A Ride Into the Mountains is of the “less is more” camp, like a miniaturized Shadow of the Colossus. Mobile gaming can be messy, too in-your-face with overly bright colors and ear-piercing sound effects. But chisel all that away, and sometimes you’re left with the essentials, something that’s not caked in makeup meant to hide mechanical imperfections.
The premise is simple: an evil force has invaded a mysterious relic sitting atop a mountain, and as the hero your goal is to defeat the demons. The story and motivations, however, aren’t really what’s so great about A Ride Into the Mountains, especially since it’s so typical of a hero’s journey. What makes the game so special are the graphics and music; both work in perfect harmony to create a wonderful little handheld fantasy. It shows that the right artistic vision can have a huge emotional affect on the player.
Like the plot, A Ride Into the Mountain’s controls are super simple, if a little clumsy. Tilt the phone to ride forward, and fling arrows like you would playing Angry Birds. The only difference is that the longer you pull back the bow, the farther you shoot an arrow; it’s a familiar mechanic for those who’ve played any console game—just don’t expect to shoot arrows in rapid succession.
Each enemy you encounter has a particular on-rails attack, so you’ll need to pay attention in order to properly defeat them. That, combined with tilting the screen forward and precisely aiming does add difficulty to the experience, and it sounds a little unintuitive initially, but it’s not so bad. You get used to it.
In the end, A Ride Into the Mountains evokes an emotional response, taking a more heightened approach that focuses on a few simple mechanics. But even though the game isn’t particularly deep or new, it stands out because it doesn’t try to be louder our better than anything else. It’s quiet, moody, and just challenging enough to keep the experience engaging. And for just $0.99, it sure ain’t a bad deal.
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