Mention gaming and most people’s minds will conjure up images of a fair amount of action, often garnished with lots of violence — think PUBG, Fortnite, Clash of Clans and so on. Gaming is supposed to be a hectic hobby, needing attention and sharp reflexes and more often than not, a strong stomach. Even relatively casual games like Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds or Temple Run have an element of speed and quick thinking about them.
But not all games are like that. In fact, some of the greatest games we have seen have been so calming that they can almost claim to be Zen masters in app form.
If that sounds difficult to believe, we suggest you try out Alto’s Odyssey, one of the best games of 2018, and available for both iOS and Android. The game is the sequel to Alto’s Adventure released a few years ago, the game is absurdly simple to play. And insanely addictive in the nicest possible manner even though it is, like Temple Run, essentially an “endless runner.”
But it is an endless runner that is surprisingly peaceful. Alto, the hero of the game, is not running away from anything. He is just skating up and down sand dunes. And sometimes he goes across rocks, hops on to ropes and even gets close to air balloons. All the time he is skating and collecting coins which can get him some goodies (in the first game, he was chasing some Llamas that had escaped from his farm but this time, even they are not around). But honestly, after a while you do not really care about how far he goes and how much gold he manages to get into his pockets.
Because this game is not really about distance or money. Just as in the case of real travel, Alto’s Odyssey is about the journey, rather than the destination. The boy keeps skating across the sand, sometimes doing the odd cartwheel, sometimes picking up power ups that make him go faster, but you are never really concerned about where he will reach and when. Yes, you do attempt to steer him clear of trip-ups, but these do not come thick and fast — in fact, the pace of Alto’s Odyssey is not very hectic. You are unlikely to feel the need for any sort of speed while playing it.
What you ARE likely to feel, rather oddly, is a sense of peace. The graphics of the game are 2D and minimalistic. There is no riot of colours here but just a few shades, though even those change as the time of the day changes — yes, morning moves into noon and noon into evening as Alto slides along. There are birds in the sky, and you will see the weather change also as Alto goes along on his journey. All you can hear most of the time is the soothing music playing and the almost hypnotic sound of Alto’s board over the sand. Controls are simplistic — you just need to tap the screen to do anything. No menus, no complex skills or stunts. Just a boy skating through the sand.
It is so brilliantly peaceful, that the game even has a Zen mode in which you can just sit back and let Alto slide away, and not bother about him hitting at obstacle. You can just sit back and enjoy the spectacle and the experience that the game is.
There is nothing jaw dropping or mind blowing about Alto’s Odyssey. There is a lot of mind soothing about it, though. Which is why we really think that all travellers will just love it. It is free on Android and costs Rs 399 on iOS. Our advice? Download. Play. Relax. There are not too many games about which we can say that.
Download Alto’s Odyssey: