106965_largerSometimes it's best to dispense with the bells and whistles. Sometimes it's refreshing to see a game free of bloat, with no mediocre ideas, just doing one thing very well. A Ride into the Mountains [$0.99] does just that. Developers Chia-Yu Chen and Lee-Kuo Chen present a simple story through basic gameplay and a stunning pixelated setting.

As "Zu," you ride off to explore a mysterious relic. The story is basic, and I don't remember much of the details because, frankly, they aren't so important. Most of the game is spent riding horseback and firing arrows at baddies.

You use tilt controls to steer the horse, and pull back and aim to fire arrows. It's like Angry Birds, but instead of pulling back more to shoot farther, you pull back for a longer period of time. I wasn't into this at first. I wanted to shoot fast and furious, but it does match the games thoughtful, contemplative pace.

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Simply shooting enemies isn't enough. You've got to know when and where to shoot, and figuring it out is a nice little meta game. It'd be a stretch to call them puzzles, but they do make A Ride into the Mountains a bit challenging and more than just a shooting gallery. The tilt controls weren't my favorite, but they were reasonably well done and not a huge hindrance to gameplay. They also add some much needed challenge.

Though the gameplay remains basically the same, with minor additions like a nice bullet time-type feature, each level's setting is very distinctive. There are stages in bird's-eye view and in profile. In between levels, the story advances very slowly, and you get a nice proverb while you're feeding your horse and relaxing by the fire.

The gameplay and story are fine, but not that interesting. The visuals, on the other hand, are gorgeous. The developers understand that games don't necessarily need more things on the screen to engage. Sometimes, a beautiful, colorful sunset or a clear, reflective lake can be more effective than high resolution graphics.

If Bob Ross had been a level designer, he might have made A Ride into the Mountains, because these are some happy trees, indeed. Your horse moves with grace, and the art is fluid and clear. The music and sounds are just as good, quiet and peaceful sometimes, but driving and purposeful when necessary.

The graphics evoke Another World, and the mood recalls Team Ico, but on a much smaller scale. It never attains the emotional rush of Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, but it never really tries.

This isn't a novelistic game. It's poetic. It doesn't say much, but it says it with quiet elegance.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • slamraman

    Sparse.

  • diaskeaus

    I was skeptical at first after reading complaints about tilt controls, bought the game and played it. Yes, the tilt controls are not terrible, but they should be more responsive. I'll say this: I know exactly what to do to not die, but the tilt always kills me. Too early, too late, and so on.

    After playing through the same level 5 or 6 times, I get dizzy. So yes, tilt is something that needs to be addressed.

    • Alex

      I see your point about tilt controls, but I believe as the reader stated, thought went into why they decided on what they did.

      Like many games, you have to adjust yourself to the control scheme to get the best experience out of the game. Like how in badlands you tap to fly, or in sky tourist you push the left and right rockets up an down to move your character on screen.

      If they change it, it might make the game easier for more people, but that might not be what they intended. Imagine if PacMan or Pinball were easier. It's not always about the controls, but learning how to use them.

  • TheEvilRobot

    I'm glad this got a good score. :)

    • Alex

      The score all depends on the mood of the reviewer. It's better to read what the review is saying then go by the score, because on this site, it merely means, "I feel like this game was a x star game".

      Besides, the review was well written and informative and conveyed the spirit that I believe the developers were trying to get across. I'm gonna go grab this game later this week.

  • thesidewaystable

    Should be 5 star

    • xx99

      Do we have to do this on every single review? YOU would rate it 5 stars, but there are other people, including the reviewer, who wouldn't.

      Posts like this put pressure on reviewers to overthink their final score and artificially adjust their own score to make readers happy. That is bad! We should read reviews knowing they are written subjectively from the author's point of view.

      • demod1

        Pressure on the reviewer? Lets not over exaggerate. Everyone gets an opinion here, right?

      • Alex

        Like myself, many people agree with you. I really wish TouchArcade would change the rating system to avoid these types of issues and then no one can complain about a star rating.

        You should note that it's been made abundantly clear by the mods that the score is not based on a system of fact that applies to all games. It is based on the sole reviewers feeling of the game, much like their review. I think the review itself was written well and the game looks great, but take no count in the star rating system here as it means nothing more than, "this feels like a x star game to me". The individual reviewer might have used a personal rating system, but it is by no means a site-wide universal rating. This has nothing to do with the review itself though as it will always be subjective... and that's okay.

      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        Exactly. This is why stars should be removed completely. They have absolutely no meaning to anybody other than the reviewer.

    • themostunclean

      Always gotta be one. Damn that half a star!!!

  • Ollivar Frank

    The only good thing I read was about the scenery and sound. This game sounds more like a boring movie than a game.

  • phoopee3

    I really like this game. Everyone would be complaining if it had a virtual dpad as well. And it would mess up the aesthetic to have a control on the screen. The tilt controls are fine. My main complaint with them is that you can't recalibrate them via a menu. Love the replayability once you beat it too.

  • xx99

    The game is great and there are plenty of in-game achievements that unlock new bow types you can use if you play the game, so there's some replay value if you dig it. It is also one of those games like Sworcery or Year Walk where it's more of an experience, so I can see some players being perfectly content with a single playthrough while others will try to get all the achievement runes.

    The biggest problem with the tilt controls (and nobody else has mentioned it so far) is that you can't stay still. I think this is to simulate a horse and add to the challenge, but I hated it. You can tilt and move around just fine, but when you want to stay still, you simply can't unless you're hugging the edge of the screen.

  • 28monkeys

    Why do the game feel like Shadow of Colossus to me ?

    • loophole

      Shadow of colossus port plz!!

  • flashbackflip

    Wow! Very poetic review! And it sold me the game. Thank you. Installing

  • Odulin

    Bought yesterday and after 8 levels I can say I like this game....and I'm OK with tilt controls.

  • http://www.mercubuana.ac.id/ ryditya909

    great review

  • thesidewaystable

    I THINK that I would of given this game 5 star but that's just my opinion .different people think different things about games than others but if I was the reviewer I would give this 5 stars for it's addictive gameplay and wonderful experience .

  • phonecats

    same pull to shoot mechanic as angry birds.
    anything is possible.
    games inspirational.
    they wanted to close the patent office in the 80s...

    • thesidewaystable

      Sub to you on YT

  • Quazonk

    "The gameplay and story are fine, but not that interesting. 4.5 stars" I'm sorry, but that is ridiculous. You are giving a game a 90% score with gameplay that is not that interesting. The massive focus on presentation really stopped me from taking this review seriously, and instead made me take with a grain, if not an entire shaker, of salt. Poor review IMO.

  • Gatada

    Nobody thinks about original Prince of Persia when seeing this graphics?

  • Ian Monroe

    I loved the direct Shadow of the Colossus references
    The horse's name is even Agro backwards

A Ride into the Mountains Reviewed by David Clarke on . Rating: 4.5