Review: Alto’s Odyssey
(App Store) (Play Store)
While the gameplay is simplistic and the price is high for an endless runner, this title offers a blast to the past in terms of pure entertainment. The music is minimalistic and relaxing, the sound design mimics that, and there’s no microtransactions or daily login rewards urging you to return. This also means that you might forget about the game, but it doesn’t care. It’s there if you need it.
If you’re looking for a groundbreaking gaming experience, keep looking. If you’re looking to relax or blow off some steam, Alto’s Odyssey is for you.
I’d heard plenty of positive reviews for this game, but I could never quite see the appeal from looking at the product’s page. Sure, I thought, it was pretty, but it was still asking $5.00 for an infinite runner. And in case you’re not familiar with the App markets these days, $5.00 is five times more than the most people typically charge for an infinite runner. Most of them are free. Sure, they might have a coin system for a few skins or maybe a $2.99 Remove Ads feature, but the base price is free. What made this game so special?
Booting up the app greets players with a big “Headphones Recommended” text block. I obeyed, not wanting to miss out on the full experience, and was met with an interesting quiet acoustic and electronic mix of cute little tunes. It gave off a very relaxing vibe. Which was, to say the least, confusing. Why was this music so relaxing?
All I knew about Odyssey at the time was that it is an infinite runner title. Infinite runners are not typically relaxing. They’re stressful, requiring quick reactions and quicker thinking in order to either keep up with the pace of the camera or escape an ever-advancing wall of death. Some titles you might have heard of include: Doodle Jump, Jetpack Joyride, Temple Run, Piano Tiles, Subway Surfers, and many, many more. These titles are a rush of speed and a strain on their players, and their themes are usually fast-paced or wacky to compensate. So why was this so… relaxing?
Let’s jump forward some ten or twenty minutes, to when I understand why the game’s music is relaxing: Through most of Odyssey, there’s no death wall chasing after you. There’s nothing that will kill you if you decide to take it slow. Instead, every once and a while, there’s a short jump that you’ll need to be going fast enough to make, but you’ll usually get enough warning that a jump is coming soon enough to prep, even if you have been moving more slowly. It’s a cool change of pace to be sure, and I certainly understand the quiet aesthetic.
Then I stopped playing and went to bed. The next morning, I had forgotten about the game. And the next. And the next. And the next week. And a month. And another month. Not until this morning, where about three months later, I picked up the game again.
There’s something simply adorable about how quiet Odyssey is – How it keeps to itself, something mobile games rarely do these days. Forget some games not having microtransactions – this game doesn’t even have notifications. I’d be hard-pressed to find a game with no option to enable notification alerts, but Odyssey is just that. It’s quiet. It’s content on its own.
So I think I’ll keep it. It’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of player interaction or game mechanics, but it is quiet, and simple, and the music is nice, and the sounds are nice too. And there’s the art style, which is nothing short of simply breathtaking.
It’s an overall pleasing and wholesome experience, with some very visible wit and talent. And among all the cash-hungry mega-games that clog mobile gaming these days, a it’s an experience worth investing in.
Featured Image via the Alto’s Odyssey Official Website