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Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City brings its new adventures to Apple Arcade

One of the world's most relaxing video games offers new content for Apple Arcade subscribers.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
3 min read

Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City is headed to Apple Arcade.


Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City hit Apple Arcade -- Apple's $5-a-month gaming service -- on Friday. This follow-up to the 2018 hit Alto's Odyssey and the original 2015 endless runner Alto's Adventure, follows Alto and his friends on a sand-boarding adventure across windswept desert dunes, but with new content and a mysterious new vibe.

The game sends players in search of The Lost City to explore canyons, temples and take to the skies with hot air balloons and wing suits. The game also offers a new biome -- The Lost City itself -- and continues its popular zen mode that eliminates scores, coins and power-ups for a more relaxing experience. 

Ahead of the game's launch, CNET spoke to Snowman CEO Ryan Cash, Harry Nesbitt, the co-creator of Alto's Odyssey, and Joel Herber, the game's senior programmer. The team says that whether you're coming to Alto's Odyssey for the first time, or you're a diehard fan, there's enhanced gameplay for everyone. 

"The Lost City is kind of a special edition of Alto's Odyssey," Nesbitt says. "We've tried to find that balance between adding value for existing players, so even if you've completed Odyssey, there's plenty of new stuff to engage with in this game." 

The team hopes playing the new Lost City biome will be like uncovering a mystery, according to Nesbitt, something totally distinct -- a vibrant, living and breathing city -- from the other biomes in the game. The new biome is elevated by reworked visuals and music as well. 


The longer you play, the longer your scarf gets. 


New tech, still zen

While the Alto series has always offered a peaceful, meditative experience, the team said the pandemic made them hyperaware of players using games as a distraction or coping mechanism. Last year, the creators made Alto's Adventure and Alto's Odyssey free for a limited time to download amid social distancing, quarantines and lockdowns. The games offer players an adventure escape of sorts while being stuck inside, or a reprieve from stress when playing in zen mode. The universal upheaval during the pandemic also led the team to reexamine playing video games for the joy of playing them, according to Herber. 

While Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City offers classic endless runner fun in a chill, lo-fi atmosphere, Apple's newest hardware gives the game an extra sparkle as well. The iPhone 12's A14 bionic chip and 5G capabilities mean smoother gameplay and polished graphics, but the team says players using lower-end devices will still have a solid experience playing Alto.


Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City offers traditional gameplay or a relaxing zen mode.


"Each time we return to the [Alto series] world and try to expand it a little bit, we want to make sure that we're doing so with respect to what's already come before," Nesbitt says of maintaining Alto's unwritten world rules, narrative and lore. 

While the Alto series eventually expanded across PC and Mac, iOS, Android and consoles, bringing Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City to Apple Arcade gives players another option to experience the game where they're most comfortable. The team is excited to see the audience ready and waiting, as well as the future audience it can build. 

The Alto series remains a collaboration between Snowman and Nesbitt's UK studio Land & Sea. Snowman's Skate City and Where Cards Fall are also available to play on Apple Arcade. In addition, Pok Pok, a new company "incubated" in Snowman, released Pok Pok Playroom in May.

"I think the game itself is a great fit for Apple Arcade because it's very accessible," Cash says. "It's a game you can play for a very long time."

Check out the original teaser trailer below: 

With the launch of Alto's Odyssey: The Lost City, Doodle God Universe and Angry Birds Reloaded, Apple Arcade is nearing 200 games with more still to come

If you're interested in trying Apple Arcade, you can get a three-month free trial of Apple Arcade with the purchase of a new device, or one month for free if you're signing up for the first time. Open the App Store and tap the little joystick icon at the bottom of the screen to launch the service. 

Another option is the Apple One subscription bundle which launched last year. Apple One makes it easier and more affordable to get up to six Apple subscription services, Apple Arcade included, for one price. Most recently, the service teamed up with Verizon to offer a free year-long subscription with unlimited plans.

For more, check out how Apple Arcade is still delivering for casual gamers and how Apple Arcade added 32 new games, NBA 2K21, Fantasian and classic reboots.

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