Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a superb example of a simple idea executed to absolute perfection.
It doesn’t attempt to be a multifaceted po-faced sports sim, or a super casual title with mechanics so basic it wouldn’t hold anyone’s attention for more than a few seconds.
Instead it’s a perfectly judged title that asks you to mountain bike it down increasingly dangerous cliffs – that really all there is to it – but it is somehow incredibly relaxing in the process.
This is largely down to the fact that you’re on your own, as the title implies. It’s just you, the bike, and several dangerous natural obstacles.
There are no ramps to do tricks off, no commentators, no needless on-screen stats, or even a soundtrack. Instead this is a game that captures that feeling of cycling through a deserted forest, with only the sound of the wheels turning to keep you company. And it’s total bliss.
The feeling of serenity this game evokes deep inside you would be impossible if the controls weren’t up to snuff of course, but fortunately they’re spot on.
You mostly rely on inertia to carry you through some sections of courses, whereas you can cycle and brake using the shoulder buttons to stop and go accordingly. It takes on a few minutes to get used to the way you control the bike’s movement, but it feels incredibly natural once you’re into the swing of it.
The only real issue with Lonely Mountains: Downhill – aside from rare performance hiccups – is that for some players there may not be enough content to get their teeth into.
There are sixteen trails set across four different mountains, but there’s no two player mode or any other options beyond beating high scores. There’s definitely a desire from the developer to support the game though with DLC adding a fictional volcanic island of Eldfjall this month, but make no mistake – this is not a title that boasts stacks of options.
For many – including us – that makes the game even more impressive though. It’s so focused on what it wants to achieve that it lets nothing else get in the way. It’s an experience like no other.