My video game tour is approaching its conclusion, yet we''re in no hurry. Like in Lonely Mountains: Downhill, the mountain biking game is full of gnarly descents, dangerous jumps, and barely controlled skids, but offers privacy opportunities for everyone. One of the few little adventures you can take to the restroom at the end of the day. Delightful.
Lonely Mountains: A single-player game about bombing down mountain tracks on a bicycle is simple: pedal; brake; and sprint. This is enough for a moderate-feeling bicycle, which moves from a gentle twist on a flat path to desperately locking the brakes and slalom-skidding through a murderous descent filled with boulders. If you slide into obstacles (or zoom off a cliff, or another...) and burst your little low-poly body, you can start
On your first journey down a course, you simply need to reach the end. No timer, no list of objectives, just go. From there, escalating difficulty levels bring tighter times and challenges to unlock more courses on the same mountain, as well as whole new mountains, and outfits, paints, and parts to purchase bikes with different stats. The challenge is satisfying to rise.
I quickly realized that I could cut corners off the obvious well-worn path. I then tried to improve my times by using limited sprint energy, better cornering, and less patience with not braking. Finally, I began exploring whole alternate routes, hidden paths that might cut off a long winding descent if I can nail a series of body jumps in order. I gradually begin to explore other routes and try to refine them later on. This is why I am becoming bolder with my routes as long as I understand the need for the trick
As I repeat routes to shave seconds, I''m grateful to unlock new courses on the same mountain and recognise familiar spaces, to pass through a segment of another route or visit a location previously seen from there. This is boosted by the fixed camera position which often allows you to walk through the screen, making the path ahead constantly reveal surprises until you have it memorised.
Although exploration isn''t speed, it''s completely stopping. At hidden''resting places, you may press Y to have your character dismount for a quiet sit-down. They select something scenic to stretch their legs, shake out their arms, and take in the view. It''s remarkable.
Lonely Mountains is very impressive, adorned with angular low-poly models and stippled textures. It is particularly impressive with the gentle tilt-shift camera effect, although attention is focused on what stands there without mediocre detail. I see moss-capped rocks, the last yellow leaves clinging to the aspen, flowers and fungi on fallen trees, dragonflies and butterflies flitting about, and perching birds that flit away as I pass. I''m amazed by
It''s a fantastic visual representation of nature, and it''s a quiet soundscape. It''s often louder than the bicycle; we are only one being sharing this space. It feels like a rush, especially with each course finishing at your tent.
On my real-world trips, I usually stick with pals while looking elsewhere or just running errands. My regular 17km evening loop takes me to the end of a beach where I''ll see the sun set behind the Forth Bridge but only slow to enjoy the rush of my freehub as I round a large turning circle and return home. I''ll make moony eyes at her while eating a banana and then turn back downhill once it''s gone. I''m a waste.
When these routes were less familiar, I''d go slowly through Prestonpans, admiring the hundreds of painted stones laid out along a wall, hoping to find new ones as good as my favourite, a gigantic quizzical mallard head. At North Berwick, I''d push my bike a way along the clifftop, then sidle down the side, and lay in the long grass above the beach.
Sadly I think I have lost track of accomplishment during a difficult and aimless year of my life. I''ve developed Strava''s brain, becoming over-invested in the sense of progress and purpose from a rigid system of seeking numbers. It may be difficult to grasp the little pleasures which require a curious yet calm mind to enjoy. It takes more effort to become still than to cycle 80 kilometres.
Reintroduce relaxation after playing a visual novel, Aran''s Bike Trip, and use additional opportunities to go on bikepacking. If a video game about deadly downhill mountain biking can make time for it, then do so.
We should return on the cybertrail. I believe the Tour De Jeux will be closed for the next game.