Lonely Mountains: Downhill. Never has a title for a game been so swift in the delivery of its themes. It’s just you and your bike, alone, with a singular mission – Get down the mountain in the best time possible.
Don’t let the simple yet elegant polygonal art style of the games landscapes deceive you. Lonely Mountains: Downhill is fiendishly challenging, and also devilishly addictive.
The game certainly lulls you into a false sense of security as you start. Serene green rolling hills, the wind howling through a tumbling rocky ravine; the echo of the birds that live in the nooks and crannies and the sound of your bike pedals spinning as you ease off and skid round a corner. The dirt and pebbles kicking up around you, all control lost as you hurtle full tilt into the smallest of rocks you could have sworn blind wasn’t there at the last attempt. Back to the checkpoint you go!
As you progress through Lonely Mountains, the above will become more and more familiar, but thanks to the very correct decision from Megagon Industries, the addition of an instant restart upon failure only serves to add to the addiction. Not since Geometry Wars 2 and Trials have I clenched the pad so tightly, muttering singular obscenities loudly as I restart my run.
From a presentation perspective, the game is wonderfully simplistic, with beautiful colours and hues throughout. I played this both on an Xbox One S, where performance was capped at 30fps and even then, quite a few drops, which was disappointing. On PC however, the game performed flawlessly, giving me a wonderful 144FPS, supporting my 32:9 monitor with ease. Delicious.
The game is divided across 16 trails, set in 4 distinct mountain areas, ranging from idyllic rolling green hills, autumnal forests with winding brooks, sandy deserts with sharp rock-faces and swampy, foggy glades. As you unlock each trail, the objective is simple; just complete the course, making it to base camp at the bottom. As you progress, things start to get a little trickier – complete the course within a certain time, or within a certain number of hilarious crashes. Each objective completed may unlock a bike part towards your next ride, or a paintjob or outfit for you character. The nuance of each bike, from the wonderfully responsive Pacebreaker, the terrifying speed of the Javelin all the way through to the insane suspension on the Geronimo just feels perfect to handle.
The levels are fantastically designed, with each route containing unique shortcuts to improve that time to the get to you camp at the end. Some may require a certain bike with better suspension or more speed, or perhaps better handling on corners. Spotting that new shortcut out of the corner of your eye never loses it’s charm. You can even unlock a night run for each trail to make it even more challenging – if you’re good enough to get to that point in the first place.
There are of course leaderboards, allowing you to compete with pals for the best times on each trial. At launch, I did encounter several bugs connecting to these every now and then, and one harrowing moment caused my save game to revert, forcing me to replay several trails to get back to where I was. The game can be fiendishly difficult but it never cheats you, and I think this is what makes it so great to play.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a both a relaxing and invigorating change to most games of its nature, in addition to being a game that requires precision, skill and patience to really get the most out of it. Either way you roll, I’d wholeheartedly recommend picking this up – I haven’t screamed “F**K!” at my screen when I’ve screwed up with this much earnest all generation.
Back to the checkpoint. Stupid tree.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is available on Game Pass (PC & Console)