I’ve loved bike-riding in video games over the years, whether it’s when I’ve been speeding across Mount Chilliad in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, hitting high scores in Mat Hoffman’s Pro BMX, or even zooming down tricky hills in the recently released Descenders. Naturally then, developer Megagon Industries’ mountain-dashing bike game Lonely Mountains: Downhill appealed to me from the get-go, with its simplistic cycling and neat visuals certainly catching my eye. It’s due to release on the Nintendo Switch this week too, so it seemed like the perfect time to try it out.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill’s gameplay follows a simple concept, with players tasked with speeding down an assortment of tricky mountains on a bicycle as fast as they can, all whilst juggling a few physics-based elements to ensure they remain safe. This isn’t like Trials where the weight of your rider affects the physics though, but rather the speed and momentum in which you’re riding. It might sound complex, but it feels intuitive and natural in-game.
The controls themselves are simple too, with the player cycling with the right trigger, braking with the left, and sprinting with the A Button – all you’ve got to do is keep riding on steady ground and not let yourself crash into something or fall off the mountain… it’s harder than it sounds. There are four different mountain types to race across in total that have four trails each, with each trail sending you on routes that can tie in with one another but that also feel completely unique in their own ways.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill just feels so damn satisfying to play, with the bike controlling perfectly as you speed your way down each treacherous trail. The trails themselves are impressively crafted too, with each full of intense turns, nail-biting drops, and time-shaving shortcuts that make each downhill escapade feel full to the brim with excitement. Do you take the traditional route and play it safe or do you speed off-track a bit to try and find a shortcut? It’s up to you. Believe me, there’s nothing quite as intense as blasting your way across a jump and quickly skidding in time to avoid a fall, and Lonely Mountains: Downhill will give you PLENTY of those moments. It just makes for a fun and very addictive experience.
Each trail you play through brings with itself four different levels of challenges, each of which become progressively tougher. Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot of diversity to these challenges with them mostly consisting of tasks such as completing a trail in a specific time or only being allowed to crash a specific amount of times, but they were still fun to complete and will take a fair bit of practice to master. That being said, some felt a little too tough in places – some of the time limits will REALLY push your skills to the limit and were almost unattainable unless you had an absolutely perfect run.
There are plenty of unlockables to gather that are tied to the game’s challenges, so you’ll always feel like you’re earning something new as you work through Lonely Mountains: Downhill. There are new paint jobs, bike parts, outfits, and even resting spots to unlock – you’ll also get access to additional trails and mountains through these challenges too, so their completion is essential to your progress through the game.
One of my favourite unlockables was the ability to change between a day and night variation on each trail. Whilst I’ll admit that night-time racing could be a lot tougher thanks to the fact that you’ve only got a flashlight to light up your path, the extra atmosphere and excitement that the dark of night brings just made the game all the more exhilarating.
I really, REALLY, enjoyed my time playing Lonely Mountains: Downhill, but it does have some flaws which could be a pain in the backside. For one, the physics would go a little haywire at times and there were a few occasions where I’d seemingly lose control of my bike despite hitting a jump or a bend at a steady pace – it wasn’t a regular occurrence, but it happened enough times for it to stand out as an issue. It was also easy to find yourself stuck in the environment and I had to restart from the previous checkpoint a few times because my bike got lodged into a tree or stuck on a wayward rock. These are minor gripes in the grand scheme of things, but given that Lonely Mountains: Downhill demands perfection, it could be the difference between success and failure when speeding down each mountain.
Presentation-wise, Lonely Mountains: Downhill adopts a minimalistic low-poly visual style – rather than feeling bland and uninspired though, each locale is packed with vibrant colours, slick environmental details, and plenty of flora and fauna to make the mountains feel like they’re full to the brim with life. What adds to the presentation is the brilliant use of camera angles, which don’t only follow the action of the game perfectly but also mix up a solid blend of perspective and focus to emphasise the beauty of your surroundings. It all runs really well on the Nintendo Switch too and I didn’t come into any performance issues during my time with the game.
Lonely Mountains: Downhill offers a brilliant bike-riding experience that demands skill and precision, but offers plenty of thrills and spills with each run. I had a whole lot of frantic fun speeding down each of its beautiful mountains, whilst the tricky challenges constantly kept me coming back for more – regardless of how many times I failed some of the tougher ones…
It does have a few little flaws, with the physics system seemingly having a few hiccups here and there and the challenging difficulty feeling a bit unforgiving in places. Fortunately, they’re minor issues that don’t ruin what is otherwise a thoroughly entertaining and incredibly addictive experience.
Developer: Megagon Industries
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC