Games that capture the feeling of finding something weird when out bushwalking

This is an incredibly specific feeling that I hope resonates with other people.

So say you're out bushwalking, it's a relatively calm and meditative experience for the most part, you sort of just get into the rhythm of walking, enjoying the scenery, following the path, etc, and then you see something unexpected that snaps you out of whatever train of thought you were in and completely draws your focus. Maybe it's a weird insect, or some other wildlife you wouldn't normally see, or an odd formation in the landscape, or a cool mushroom. It momentarily catches your attention as something natural to it's environment, but completely unexpected and interrupting to your experience, but not in any way that's unpleasant.

I was thinking of examples of this in videogames.
The examples I can think of are:
-finding a cactus when golfing in desert golfing
-finding a shiny Pokemon when you're just mashing
you're way through wild encounters in Pokemon (if
you didn't know what shinies are)

Rewards from exploring in games are excluded because if I go into a secret area, of course I expect to find something for my troubles. Most Easter eggs are excluded because they don't feel 'canon'; even under the assumption that everything is put in a game deliberately, if something feels like it's there for the sake of it it doesn't count. Ideally it will be a moment that interrupts your attention and frame of mind, in a good way, and in a way that you could not have expected because your mind was on other things at the time. The rare reload animations in battlefield are very on the fence for me, because while they do evoke the same feeling they are also very tonally jarring.

A rare piece of gear might count if it completely changes the dynamic of how the game plays in a way you wouldn't have expected, but I can't think of any examples.

I feel like the first time I played Journey and worked out I was playing with other people really captured this feeling. It was so unexpected, I literally thought the game was just a meditative solo experience and that was what I was geared up for.

@Wooben#3318 when i stumbled upon the first cactus in desert golfing, i loved it so much. something about how small it is on the screen was so funny to me after playing a ton of similar looking holes that i started audibly laughing in public when i saw it. it's great.

without getting too spoilery, i would say that the "point" of The Witness is to lead players to have one of this type of experience that they'll discover on their own, to the point where the game is okay with you missing it entirely. it's trying to both be meditative and distracting at the same time, but the game rewards your focus with a moment like what you've talked about. that might just be me making a stretch though!

driving off of the map in any of the trackmania games

Would it be accurate to say the american english equivalent word to bushwalking would be hiking?

I think you get a lot of this sort of thing in Katamari Damacy, just somebody off to the side flipping around in the pool by themselves.

Another one for me, though it's not in a contemplative genre (well, depending on your disposition and if you go into a meditative state while playing them) is when you shoot a blank area in an STG and wind up revealing a bonus. Fairies, or the little pinwheels and Side Arms characters in Capcom games, etc. here's an example of that in Strider 2:

Strider 2 rules.

I remember being amazed Capcom managed to release the game with the labels messed up.

Shouldn‘t there be some sort of process that makes sure that doesn’t happen? Seems there wasn't.


In the first level of Stellar 7 I was just sliding along blowing up tanks when I came across big yellow obelisks.
It would turn out they'd be important, but I didn't realize that at the time, and I had that intrigued and mesmerized feeling you described. I don't think that was the creators intent, though they did obviously intend for you to notice them.

Stellar 7…

That's a name I havnt heard in a loooooong tome

If I‘m understanding your prompt correctly, Outer Wilds is mostly about that. Captures a feeling of genuine surprise/discovery in a way most other games don’t.

confused about what exactly bushwhacking is…

All of breath of the wild is this for me. I love exploring the landscape in that game just because. It‘s all so wonderfully crafted and things will just catch my eye and I can’t help but go poke around.

@milo#14899 BotW doesn‘t get credited much for the animal crossing vibes it added to the formula. A lot of the fun in the first game is exploring your huge forest and coming upon a rare item, buried, falling from a tree, washing ashore or from a balloon!

I’m discounting newer games in the series because these elements of surprise have only been watered down over time.

I‘ll second BOTW–unlike many open world games I’ve played (I'm looking at you, Horizon: Zero Dawn) much of the joy of the game for me was stumbling upon new and wondrous landscape formations. There was also a sense of verticality to the world that makes landscapes in other games seem so flat and monotonous. After spending enough time in BOTW Hyrule I feel like I could have been randomly dropped anywhere on the map and instantly known roughly where I was. Contrast that with H:ZD…it looked gorgeous, but there was just so little character to any given part of the map.

Fallout 3/NV/4 would also be an ideal example of a "bushwalking" sim for me. I totally get the criticisms of the narrative parts of these games, but Bethesda really nailed the appeal of just picking a random direction, holding up, and seeing what fate had in store.


Will also add that the original animal crossing was a 2.5D Zelda sandbox. But does 2D Zelda simulate bushwalking? Not really except for when you find secret seashells. not a prominently displayed thing