Sometimes in life it’s important to take a step back and breathe. We have all had our rough days, be it work, school, relationships, or any of the other number of things in life that can take their toll. Which is why many of us turn to video games. The sense of fun and accomplishment, or sometimes a brief escape, is all we need to rejuvenate ourselves. And I think The Alto Collection fits perfectly in the latter category.
The Alto Collection is a simple endless runner game, where the only button you need to use is A. You use it to jump and do backflips while avoiding obstacles, collecting coins, and completing simple challenges. Each time a trick is landed, such as grinding or a backflip, you’re granted a speed boost that lasts for a brief period of time, and it even allows you to pass through obstacles unscathed. They also cause your scarf to grow, and it gets longer and longer the more points you get. Originally released for mobile, The Alto Collection is out now on Xbox One, and it really is the quintessential endless runner.
The low-poly art style is just incredible to look at. The backgrounds are dynamic and change as you progress down the snowy mountain in Alto’s Adventure or across the vast desert in Alto’s Odyssey. Alto’s Adventure is filled with small villages, woodsy forests, and chasms, while Odyssey is packed with hot air balloons, temple ruins, waterfalls… and even more chasms.
The beautiful visuals are accented by a day and night cycle that introduces both fiery red sunsets and cool blue night skies. And there is even a weather cycle that introduces snow, rain, and thunderstorms. It all comes together to make a game that is so visually compelling that any frame could be taken and turned into a wallpaper, so take advantage of the included photo mode.
All of this is accompanied by an absolutely gorgeous soundtrack that is incredibly easy to get lost in, and even as I write this review I find myself listening along to it to unwind. I’m sure the developers, Serenity Forge and Team Alto, know this full well, which is why the game includes a Zen mode.
In Zen mode, there is no failure – only you and the captivating soundtrack and graphics. I’m not a medical professional by any means – I mean, I studied journalism – but I feel like this game is actively lowering my blood pressure. Even while playing, losing doesn’t feel like a hard blow. I simply select try again and begin my journey anew.
As a game, there really aren’t any negatives, and as an endless runner I think it’s a near-perfect experience. My only complaint is that there aren’t more maps and more soundtracks to enjoy, and that’s born out of my greed for more to experience than any actual shortcomings of the game.
Alto’s Adventure was released before Alto’s Odyssey and there isn’t much of a difference in play between the two apart from the visual and soundtrack changes. The most notable exceptions are that in Alto’s Odyssey it is possible to purchase a sandboard from the in-game shop that will allow you to ride along the walls of certain background structures. This adds a fun new dynamic that adds to the experience but isn’t so defining that it detracts from those who prefer the snowy landscape of Alto’s Adventure.
Which I am incredibly grateful for, because as someone who has grown up in the northern regions of the midwest United States, I’ve always loved the winter and the piles of snow that come with it. Watching the snowflakes flicker as they fall and seeing the moonlight shimmer on it is one of the most tranquil experiences I think there is, and Alto’s Adventure captivates that feeling so well.
And it would be a shame not to mention that beyond just the soundtrack, the in-game sound has been lovingly crafted to build up the sense of environment. The birds gently chirping in the background, the patter of the raindrops, the rush of the wind, and even the lovely chimes that denote picking up of coins and scoring of points. Nothing feels out of place and it culminates into one of the most relaxing gaming experiences I’ve ever had.
All that being said, it’s important to realize going into The Alto Collection that there isn’t a ton of crazy action and it won’t be an incredibly stimulating experience. And if you go into it expecting there to be a ton of wacky gameplay, with ridiculous tricks and feats to accomplish, then you’ll probably come away disappointed. It was also designed as a mobile game first and that is evident in its very minimalist gameplay, which may turn some people off.
On the other hand, if you want to unwind after a long day then this is the perfect little game collection. It can be picked up for a couple of minutes or easily turn into a couple of hours. If you want a calming game that’s just a treat from start to finish, then I wholeheartedly recommend picking up The Alto Collection on Xbox One.