I like games that look and feel good. Crisp, artistic graphics? Intuitive controls? Either one of those would sell me on a new app, but when they’re combined, they blow other options out of the water. Alto’s Odyssey does a great job of integrating gorgeous scenery and easy controls into a genuinely fun and uncomplicated time-killer.
Alto’s Odyssey is basically a running game with snowboarding. Tapping makes your character jump, and holding down makes them do a backflip. This simple mechanic is tested by the terrain and features of the game. Alto and his friends can grind on vines and ruins, boost off of waterfalls, and slide on the sides of canyons in the desert environment of the game. Combining tricks can get you an extra boost, but if you misjudge a landing, you will lose it all. There are mischievous lemurs to avoid that will knock you off your board. And if you forget which character you’re playing, the individual strengths, weaknesses, and abilities of the six characters can trip you up. It’s not hard to remember what to do, but gameplay is just tricky enough to make achievements rewarding without making them frustrating.
This game was based on an earlier and simpler app with the same mechanics called Alto’s Adventure. That game was set in the snowy Andes, and although it had largely the same characters and moves, it lacked the new terrain and biomes that have made Alto’s Odyssey so fun for me. Odyssey sends the snowboarders from Adventure into the desert. Their snowboarding moves translate well to sliding on the sand (Sandboarding? Is that a thing?). The best part of the new game is the biomes. You can only find vines and ruins in the Temples biome. Floating hot air balloons (great for bouncing on to make combos!) appear more often in the Dunes, and canyon walls show up in, uh, the Canyons. Biomes gradually shift over a single run. The variety makes every run fun.
Characters and power-ups are perfectly balanced – just helpful enough to make them interesting and useful, but not so pricey or overpowered that they ruin the experience. Speaking of pricey, it is possible to buy in-game currency, but you earn it rapidly enough through normal gameplay that it’s not really necessary! It’s kind of refreshing.
And it’s pretty! The scenery is gorgeous and as the weather changes and the day slides into night, the shifting colors make the game feel entirely new. It can be a bit hard to see in sandstorms, though. The lighting is calm, chill, stress-free, and beautiful.
If you’re looking for a low-stress running game, this one’s probably one of the best out there – and my new favorite. 4.5 out of 5, because Nothing is Ever Perfect. 🙂