Originally, I came across Lonely Mountains: Downhill thanks to Xbox Game Pass. I downloaded the game and forgot it for a while. One day, I decided to boot the game up and see what it was all about after hearing a Twitter thread praise the gameplay. Low and behold, I was missing out on an excellent little indie game that is a far cry from the regular genres of video games I play. Here was this simplistic game about biking down mountains and it was the perfect palette cleanse to those big AAA games that gum up the senses.
However, I’ve become spoiled and I set the game aside on Xbox, hoping that inevitably, Lonely Mountains: Downhill would make its way to the Nintendo Switch. It did thankfully, several months later and for the most part, I was happy I waited.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill offers four different mountains to conquer with each location growing increasingly difficult as you navigate trails. The key is though to navigate one mountain and finding the best way to get to the bottom before trying again and beating your time with fewer crashes. I’m prone to finding shortcuts and in most cases, I’ll bail and crash because I’m getting ahead of myself. However, the more you the better the bikes you unlock and the more demanding the mountains become. I’m happy to say that while the gameplay is simple, it’s also extremely satisfying and commands your attention to get to the bottom with as little damage as possible.
For the most part, I’m barrelling down a trail, knocking into several trees before falling down a ditch onto a rocky surface. I hit the B button and try again, only now I miss the trees, and fall three stories below to my doom. I’m doing my best to game the mechanics and get around by going off the beaten path, but in this case, the path is the way to success. Thankfully, Lonely Mountains: Downhill nails the controls of biking, things feel so natural and progressive – and the checkpoint system is a blessing.
However, after the introductory mountain is all said and done, you’ll be offered challenges like finishing a ride within the time limit or with as few crashes as possible. As someone who can be impatient at times, I had to learn that fast and furious only works in certain scenarios; riding a bike down the mountain certainly not being one of them. Thankfully, you’ll find the right balance in over a dozen courses that will test your patience and skills.
And when you discover a new shortcut, every time comes with a sigh of satisfaction a breath of relief. Each trail offers several shortcuts worth exploring, and it is good practice to return and find a new path. Control in Lonely Mountains: Downhill is key to surviving and it’s masterfully put together with a camera guiding you down the mountain to safety. You’ll unlock new bikes: each bike offering a specialty. One is better for taking damage and absorbing shock from a fall, others have speed but limited handling.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill requires some skill and patience but it’s brilliant. Learning how to make my way from the top of a callous mountaintop to the comforting, soothing bottom is where the fun lies. Taking your time learning the trails and executing without falling off your bike is a blast, or you can be a reckless biker with a penchant for danger. It’s really up to you how you’ll make your way down the mountains, but I promise you that the excitement of completing a rigorous trail is worth the frustrations of figuring things out.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
- Excellent mountain designs, fun trails to discover
- Beautiful low-poly graphics
- Easy to play, hard to master gameplay
- Some performance issues on Switch