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Lonely Mountains: Downhill review for Nintendo Switch | What a ride

Lonely Mountains: Downhill review Nintendo Switch Megagon Industries Thunderful racing

Lonely Mountains: Downhill from Megagon Industries and Thunderful allows you to develop the skills to navigate your way down some truly breathtaking trails on a mountain bike at high speed. While you may never be able to do it in real life, you can certainly perfect your instincts until you can descend every mountain in the game with your eyes closed.

It’s all downhill

Lonely Mountains: Downhill review Nintendo Switch Megagon Industries Thunderful racing

You begin Lonely Mountains: Downhill with a single mountain and only one trail to ride. The game eases you in by simply asking you to complete the trail, nothing more than that. However, you quickly realize that this isn’t as simple as you expected it to be.

The direction of your bike is controlled using the left stick, with two control schemes to choose from. Each one has its advantages, but ultimately you’ll opt for the one that your brain finds easier to interpret — either moving in all directions or just left and right. This might sound complicated, but after you’ve played a few trails, the controls become completely natural.

Once you’ve completed your first trail, you’ll unlock a second set of challenges. These award new trails, bike parts for upgrades, and even another mountain to explore. The game quickly ramps up as you throw yourself down this first mountain again and again, learning every corner and obstacle to push down your time.

The short trails are addicting, taking mere minutes to complete on their own but giving you the reasonable excuse that you have time for just one more. Before you know it, you’ll be on the third and fourth mountain, attempting to find every single shortcut just to get your time down to the current challenge’s limit.

Natural beauty

Lonely Mountains: Downhill review Nintendo Switch Megagon Industries Thunderful racing

Every environment in the game has been beautifully created with a soft geometric design. Regardless of which mountain you throw yourself down, you won’t be able to help admiring the natural world around you.

The beauty of the environment even extends to the game’s soundtrack. While you’d expect some heavy rock or something that makes you feel like the pressure is truly on, the game simply uses nature to accompany you as you ride. The sounds of bird songs, leaves falling, and your own tires on the ground are all that you’ll hear as you ride. That is — until you ride face-first into a rock. Then you’ll get a satisfying, if disturbingly wet crack.

Your bike is faster if you stick to the well-ridden path. In a way, this echoes the voices of environmentalists everywhere. By limiting your impact on nature with every ride, you’ll score a better time and probably learn the entrance to a new shortcut in the process.

These shortcuts are hidden well and usually disguised as drops. However, if you choose to take a chance on a random path you come across, you might be rewarded with the opportunity to shave a few seconds off a corner. Be warned though: Shortcuts in Lonely Mountains: Downhill are treacherous, and anyone using them should watch out for boulders that will definitely cause them to crash.

A reason to keep playing

Lonely Mountains: Downhill review Nintendo Switch Megagon Industries Thunderful racing

Lonely Mountains: Downhill feels a lot like the OlliOlli franchise. It presents you with an activity that you might never have the chance to do, at least not to the same level, and provides you with a way to become skilled in it.

You start out like a baby animal finding their feet. Your first ride down a trail is slow as you cautiously look out for any tight turns or sheer drops ahead of you. After a couple of attempts though, you’ll be confidently hurtling down the same path, knowing how you need to turn and where you need to brake.

While competing against your own personal best times is nice, the game has leaderboards for you to monitor as well. This is where the endgame really is, giving you a reason to come back every day and try to beat that person who has posted the fastest time overnight.

Verdict

Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a fantastic game. You don’t need to be into bikes, mountains, or sports to enjoy it. The simplicity of riding down a mountain trail, even when you’re trying to beat your personal best time, is an oddly relaxing experience that you can zone out to wherever you’re playing. The short trails are perfect for quick sessions on a commute or while you’re out and about, but there’s definitely potential to sit and play for hours at a time.

Release Date: May 7, 2020
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: Racing
Developer: Megagon Industries
Publisher: Thunderful
A review code was provided by the publisher.

Our review policy.

Lonely Mountains: Downhill

8

Pros
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Fantastic sense of progression
Cons
  • No real soundtrack to speak of
  • The controls take quite a bit of getting used to
Jamie Sharp
Started out playing Metroid 2 on the GameBoy at around 5 years-old, and now I write about games all day long. Can't play Switch and drive, I've tried. As time goes on the Switch is quickly becoming my favourite console of all time.

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