Alto’s Adventure – Sometimes, Innovative Gameplay Is Not The Key to Success

I know. I know. The title seems counterintuitive, considering that every single developer knows how important it is to try and bring something new to the table when working on a game.

The more original, the better, especially when it comes to gameplay mechanics. After all, that’s what mobile users want, considering they generally don’t have time to sit around and admire the graphics.

Well, Alto’s Adventure seems to prove that this is not always the case. 

And I can safely say this gives all of us developers hope, and takes off some of the pressure. While it’s a good idea to aim high and make your game as original and innovative as possible in the gameplay department, it’s not always a must.

Alto's Adventure shows developers that winning players over isn't always about innovative gameplayCLICK TO TWEET

Of course, you can only afford to do that if you manage to compensate in other areas very, and I mean very, very well. Fortunately, the game did this in the graphics and atmosphere departments, while maintaining the gameplay simple and straightforward.

Is the price fair?

Since this game features basic endless runner mechanics, you would expect it to be free. However, that is not the case.

The price Snowman developers ask for this game is $3, a price that many users might consider too steep, and I wouldn’t disagree with them. But this isn’t the first endless runner that does this. Boson X asked the same amount as well, and it was still successful.

But Boson X had unique gameplay elements as well as a unique design, so it offered players the best of both worlds.

Well, I’ll show you that Alto’s Adventure still manages to rise to the challenge, even though it doesn’t focus a lot on revamping gameplay features.

Moreover, the developers did players a solid with the in-game Workshop menu, where users can buy Items and Upgrades with the Coins they collect during their playthroughs. I’m talking about the fact that they actually had an opportunity to implement IAPs over here, but they chose not to do it.

While they might lose some revenue, they will gain users’ trust, something that will offer a higher return on investment in the long run. Plus, this also gives players that extra motivation boost they need to keep on playing.

Alto’s Adventure – A well-chosen name

App store optimization-wise, Snowman did a good job. The game is really easy to find, and even though you might run into a copy or 2, you won’t have any trouble telling them apart.

I believe the name was an excellent choice because it sticks with players. I mean, when you think of the word “Adventure” in the title, you want to know what that adventure is. It piques users’ curiosity, and it offers that small boost that some of them might need to press the “Buy” button.

What's great about a name like Alto's Adventure is that it makes players start asking questionsCLICK TO TWEET

Plus, it helps players get familiar with the main character from the start. They haven’t entered the game, but they’ve already met the main character. Unlike Boson X, where players met their characters in-game, Alto’s Adventure makes a friendly first impression with its title, an impression that sticks with users as they already experience familiarity when they first open the game.

So what did Snowman do to get such a satisfied audience?

Well, the main aspect they focused on in this game is the atmosphere. And they did a great job if I may say so myself. There are few endless runners out there that try to put emphasis on the atmosphere and immersivity. Instead, they just focus on the gameplay.

However, it’s an endless runner we’re talking about in the end. The gaming experience is bound to get boring and repetitive, despite the fact that levels are randomly generated.

But, if you offer your users a hint of a story, an overwhelmingly great atmosphere, and continuous objectives that get more interesting as they progress, players will have a reason to keep playing. Just promoting a high score achievement won’t cut it anymore. 

So, what’s the game all about? Well, at its core, Alto’s Adventure is your typical endless runner. Players keep going and jumping over obstacles until they make a mistake and start over.

Luckily, Snowman didn’t settle for the typical title.

They added a small sense of storytelling, meaning they have users start each run by going downhill after the llamas that ran away. It all starts out with the simple goal of getting back their llamas, but, as they progress, the objectives will change more and more, and become a lot challenging.

The main idea behind the game is for players to score as many points as they can, as it all accumulates into a larger sum of Coins. Like I previously mentioned, they use the Coins to buy Items and upgrade some of their equipment and power-ups.

And it’s not just standard Items, as there is also the option to get a Wingsuit to make the entire experience that more enjoyable.

I don’t really know how many levels are in the game, but I have heard reviewers say there are over 70 of them, which would be expected of a game that costs $3. So, when it comes to content, we can say that Alto’s Adventure delivers on its promises.

Now, I could spend the rest of the review talking about how fluent the mechanics are and how much fun users can have with them (which is very true), but I won’t. I would much rather focus on the aspects of the game that make it stick with players. After all, in this case, that’s what keeps users coming back for more.

First of all, as I am sure you have already noticed from the screenshots, the graphics are simply amazing and beautiful for an endless runner. To be completely honest, I haven’t seen this much emphasis being put on details and immersivity in a mobile endless runner before.

Put simply, the graphics in Alto’s Adventure give off that indie vibe so many indie games surprisingly lack. It’s got a cozy, friendly feel, which is what many players are looking for in these kinds of games, considering the somber tone or exaggerated flashy aesthetics have already been used up by other games on the market.

Not only this, but the developers went the extra mile and actually added weather effects and a day-night cycle in the game. Now that’s something few players have experienced in an endless runner.

And all I can say about this is that it works wonderfully. It boosts immersivity, which is something few endless runners can claim they have, and further enhances the beauty of the atmosphere. Basically, what this means for you is that players will be willing to play the game for longer periods of time, as it won’t mentally tire them so quickly.

Furthermore, the soundtrack they added in the game blends in perfectly with the overall tone of Alto’s Adventure. It features sounds of nature, like birds chirping, and it’s incredibly relaxing, which only further contributes to alleviating the user fatigue I mentioned above.

In short, all of those aspects make this game the kind of endless runner users play in their spare time to relax, not when they are on a short break at work. It’s the kind of difference that dictates whether or not a mobile game will be relevant on the market and have a decent lifespan.

One last thing I loved about this game, and I got to say this really shows how much attention Snowman paid to details, is the pause system.

At first, you might not think much of it, as it’s your standard pause system. Users press “Pause”, and the game pauses. But the magic happens when players resume the game. Instead of flinging them right in the action, which might cause them to make a mistake, the game gives them 3 seconds to get their bearings.

This is an excellent feature, since there is a chance players will have to suddenly pause the game because something came up, like a phone call, for instance. That 3-second window is what allows them not to have to worry about losing their high score and progress.

As for drawbacks, the only one I can see really bugging some players would be some of the level design. Sometimes, foliage, specifically trees, will get in the foreground. It might not be a problem at first, but they can sometimes block the user’s view, and they end up not seeing incoming obstacles they need to jump over.

While this might have been an aesthetic choice, it doesn’t work for everyone. However, in the end, I doubt it’s something that would annoy players so much that they would quit playing the game.