Years of iteration and mainstream popularity have taken their toll on the endless runner genre, rendering it tired and worn despite its young age. Endless snowboarder Alto's Adventure defies that notion, stripping away layers of gaudy mobile paint to rediscover the genre's elegant core.
The average endless runner can be a great deal of fun, don't get me wrong. It's just that the simple gameplay concept—run, dodge, repeat—has been buried under colorful characters, creative monetization practices and free-to-play nonsense. The average endless runner today is a free-to-play game with options to buy cosmetic items, new characters, power-ups or continues. They've become the go-to genre for quick-and-dirty movie tie-in games.
Alto's Adventure from developer Snowman is not a free-to-play game—it costs $1.99. There is no monetization and no microtransactions. There is no licensed character—just a snowboarder and his friends atop a mountain, attempting to recover his spooked llamas. He rides.
He rides through the rain.
He rides through the snow.
He rides through brightest day.
He rides through darkest night.
There is but a single control—tap the screen to jump, tap and hold to flip. There are rails to grind, chasms to leap, angry elders to escape and coins to collect. Ride well and you'll complete goals, advancing in level and unlocking new characters. Ride poorly and... well it really doesn't matter; once you start riding it's quite hard to stop.
If Alto's Adventure sounds familiar, it's because the core gameplay is akin to the popular mobile game Ski Safari.
But where Ski Safari has bouncy music, colorful characters and the ability to purchase gold to unlock even more, Alto's has a man, a mountain, some beautiful music and the endless cycles of time and weather. It's the difference between eating a Hot Pocket in your sweatpants to dining at an elegant Italian restaurant with one of your favorite adult people. Watch me play.
Alto's Adventure is the endless runner matured, ripping away the trappings of mobile's youthful obsession to rediscover the elegance and simplicity that made everyone want to copy genre progenitor Canabalt in the first place.
If I close my eyes its as if years of horrible movie tie-in runner games never happened. Also I fall into a chasm.
- Genre: Endless Runner. Or Endless Snowboarder. Endless Love?
- Developer: Snowman
- Platform: iOS
- Price: $1.99