Alto’s Odyssey Review: Endless Zen In the Palm of Your Hands
Alto’s Odyssey is the follow up mobile title to the critically acclaimed endless snowboarding title, Alto’s Adventure. If you played the original, then you know full well what to expect in Odyssey, but if you missed out, then you’re in for a treat. This game is simple to learn and play and very addicting, but it’s also very difficult to master, which is why I classify it as a “one more turn” type of gaming experience. It features the same allure to keep you playing even though you know you should quit and move on with your day as a Civ game, which can keep you planted in your set for hours on end while you try to convince yourself that you’ll stop playing after just one more turn. It doesn’t hurt that Odyssey looks like art in motion, while offering up a zen-like musical score either, both of which help to make this endless runner style game stand out from the crowded pack on the App Store.
The gameplay is simple. Using just one of your fleshy digits, you must jump and trick your way across a dynamically generated desert landscape as you sandboard down steep dunes and over dark chasms while avoiding rock obstacles and grinding or bouncing off of hot air balloons. It’s the simplistic one button gameplay that makes it very simple to understand Alto Odyssey’s mechanics, which in turn make it easy to pick up and play. Although, this isn’t a game you’ll master on your first attempt, nor your 20th, because it is difficult to master as you try to get cute with your tricks and end up crashing more often than not.
In terms of tricks they’re key to how fast you can get Alto going. You can only really do one trick, which is a backflip, but the game considers actions such as bouncing off a rock or hot air balloon as tricks, as well as grinding on banner lines that tie balloons together. You really just have to control yourself from not wanting to pull backflips on each steep decline or jump, but it’s harder than it sounds because you must keep your inner Evel Knievel at bay. You’re also tasked with completing certain objectives, such as collecting a set number of coins, or pulling off multiple jumps in a single run. These coins in turn can be redeemed for new gear, which consists of helmets to give you an extra life, and other buff style consumables. There are also some other game changing items to buy as well, such as the ability to use your scarf as a wing suit.
In addition to the standard score-based gameplay, which ends with each crash, there is also a Zen mode. The Zen mode is the perfect showcase for this game’s immaculate polish, because it strips away the HUD and gameplay rules, so you can just relax, strap on a pair of headphones and just take as long as a run as you want as you take in the beauty of the game’s visuals, as well as the meditative tones of its score.
I should also mention that it has a fully fleshed out Photo Mode, which makes complete sense for a game that looks as great as this one. At anytime during a run you can pause the game to bring up Photo Mode, which then allows you to pan and zoom around the frame to give you the best looking shot possible.
Let’s be honest here. The endless runner genre was one of the first to be heavily featured for mobile devices, namely due to the simplicity of the controls they require. Over time though, these games got repetitive and boring, so I didn’t even bother with them. I was even hesitant to take on Alto’s Odyssey due to my lack of interest in the genre, but after seeing it in action, I signed up for the review opportunity solely based on its visual design, which I considered to be art in motion. After playing it though, I realized how great of an endless runner experience it provides, and have become quite addicted to its challenges. It’s a great game to spend a few minutes with in between your life’s appointments, but it’s also one that you can lose 30-minutes to and hour to thanks to its “one more turn” charm. Best of all, it has a one time cost of $4.99, and supports cross platform play, so for five bucks you can play this game across your iOS devices — including compatible Apple TVs — and it will never bother you for an in-app purchase.
If you need a game that won’t take anytime at all to learn, but will challenge you daily to get better, then I highly recommend purchasing Alto’s Odyssey. It offers up very addicting gameplay, an intoxicating art design and score, and plenty of value. I’m struggling to put it down even as I write this review, because I just want one more chance to best my high score and to conquer my current challenges. Check it out on the App Store, so you can get that Alto’s Odyssey gaming high too!
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Review Statement: The author of this review was provided a PS4 code by the publisher for the purposes of this review.