There are all these games that are loaded with features and multiplayer components and layers upon layers of gameplay, and yeah, they’re great. But sometimes you just need a game that relies on a simple method and literally rolls with it throughout, offering a compelling experience in the process. This, friends, is what Thunderful Publishing’s Lonely Mountains: Downhill is all about.
Previously released on other platforms and PC, the game has finally come to Nintendo Switch, enabling fans to take its free-wheeling fun on the go. It’s a matter of getting from point A to point B across a number of courses with your bike, but not quite as simple as you may think. Plus, the developers were wise enough to throw in enough alternate paths and obstacles to make each ride worthwhile. There’s just something fun about its combination of simplicity and challenge. And yes, somehow the two intertwine.
Wanna Go For a Ride?
The game begins, simply enough, by introducing you to your lack-of-face rider (it’s a computer model, and it works) and their bike. You then take off on the course, as you have to follow routes that are put into each level. Sometimes you can take something off the beaten path, as risk can sometimes lead to reward. Of course, this could also lead to a sudden drop-off where you crash and have to start at the last checkpoint you came from. In fact, you’ll probably crash often, so thank goodness it has a system like this in place.
Over the course of the game, you’ll have to take on the course on higher difficulty settings, which introduces new challenges. This includes completing it in a certain amount of time, having a minimal amount of crashes, and so forth. The more you get done, the more you unlock, including new trails, new bikes, new outfits, etc. It’s a neat little system that keeps you coming back for more as if the addictive riding system isn’t enough.
So Much Done With So Little
This is an indie-developed game, so there aren’t many AAA values here, like announcers yukking it up over your mistakes or even a soundtrack. But, surprisingly, Lonely Mountains: Downhill doesn’t need them. It does the best with the simplistic nature it’s been given, and it works wonderfully.
The game’s audio aesthetic simply consists of your bicycle noises and the world that you’re biking through. And, really, that’s all a lot of players can ask for. Sure, a soundtrack would’ve been novel, but there’s something about getting back to nature that will appeal to some players. I was rather relaxed playing through this game – until I was crashing, of course.
Thunderful also puts on quite a show with its presentation. The camera layout makes for an interesting approach, since you can barely see what lies ahead of you on each course. But I like it, as it keeps you on your toes around each corner or shows where you need to be careful right about when you need to be. The course design is outstanding, not going too far over the top but providing just enough to make each ride worthwhile.
It’s All About the Feel of the Bike
As for controls, Lonely Mountains: Downhill couldn’t feel any better. The controls are tight and responsive, especially when it comes to maintaining speed – an important factor in a game such as this. You’ll want to make sure you use the brake accordingly, especially when it comes to gliding downhill and avoiding teetering over the edge of a cliff. What’s more, the multi-directional steering is pretty awesome, as you can keep precision in play while also not sacrificing speed.
The sprint button also adds a fun little dynamic to the gameplay. For those that are trying to get the best course times available, you could try and boost your way through the level – though you might be asking for trouble. And it becomes a necessity when you’re trying to get across gaps, including hangovers off of cliffs that are disastrous if you come up short. It’s all about getting the practice in, but you’ll get a hang of how the game handles in no time flat.
This Ride Shouldn’t Be Missed
While Lonely Mountains: Downhill may not look like much at first, it’s easily become one of the most vital racing games on the Nintendo Switch. Its precision controls are awesome and really provide a great twist on how to take on each course; and the minimal presentation works remarkably well. Throw in a bunch of content to unlock and challenges galore, and you have a game that will keep you, as Jane’s Addiction once put it, “coming down the mountain.”
Thunderful’s indie biking experience is a tour-de-force in challenge and fun, all while keeping it simple.
Streamer and Cosplay Enthusiast