re throwing them down a hole. If you drop the wrong thing down the hole, oh well, you’ll have to go find it again in its original place on a future playthrough, it’s just gone now. (However, there are some useful items you can pick up in multiple places, like the dagger I think.)

What item to choose? Usually it’s something related to the name of the peak, or Uncle Hamish will give you a clue in one of his random stories. Sometimes the connection is pretty mysterious, though. If you have the correct item in your inventory, it will be one of the options you are presented with on the first try, so give those three items a try if you have no clue, but don’t bother with new items added on subsequent guesses, they won’t be right. If you have it, it will be on the first list you get. There are several peaks where it’s either impossible or incredibly annoying to collect the item and go to the right peak in the same playthrough, so don’t stress if you don’t have it, just keep picking everything up and try again with your bigger inventory next time you pass by.

Climbing tips and Look Further mode

If you’re about to climb a big cliff, rest fully first. So sit down and rest to recover your maximum health, and also make sure Moira’s not out of breath – stand still, and she’ll rest her hands on her knees if she is, and she will stand up straight again when she’s fully rested.

While climbing, mash the jump button! In most games this would speed you up but cost more stamina, but here it is actually a useful shortcut, jumping while you climb can get you higher than you can get by just steadily climbing.

If you can’t get to the top of the cliff even with jumping, there might be a different route you need to take. Do “look around” and “look further” to zoom out and check the area out. In the look further mode, climbable surfaces are yellow, unclimbable slippery slopes are red. You might spot some stepping stones or another hill you can jump to halfway or something.

If your health is suuuuuper low that can limit some climbs, but usually you can make it to the top of a given cliff even with low health as long as you’re rested. If you’re not sure if that’s the problem, leap to your death to get a do-over with better health. XD (Usually! Sometimes you get surprise teleported to an NPC encounter somewhere else. Which is great if you accidentally got stuck, but can be confusing as heck.)

Hassle the goshawks

If you spot a goshawk, go bother it! Climb up to its perch, walk up to it, throw a stone at it, just reach it somehow. This will reward you with some delicious plot exposition.

This guide about A Highland Song was written by brookeoclock. You can visit the original publication from this link. If you have any concerns about this guide, please don't hesitate to reach us here.

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