Review: Alto’s Adventure for iPad

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Alto’s Adventure is getting a lot of good press, for a lot of good reasons. With a combination of compelling but uncomplicated gameplay, beautiful graphics, and a sprightly soundtrack that perfectly fits the scenario, Alto’s Adventure is one of the best things to hit the App Store in a while.

You play the part of Alto, a simple yak herder from a snowy and mountainous part of the world. Someone left the barn door open and your yaks have made an escape. You grab your snowboard and start chasing them down. Along the way you need to jump over rocks and chasms to avoid biting it, and starting back at the barn. As you catch each errant yak, you gain points with which you can upgrade your snowboard and skills, such as your jump hang time. In the only tired metaphor used in the game, you also scoop up coins for upgrading the board and yourself. As you careen down the mountain you’re presented with bridges and cables you can jump onto and shred to gain more points. Finally, doing simple flips and other tricks will also gain you points. But really this point-gathering takes backstage to the gameplay and graphics.

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And the graphics vie with gameplay on an almost-equal basis to make Alto’s Adventure so much fun. You snowboard in a two-dimensional world of forests, mountains, and villages. The simple soundtrack is completely harmonious with the game: energizing and calming at the same time. And this brings us to what makes Alto’s adventure such a unique commodity. While most endless-anything games are meant to be nerve-wracking as you avoid the next death experience, here the overall effect of the game is calm energy. You could play Alto’s Adventure just before bed and drop off to sleep easily. But the game is the last thing from boring and has that compelling, “just one more try” quality that to me is the mark of a great game.

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As you would expect of a high-quality game like this, the graphics and sound were flawless over the hours that I played: I got not one stutter, hiccup, or crash. Also as befits a game of this quality, there are no in-app purchases to annoy you, distract from the next slide down the mountain, or to drain your wallet. You can find Alto’s Adventure in the new “Pay once and play” section of the App store. (And kudos to Apple for giving these games a spotlight.)

From my viewpoint, Alto’s Adventure is the best thing to happen to iPad gaming since Monument Valley. And that’s saying a lot. Here’s an App Store link for Alto’s Adventure; it’s priced at (only!) $1.99.


Marc Luoma

I'm an iPad, and iPhone enthusiast, Mac user since '84, world traveler, dog and cat lover, living in Kigali Rwanda for a year.

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