Cross-posted from my personal blog.
I don’t generally like endless runners, but Alto’s Adventure is something special. Below is the script for my newest Let’s Talk About… video discussing why.
Today I want to talk about Alto’s Adventure. It’s an endless “runner” of sorts, technically an endless snowboarding game. I don’t usually like endless runners, but Alto’s Adventure has wormed its way into my heart and is one of only a handful of games to earn a permanent place on my phone. It’s also the only game with a permanent place on both my phone and my tablet.
We at IndieGames.com were sent a review copy, and based on how beautiful it looked in the trailer, I decided to give Alto’s Adventure a try. I ended up putting the trailer in one of my trailer roundups, but not giving it more coverage than that. I didn’t have enough to say about it at the time to want to devote more of my writing time to it than that. In the months since, however, it’s really grown on me.
Endless runners are procedurally generated to give the player a different progression layout every time. In that regard, Alto’s Adventure is no different. However, it goes farther than that, using procedurally generated environmental effects to make the mountain feel alive.
Some things, like birds being scared away by the player’s approach, have no effect on gameplay. Others, like the day and night cycle and weather effects, affect visibility and subsequently affect the game’s difficulty. There’s no mechanical change to what the player must do; instead, they’re affected in a very natural way by the environment. And — since it can’t rain all the time — after a while, things return to normal and it’s business as usual.
The beauty and variability of the environment combines with a music track that never, for me at least, gets old to create a truly lovely gaming experience. I don’t play Alto’s Adventure to try to rack up a score. I play it because the mountain and music are wonderful and I just want to see what the mountain will throw at me this time.
To be honest, I kind of wish the game had no scoring whatsoever. It’s there — you get points for collecting things and passing llamas and doing tricks — and although it’s pretty easy to ignore, the scoring screen at the end of a run feels like an unnecessary hurdle to playing again. This feeling is made stronger by the fact that it’s not a mindlessly-tap-anywhere-to-play-again screen. The player must push the play again button in the lower right-hand corner.
That probably sounds really nitpicky, but for me it’s the most frustrating thing about the game. I play left-handed and one-handed, and the game is not built for that. The developers implemented the ability to move the pause button, but that’s the one UI element on the left-hand side of the screen that was never a problem for me.
Regardless, the annoyances that come from playing the game as I do aren’t enough to stop me from playing it. Alto’s Adventure is an excellent title, and I strongly encourage you to consider picking it up.