Alto’s Odyssey is the successor to the highly successful and acclaimed Alto’s Adventure released back in 2015. An endless runner on a handheld platform might sound overdone at this point thanks to the Temple Run series, but this game takes on a more soothing and captivating approach with its amazing soundtrack and wallpaper-esque style of art allowing players a better immersion experience than any other endless runner out there. What can a platform scroller do differently these days that allow it to stand out against a stacked competition out there in this genre? Let’s find out!
Right from the get-go, you are dropped into the surreal and beautifully crafted world of Alto’s Odyssey’s new sandboarding through a desert and going through a quick tutorial explaining the fundamental movement commands and obstacles to look out for. Tricks can be performed including backflips in the air which can be used to slingshot off hot air balloons which act as a trampoline for insane air times, allowing the score multiplier to rapidly go up allowing for risk vs reward type of gameplay. The first stages are simple with just a few rocks and chasms placed as obstacles to avoid but the game picks up pace very soon adding a lot more obstacles at awkward slopes to pose a challenge and ruin your score.
Dying in the game to any obstacle is the end of the run unless, of course, you watch the video ad, allowing you to continue the run from where you failed. Not a big fan of this as it skews and inflates some of the Hi-scores that my friends have, serving as a slight disappointment if you’re a competitive gamer looking only for single runs without any re-dos by watching the Ads.
Compared to its predecessor, there are a lot more hidden gems in Alto’s Odyssey including various biomes as the player sandboards through the endless desert, including temples and canyons. The controls are simple yet effective, with Alto (and all the unlockable characters) moving forward automatically. A tap on the screen allows for a jump while a long press makes Alto do a backflip which gives more momentum in the air for covering big gaps such as the chasms or bouncing off the balloons. What’s new is the feature of wall riding. When certain walls come up, Tapping and holding on to the screen will allow Alto to ride the wall along to chain into other tricks.
There are coins to collect (in-game currency) which can be used in the workshop to get upgrades for power-ups such as the Coin Magnet. The workshop has a lot of other cool items that a review cannot do justice and a player must use them to see all the fun options available.
Along with coin-collecting, goals are the main progression system in the game, requiring their completion to level up and unlock Alto’s friends as playable characters, each coming in with their own strengths and weaknesses.
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If tryhard on an endless platformer is not your cup of the tea for the day, there exists a Zen Mode, where you do not have to worry about goals, points, coins, or any of the scoring or progression requirements. It’s just you and your sandboard against the endless desert and its dunes.
If you crash, you just pick yourself up and keep going at it from right there. Playing this mode with a surround sound headset, I can see the vibe that the developers were pushing for, and they have nailed it. Zen Mode, as the name implies, allows you to go into the zone with its amazing soundtrack and the atmospheric ambiance that it creates (don’t forget to use your earbuds or headphones!)
Graphics and Soundtrack:
Compared to its predecessor which was visually appealing already, Alto’s Odyssey takes place against a desert backdrop with various biomes ranging from temples to canyons and dune areas, all visually stunning and well-designed. The graphics are simple, clean yet polished with the expectations we have from big studio game developers. The lighting and the mood are dynamic and constantly change as Alto traverses through the desert and honestly, this might be the best-looking endless runner that I’ve played so far.
The soundtrack is the other big carry for this game that goes hand-in-hand with the graphics. First load-up of the game and playing through it, it sounded a tad bit out of place. But after getting used to that, the soundtrack thereafter changed to a soothing setting for a calm and peaceful atmospheric vibe giving the feeling of tranquility. It goes very well for the immersion as the game does take place in a desert, a lifeless and endless pit of doom. The sound effects too are reflective of what one might expect them to sound like and nothing feels off or forced during the gameplay which shows the stellar job that the developers have done.
Pros and Cons
- Amazing visuals, clean animations, and smooth gameplayStellar soundtrack deepens the immersion
- F2P game with no intrusive MTX affecting gameplay
- Simple controls, easy to pick up
- Good replayability value on the game
- Some goals can be extremely hard to complete, resulting in a progression stall for a bit
Being a successor to an already acclaimed product is not easy, but Alto’s Odyssey strikes against the odds by being one of the best, if not the best, endless runner on a handheld platform out there by getting everything right. The controls are simple, the graphics are stunning, the soundtrack is amazing and to the top, it does not require MTX to keep up with the game’s progression. If you’re into the endless runner genre, then this game is a no-brainer pick-up as it just cannot go wrong.