'Alto's Adventure' is the most beautiful iPhone game I've played this year

Steven Tweedie

Last year, I was blown away with the hauntingly beautiful game Monument Valley. This year, my new frontrunner for the most beautiful app of the year is Alto's Adventure, a serene and stylistic endless runner game where you control a mountain man named Alto as he snowboards down a mountain.

Every inch of this game is visually impressive and delightfully charming. You're introduced to Alto as his beloved llamas escape down the mountain. It's your job to catch them, and snowboarding past a llama captures it and gives you some points.

It's a little bit absurd to make a point system based on the number of llamas you collect but that's part of what makes Alto's Adventure so much fun. You can also collect coins to purchase new riders and upgrades in the village shops. Alto's Adventure doesn't have any in-app purchases, so you won't be tempted to drop real money.

As you make your way down each mountain, there's also obstacles to jump over, ramps to launch off to perform back flips, and ribboned rails to grind on. It's all physics-based gameplay, which helps you get into the game's rhythm while giving you cues like showing how fast you're going by how long Alto's scarf drags in the wind.

The game's controls keep things simple: Just tap the screen to jump, tap and hold to back flip, and if you can get your snowboarder onto a rail he'll grind it automatically. If you string together a series of jumps, flips, and grinds, you gain more points, which gives the game a bit of competitive feel like the classic Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or SSX Tricky games of old.

Each level has a different set of objectives that ask you to capture a certain number of llamas, nab a particular number of coins, or successfully jump over a certain number of obstacles.

But the most striking aspect of Alto's Adventure is the game's art style, which combines dynamic lighting and weather effects to create beautiful environments that stand out. The more you play, the more tiny details you notice, and the game's piano-based score makes headphones a must.

Alto's Adventure feels a bit like a mixture of Tiny Wings, Monument Valley, and SSX Tricky, and the result is gorgeous game that's fun to play too.

Alto's Adventure is currently available as universal app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, you can download it for $1.99 over at the App Store.

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