Lonely Mountains: Downhill has been on my radar for the last few years. Its bright, minimalistic art style and images of little paper-doll like men jumping over chasms and travelling through serene environments at high speed was hard to get out of my mind. Strange too, because Lonely Mountains: Downhill isn’t exactly the type of game I usually play.
The “downhill” part of Lonely Mountains: Downhill is probably the most apt descriptor in the title. I mean, biking downhill is what it’s all about. Played from a fixed perspective, your goal is to get down the mountain–usually as quickly as possible with as few crashes as you can manage. And doing so is easier said than done, naturally. All of this takes place on beautiful, serene mountain vistas that dare you to stare at them—as you careen off of a cliff, or violently end your run.
When I say “violently” there isn’t really gore, but the physics engine makes it feel particularly devastating at times. Other times, however, your rider seems to fail a run at the slightest bump. It is certainly a joy to play, though. Skidding out on corners, pushing through mud, and jumping the crests of hills all feel like they should.
The camera angle might be a bit of a bummer for some, though. As I mentioned before, it’s facing a fixed position. This took some getting used to. The controls allow you to either turn based on which direction the rider is facing, or which direction you wanted the rider to go. I thought I’d like the latter, but I ended up using the former. I did struggle with the controls initially, but once they clicked, I was sailing down mountains with ease.
Each trail has a clearly marked path you can take. But some of the best fun is have venturing off of the beaten path. Finding a shortcut, or even just a new avenue is some of the best fun to be had in Lonely Mountains: Downhill. There is joy in finding the best course or taking a reckless jump and landing it. It’s the best.
Cutting time off your run is essential if you want to experience more of the game. There is a sense of serenity, even while at high velocity, that Lonely Mountains: Downhill invokes. There are several different mountains to ride on, each with their own aesthetics and challenges—and trails to master. Yet, to get to more mountains, and also to unlock more trails, you have to be able to complete harder and harder challenges.
I don’t mind challenge and progression in games. But man, I would love to be able to just choose what trails and mountains to ride on, at my pace. If there was a cheat code to unlock every course in Lonely Mountains: Downhill I think I would’ve used it early just to see what all there was to see—and explore each mountain at my own pace.
But the 16 trails to unlock, almost 200 challenges, various paintjobs (among other customization options) and other goals will have completionists busy for a while. There’s a ton to shoot for, with a high skill ceiling.
Lone Mountains: Downhill is something that I will probably be returning to regularly. It has a wonderfully minimalistic art style coupled with a great physics-driven downhill biking experience that is fun and challenging. There is always a new path to find, or new challenges to best.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is available now on Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4
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