It’s a warm, sunny day. The breeze whooshes past as you speed quickly down the trail. As you continue, your speed increases; there’s a turn! You apply the brakes and drift right, avoiding a painful collision with a rock. On the other hand, maybe you’re me and you slam right into it, ending your run. Thunderful’s latest game from developer Megagon Industries, Lonely Mountains: Downhill, takes you through some treacherous mountain bike trails filled with twists, turns, jumps, ramps, trees, rocks, and broken pieces from all the times I’ve crashed…. okay, that last part is a joke.
Official Description from Thunderful
The Lonely Mountains are waiting for you! Explore rocky mountain slopes with your bike, jump over sandy gorges or find your way through the foggy forests. Each Lonely Mountain awaits you with new challenges! Sprint, jump and slide to find your own way to the finish line. Explore the detailed mountain worlds or face the ticking clock – with every success you unlock new bikes, paintwork and outfits piece by piece. Train your skills day and night, improve your place on the leaderboards and ultimately compete with the best riders in the world in the risky Free Ride mode.
That description sums it up nicely. It’s a sweet game with a simplistic beauty to its basic polygon graphic approach. It’s clean, tight, and smooth in its performance. The sound effects are surprisingly crisp and realistic, adding a true depth to the game. The graphics are pretty and cute with an odd sense of detailed simplicity. I love the trees. They feel almost as if they are stop-motion animated, which is wonderful. Other natural elements include rocks, rivers, grass, and small plants. Not much else blankets the scene, no bears or deer from what I can tell, for example.
Frankly, I found it quite difficult. In my time with the game, I’ve explored one of the four mountains you can unlock as well as two of its trails. Each trail includes multiple difficulty modes that provide varying challenges. Challenges include limiting the number of crashes or completing in under a certain time. Some, called “Cross the Finish Line”, remove all of the checkpoints, making it even more difficult to get all the way through a run. The initial trail, Graterhorn Trail 1, has 6 checkpoints throughout. My best time is 2:45.77, for example.
Now, let’s talk game play. The controls are simple. You accelerate with ZR, break with ZL, steer with the left Joy-Con joystick, and can sprint with A. There are three steering modes: Left/Right, Left/Right Inverted, and Screen Based. I find the latter to be the most difficult for me to use, personally. Now, as you go, you’ll pick up speed going downhill, especially if you stay on the path. The main issue here is that if you hit something going fast enough, you’ll crash. This will cause you to restart from the previous checkpoint or beginning of the map. Why is this an issue? Well, without an speedometer or gauge, it is difficult to know the line between slow enough to graze the rock or tree and fast enough to crash into said rock or tree. I’m sure it gets easier over time but I found it frustrating, especially during timed trials.
Let’s move on to customization. There are some personal cosmetic options including multiple helmet types, skin tones, hair, and facial hair options. Additionally, there are multiple bikes. You begin with the Grasshopper and work your way toward the Geronimo, which I feel looks the coolest. Each bike has a different set of stats including stability, agility, acceleration, among others.
Overall, I think it’s a relatively solid game that looks easier than it is. If you’re looking for a challenging cycle game with pretty graphics, you’re in luck. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet, casual ride through the woods, I don’t think this is for you.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is available digitally for Nintendo Switch now and was previously released on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. It’s standard price is $19.99.