Lonely Mountains Downhill has a deceptively simple look to it. The flat shaded polygons, calming atmosphere and ambient background noise belie the rage inducing gameplay that is found within. For the majority of the time, this is of the one more go variety, but not always.
We start off on the top of a mountain sat on our pushbike, with the sole goal of getting to the bottom. Simple. Yet along the way, every single bump, rock and crevasse will thwart you should you so much as look at them funny. It wasn’t long before the old Trials rage was coming out. Each track bends and twists as you coarse onward, often in surprisingly sharp ways. And seeing as we are relying on our pedal power here, our brakes are only so effective too. Mastering both is vital to success, especially later on.
Each of the four mountains on offer has several courses to ride. Starting off, it’s simply a case of getting to your camp at the end of the run. You can fail as many times, or take as long as, you like. This allows you to really explore each area, finding shortcuts or hidden areas that will help later on. Keeping one eye on the track ahead while also looking out for shortcuts is quite the expereince – especially at high speed. Often, these extra routes will demand some serious skill (and patience) to clear, with the payoff being a faster route down the mountain. You can put all that you learn into the subsequent challenges, with a 3-tier approach that will test even the calmest of players. While the challenge itself is fun, completion also nets you rewards, such as bike parts or cosmetics for your rider. You’ll also need to clear certain challenges to unlock more trails or mountains, though these tend to be on the easier side, thankfully.
Each of the trails typically cross over at points with each other too, so using knowledge of other runs can come in handy here. It’s always clear where you are meant to go – the criss cross of tracks could’ve been confusing, but as long as you’re heading down (for the most part) you’re on the right track. Checkpoints along the way keep you on route, each popping up with a timer as you pass to let you know how you’re doing.
Control of the bike feels great. There’s a real sense of grinding your tires through mud and grass, accompanied by a wonderfully earthy sound effect. Even at speed, it was easy to remain in control. Occasionally the physics would seemingly have a meltdown and fling my rider skyward for no reason, but for the most part if I failed, it was because of my own bravado.
Well, that and some iffy performance at times. Rather oddly, things ran smooth as anything when playing the first mountain. The greens and greys of the background providing a nice setting for my cavalier riding. Moving on to the second mountain however, I noticed things started to get choppy. A few seconds in and things were stuttering, almost as if every other frame was missing. But this only really occurred when there wsa a lot of red on screen. Moving back to green pastures on the same track saw performance smooth out, only to dive again once more red was involved. It’s an odd situation, and one that is compounded by the fact that both the second and third mountains are predominantly red…
The camera doesn’t help matters too. For the most part, the action is viewed from an isometric view point. The thing is, a lot of the time we are riding into the screen, making upcoming turns and obstacles hard to react to in time. Lining up jumps can be challenging, as well as getting a good read of the land on trickier sections. Sometimes, background scenery straight up occludes your view, with your rider getting by on blind luck for a few seconds – or not. Megagon does at least allow a few control options to help you. I opted for the classic left and right controls, whereby you’re inputs are based in the riders direction regardless of camera angle. My illustrious wife however got on better with 360 degree control, in which your analogue stick inputs are governed by camera angle,
I also found that some unpredictable impact physics at times botched my runs. Being on a mountain bike, it’s understandable that it’d be fairly easy to be knocked off. But while one instance ploughing headlong into a rock saw me bounce of harmlessly, another had me falling of for merely brushing a flower. Some of the harder shortcuts require precise skill to navigate, but again, I was at the mercy of the physics as to whether the exact same action would yield the same results each time. Thankfully, timed runs reset the clock to when you passed the checkpoint, so falling is more of an inconvenience than a true punishment.
Overall, Lonely Mountains Downhill is a fun, arcade style challenge that will test even the most hardened of gamer’s nerve. Some bizarre technical issues and dodgy physics let the side down a tad, but it’s far from unplayable. In fact, there’s something rather calming to the whole affair in between the rage that makes playing the game worthwhile – especially as it launches into Gamepass!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.