If you’ve ever participated in an ATV race on YouTube, you know that you’re usually attracted to the show and sit on the edge of your seat all the time hoping that the rider doesn’t bump into any rock and fly off a cliff while looking through your GoPro. Mountain bike movements are wild and intense. It’s also mega-hazardous, so for those of us who prefer to sit firmly on the couch while experiencing the thrill of the sport, the Lonely Mountains: The changeover to the euro seems to be a simple solution. But can the game really capture the excitement of the sport, or will it be more of a Sunday tandem tour of the city?
Lonely mountains: Below (I call it short LMD), you travel in the fictional areas of Lonely Mountain. The four mountainous areas you can play in the game are inspired by real places like the Sierra Rivera, similar to the Hangover Path in Sedona, Arizona. You start the game on the Graterhorn, which is clearly inspired by the Matterhorn ridge in the Alps, only with the starting bike and the most elementary tutorials, which teach you how to move and ride.
LMD immediately shines with its gameplay and presentation of the sport. You start at the top of the course, your only goal is to reach the finish somewhere. The only thing you have to reserve is that you have to pass several checkpoints and if you miss one, you won’t be able to reach the finish line. It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? I’m sure it would be a piece of cake!
Once you start zooming, there is usually a well-traced path that you can follow. Passing this road is like a predictable Sunday hike, but even these roads become intense and difficult to drive during the journey. What makes the LMD infinitely fun is the fact that you can find your own secret paths down thanks to the half-open and slightly freer shapes of the paths. It’s not a completely open world experience, but you’ll find that there are many partially cut out tracks, labels or variations to make it work. Of course, remembering the path and learning the shortest routes is essential for success.
Riding a mountain bike is a great feeling, and thanks to the release mechanism you can buy a total of six bikes, each with a different level of stability, durability and overall control. Since control and navigation in risky games is absolutely the key to your success in this game, there are two control methods available to you: left/right or omni-directional on-screen control. I chose the latter because it most resembled a game with isometric underground tracks, which I personally felt comfortable with.
There is a fairly aggressive and sensitive physical system in the game, but I thought it fitted in well with what you can expect when you play this sport in the arcade. It takes a bit of experimentation to understand what your rider and bike can handle, and even then it can sometimes be unpredictable. I would have managed to slide on a rock, but after a few moments I fell off the ATV because I accidentally cut the side of a small rock. Sometimes I was struck by a hilarious mistake, and I was just as excited because I felt guilty at the slightest misstep. In fact, I still think that’s exactly what I’ve seen in sports and I appreciate the physical system they’ve developed here. However, there is a thin line between a biffing run because of the obvious mistake you made and a game that you seem to have broken because of something so small that it was almost impossible to notice.
LMD takes this intense gameplay and integrates it into a progressively unlockable system that I think has changed the whole dynamics of the game for even whiter fists. When you land on the mountain, you have four paths, but only the first one is open. Each track is then divided into four Third Party Challenge levels. The first one, called Explorer, is the only task where you have to cross the finish line. As soon as this is completed, we will unlock the beginner’s call group. It may be that you have to cross the finish line within a certain time, or that you just have to make a number of falls, and so on. The next level is Expert, and these are serious and aggressive challenges. When I said earlier that learning the job is crucial, you should bring your A-game here. To get the best time, you need to master speed and efficiency and learn the best guides to ensure you can meet these intense time requirements. I found that with the bikes at my disposal, I quickly overcame all the difficulties associated with expert tasks.
It not only opens up new roads and mountains, but can also reward you with cosmetics such as bicycle colours and bicycle clothing. With a few problems you can also unlock part of your bike. This is essentially the currency for buying new bikes and is usually difficult to win in the game. I really enjoyed the fact that I saved up enough money to buy a new mountain bike, that I would have gone back to the old routes to try to do some open tasks that I couldn’t do before.
However, just when you think you’ve mastered the course, the last call level on the course is called Free Rider and is similar to Explorer, it just asks you to finish the course and reach the finish line. This way you open a night mode that allows you to perform a new set of tasks, but in the dark you can only drive on the track with a headlight at the front of the engine. If you thought the path was difficult, it seemed crazy about some of the later mountains! However, I have encountered some graphical errors in this mode, so I hope they will be corrected later.
The last point that the LMD emphasizes is that the game is presented in a very lively political-media style. At first I hesitated to believe it would work, given the subtle movements you have to make when going up a mountain slope, but it works! And it works perfectly. The four mountains of the game have a unique, luminous and contrasting color palette. The politico-military style is just as well developed in the area, and it is one of the few games that uses this artistic style very well without making itself cheap. The sound of the game is clean and fine, and the splinters and stripes of my tires crushing the earth or the gravel were a great joy that never surprised the audience.
LMD is an intense game, and of course it’s a game that lets you block those levers when you tackle fast tracks and jump over rocky cracks. The challenge is similar to that of the tests, but has more to do with a free-flowing mountain slope than with a linear plane. I really liked the fact that if you want to make a trip without disappointment for fun, you can just ride the track cheerfully without worrying, but if you want this cute new outfit where you have to cross the track in just over a minute, you have to be predictable, precise and have your soul with you. Few games allow players to enjoy the game in such a dynamic form as the Lonely Mountains : Not only does the drop achieve this goal, but it also makes me long for a DLC in the form of a Megavalanche Snow Run. Maybe some AI opponents should shake more to make the game a little less lonely?
Lonely mountains: Examination of departure
- Graphs – 8/10
- Noise – 7.5/10
- The gameplay is 8/10.
- Late appeal – 7/10
Final remarks : GROSS
Lonely mountains: The descent captures the intensity of mountain biking in a clean, clear and accessible way that I thought was impossible. With semi-open paths for players to cut their own path, and events going down a mountain to beat the time limit, there’s a lot of intense fun to have at a very affordable price of $19.99.
Alex has been actively involved in games since the release of Nintendo. After turning his hobby into a profession, he spent just over ten years developing games and is now creative director of the studio.
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