Lonely Mountains: DownhillSwitch¦ Platform
After being cocooned in our micro worlds for so long, there’s now encouragement from the powers that be, to venture outside, maybe do a little more exercise. One of the preferred choices of getting about is cycling.
This new game is the perfect re-introduction for those a little weary still about the outside world. It allows you to venture out on a bike, into the fresh air, without all the faff that can now come from being outside.
Firstly, it ticks one big box – self isolation. You are at the top of a mountain, on your trusted metal steed, a simple yet perfectly adequate push bike. Your mission is to simply get to the bottom in one piece. There are no tricks to pull, no boulders chasing you down the mountain, just an almost meditative ride in the glorious outdoors.
Although there’s one almost always obvious path to follow, a single lane dirt track, there are shortcuts that you will need to hunt and down and master if you want to go deep into this one.
The first challenge is a relatively easy one: get to the bottom. There is no time limit, although a clock is running, and you can crash as many times as you like, which may be a fair few times. It’s best to just take your time, and enjoy the ride. The controls are simple enough: steer, accelerate and brake. You will also need a speed boost from time to time, as there are a number of jumps to perform. They aren’t exactly stunt manoeuvres, but the landings need to be pretty accurate, otherwise a crash is a certainty.
To aid your descent, the trail is broken up into stages, so when you do crash, you start back at the beginning of the last stage you completed. The journey is quite a relaxing one, if you put all the crashing to one side for a bit. This outdoor world contains beautifully serene surroundings, full of trees, running water, with birds and butterflies on a breeze around you. It’s a rather pleasing experience, to begin with at least, as you connect with nature in a truly solitary fashion.
Once you have reached the bottom, it opens up a few new challenges for you. The most important one, initially, are the ones concerning other trails and mountains to open up. The mountain one is probably the most achievable, as it gives you a set number of crashes to complete a trail run in. This gives you a little room for error, and certainly during the early stages at least, won’t be too daunting.
When it comes to controlling the bike, there are two methods: left and right, or all directions. We got on far better with all directions, particularly using the Pro controller, as at times, especially taking sharp corners, it felt like a really smooth ride.
The way you ride is also pleasing. It’s a little like the old skiing titles, as you manoeuvre your character down the mountain side, with some rather clever use of the camera. There are times when your rider is hidden by the scenery, but never enough to really panic, as you weave in and out down the hillside.
The one gripe would be the one concerning the unlocking of parts to get other bikes. To gain parts, the challenge involves timed challenges, which really are quite challenging. To have any chance of hitting the target, you will have to explore the mountain to some degree, and then really go hell for leather to reach it. At one point, after discovering a few short cuts on one trail, we thought we were in with a genuine chance to get a bike part, only to find that once we’d crossed the finishing line, we were still about one minute off the target. So to get near any of them is going to take some serious time and dedication.
It’s slightly disappointing that there’s no other way of opening up these useful extras as it is likely to put off the casual gamer, which is a real shame as it’s such an attractive, playable, vibrant title. Considering the game encourages you to go off and discover parts of the mountain, it’s sad it makes you work so very hard to do so.
That aside, Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a beautifully presented landscape, allowing you to enjoy a solitary ride in nature making a truly joyful experience.
And any game that brings the outdoors in, so you don’t have to venture outside, definitely rings our bell.