Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a downhill mountain biking game which was born out of a successful 2017 Kickstarter campaign. Inspired by Scottish cyclist Danny MacAskill and Belgian mountain bike trials cyclist Kenny Belaey, the game’s main goal is to race down the mountain and reach various checkpoints on your way to the finish line. Accidents happen, but obviously you need to avoid them as much as possible.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill has a very simple control scheme: RT to accelerate, LT to brake and A to sprint as you use the left joystick to guide your rider to safety. The game has three different control schemes available via the Options menu: Camera, Left and Right and Inverted Left/Right. Unfortunately, the control schemes, whichever you choose, feel counter-intuitive and aren’t that simple to grasp. You’ll sometime feel like you finally “got it”, but a small mistake and you’ll crash again.
For a game that has an easy to pick up and play appeal, the core of it at least, the controls, will smack players back to reality. You’ll spend a bit time fighting the controls in order to avoid obstacles. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best. If you use the default controls, Camera, you almost doing a clockwise or counter-clockwise movement with a joystick to ride down as you push the joystick in the right direction. It doesn’t feel intuitive; however, if you spend a bit of time with the game, you will get used to it and find some fun. At least, there’s a few control options available.
Speaking of fun, while you fight to learn the controls, acting as a crash test dummy and ramming into trees, rocks and falling off high ledges will bring a few chuckles; so at least while the controls can make you rage at first, you’ll quickly get over it with some laugh as your character crumbles to the ground in a small, blocky, puddle of blood (which can be turned off for the young ones).
Another of the game’s nuisance is the fact that it feels like you’re riding on ice. While not a mountain bike specialist, I can understand slippery grass or mud, but “clean” tracks will also feel like your slipping left and right, which adds a layer of challenge to the rough controls. Also makes trying to line up a jump or ride through a narrow path a bit tricky and requires precise movement to avoid crashing; and the camera isn’t always a good help.
In order to give reasons to return to the game, Megagon Industries has implemented a fun progress system. The game features four different peaks (which all have multiple paths to ride) which have four different difficulty settings. Each difficulty setting feature their own challenges, all of which getting progressively more challenging as you go. The initial difficulty will only require players to reach the finish line; no matter how many times you crash or much time it takes. The next difficulty, for example, will require you to reach the finish line under 3:00 or crash less than 14 times. You can also activate multiple challenges at once to avoid repeating the ride down the path. Interestingly enough, if you crash and restart at a checkpoint, the game won’t penalize you as the timer picks up at the exact you first passed the checkpoint.
The game’s presentation is quite unique and one of the game’s strong point. The environments, and rider, have a paper like design which feels like a nice change in today’s gaming landscape. It’s a bit reminiscent of Shred It!, except with a touch of 3D. Although to follow up on the controls, the game could’ve benefit of an over-the-shoulder camera to make it easier and more approachable. There is some questionable detection physics as sometimes hitting the same object type at the same, or similar, speed can result in different consequences; sometimes a bloody mess, sometimes a simple bump. The game’s audio is as unique as the visuals. As you race down the mountain, you can enjoy the calming sound and rustling of nature. Yes, there’s no music present; it’s virtually literally you and nature and it’s quite calming opposed to the frustration to trying to stay on track.
So Lonely Mountains: Downhill worth your time and hard earned money? In short, yes. Despite the frustrating controls which hinders this game’s easy to pick up and play gameplay, once you graps your head about the arkward controls, there’s a fun ride to be had here. The unique presentation and nature rustling will alleviate the game’s cumbersome controls; if you get fed up with the control, just consider this a nature based crash test dummy simulator.
- Great overall presentation
- Gets addictive
- …once you overcome the counter-intuitive controls