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Alto's Adventure review: Worth your money for the visual experience

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The visuals are stunning

The first thing you'll notice as you leave your mountain village are the smooth-as-silk visuals as you begin your adventure. The snow dovetails up from your board as you speed down the mountain, and you'll encounter forests, other villages and ancient ruins that are all beautifully detailed.

What's really neat as you play is how the environment changes over time. You start in the daylight, but as you race down the mountain the sun will slowly go down into a sunset and finally into a moonlit night. Once night comes you'll have to be extra careful because certain obstacles appear only as silhouettes against the backdrop.

There are also weather changes that effect your run. Sometimes it will rain or snow to make it harder to navigate your path. This was one of the only problems I have with Alto's Adventure: When you combine the dark night with a swirling storm, it's almost impossible to keep your run going without hitting something.

Still, all of the lighting effects and scenery are what make this game special, so even when the inevitable crash comes you'll be amazed at all you saw to get there.

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When night falls it's harder to see where you're going, but it looks great. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Inevitable comparisons

It is impossible not to compare Alto's Adventure with 2012 hit Ski Safari. Even when it was released it had a bit more depth than Alto's Adventure. The ability to ride penguins, yeti's, birds, and snowmobiles all added new wrinkles to the escape down the mountain dynamic.

Since 2012 there have been numerous updates with new vehicles, seasonal items, and several new maps to explore. It's a fantastic game, but I wouldn't call it better than Alto's Adventure; just different.

Alto's Adventure doesn't have as many items to buy, nor as many vehicles to keep you alive. But even with the more straightforward approach, the game managed to delight and surprise me as I went down the mountain, mostly because of the scenery and graphics, but also with solid gameplay.

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If you're lucky you can outmanuever the mountain elder. I wasn't so lucky. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Conclusion

Alto's Adventure is not a new gaming concept, but a reimagining of other games we've seen before. The closest comparison from the endless runner genre is Ski Safari, but Alto's Adventure's strength is in the way it presents the content. In other words, when you're gliding through a dark, moonlit forest at night, the graphical style is undeniably the star of this game.

It's true that those who want a richer experience with more items, gadgets and power-ups should probably stick with the tried and true Ski Safari. But for a unique gaming experience that will wow you with stunning visuals, Alto's Adventure is very easy to recommend.

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