Alto’s Adventure is a snow-boarding game at its core, but also a thoughtful, beautiful and very entertaining piece of art. The emphasis is not on extreme tricks or obnoxious music, but a smooth, simple, and addicting experience enhanced with excellent visuals and a beautiful soundtrack. Now that it is free, it’s impossible not to recommend.
The premise is this: you are Alto, a Llama herding snowboarder that lives high in the mountains. Suddenly your llamas escape (nice fence building job Alto) and it’s your job to recapture them! By…sliding past them and capturing them, just like real life. That’s definitely one of the most insane sentences I’ve ever written, but the premise is really not the point of a game like this. Alto’s Adventure is not trying to spin a compelling narrative. They’re saving that for the sequel, “Alto Finds True Love but is Forced to Confront the Nihilistic Emptiness of True Understanding When his Wife Dies in a Fire.” (iOS $2.99)
Once the gameplay starts, it’s very easy to fall into the rhythm of the deceptively simple design. Alto’s Adventure is an endless runner, meaning the levels are constantly being generated, and essentially you can play forever if your skills allow it. As you speed down the mountain you are constantly confronted with obstacles such as cliffs and rocks, and you have to jump over them by pressing the screen. You can also do tricks like flips and grinding by holding and releasing as you fly through the air. Simple stuff, but the controls work fine, and it runs great. It’s a very satisfying formula, elegant I would say, and I’ve lost a lot more of my time to this game than I would care to admit.
What really sets Alto’s adventure apart is the aesthetic design. The game is very pretty, and uses simple animation style graphics (think Journey) to create a world that is fun to explore. The time and weather changes, and as dusk falls and the sun begins to set it’s easy to miss a jump or a trick opportunity because you are busy staring at the beautiful landscape. For something as simple as a snowboarding game, the attention to detail here is remarkable. The music is also excellent, really compelling.
Check it out for yourself:
Pretty great for a snowboarding game with such a ridiculous concept.
The game used to cost $1.99, but recently went the free to play route. On the one hand I’m glad, as more people will get to experience it; on the other I’m disappointed, because the IAP is a bit excessive. Another casualty of this business model. Then again, no one is forcing anyone to spend anything.
Despite the sometimes draconian IAP, Alto’s Adventure is a great game I’d be happy to recommend to anyone. It’s simple but compelling, easy to understand but difficult to master, and has exceptional aesthetic sensibilities that are rare in a free to play game.
Now let me be as I speed down a mountain at insane speeds to capture some ungrateful llamas.