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‘Alto’s Odyssey’ aims to amplify adventure, without sacrificing serenity

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It’s been three years since Alto’s Adventure was released, and the sequel to the highly-praised infinite runner will soon see the light of day. On Thursday, video game developer Built By Snowman will launch Alto’s Odyssey, which takes Alto from the snowy climes to the majestic desert.

For those unfamiliar with the mobile game, Alto’s Adventure mirrors the atmosphere of snowboarding. The player taps on the screen to navigate Alto through various elements while also completing goals and collecting rewards. It also includes stunning visuals that act as a calming force within a fast-paced game.

With Alto’s Odyssey, lead artist and developer Harry Nesbitt and the team at Snowman — who refer to the collaboration as “Team Alto” — wanted to appeal to its existing fans as well as those who have yet to play the game. It was decided that mechanically, the game wouldn’t involve having to adjust to new control schemes. The ability to play comfortably one-handed was an important aspect of the game to adopt from its predecessor — making it more approachable and less complex for all types of players.

Team Alto ultimately wanted to build on what became the central part of the DNA Alto — which gave an extreme sport like snowboarding, a more relaxing flow through its design and controls. With its parabolic curves and propulsive downhill motion, the game allows you to build up speed, gain points, and crush obstacles in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re doing too much at once.

“We are constantly surprised and humbled by the fact that players will depict fan art of our characters or send in letters that Alto maybe helped them cope with some stress or some illness, and that’s something we never really could ever have foreseen when making that first game,” Eli Cymet, producer at Built By Snowman, told Digital Trends. “I think we really were thinking about what to put on the cutting room floor and what to advance to the next stage in terms of mechanics … we always had that player appreciation in the back of our minds around like, ‘Is this going to make the game more stressful?'”

Incorporating a calming nature into the gameplay, meant there was room to push boundaries elsewhere — specifically with Alto. In Alto’s Adventure, there was a cozy feel to it as users explored his home mountain — careening down hills amidst the forests with its lantern lit homes and villages, all blanketed with snow. This time around, it was important to create a new space filled with variety, which meant branching into territory that was uncharted — and creating multiple versions of a particular setting.

“We want every time you pick up the game to feel fresh and to feel like you’re experiencing a slightly different part of the world that you maybe played last time,” Harry Nesbitt, lead artist and developer of Alto’s Adventure and Alto’s Odyssey, told Digital Trends.

Since the mountain is the one natural space that you spend time in while playing the game, the team has added about a triple of the number of visual content and sites to see as it did in Alto’s Adventure. Ranging from snapping vines, rushing water inside the temple zone, wind tornadoes that propel you into the air, and more, the sequel sets out to amplify the experience of being in the desert through its unique mechanics.

Incorporating more hidden gems and details into Alto’s Odyssey also allows players to make the experience their own. “Hopefully the player projects certain narratives on their progression to the space based on the play session that they have. When they got a high score while they were boarding through a palm grove or something like that, that’s going to help it feel like it belongs to them,” Nesbitt explained.

As Alto’s Odyssey approaches its launch date, Team Alto isn’t looking to out-do themselves in comparison to the success of Alto’s Adventure. While they hope it will resonate in a new way with existing fans, both versions are meant to act as stand-alone experiences so that those who have never played Alto’s Adventure can jump right in without feeling confused. Both versions are meant to co-exist peacefully.

“I hope that players come away thinking of them both as these little places they can go for a few minutes of time each day. Depending on what mood they’re in and what kinds of emotions they wanna stir in themselves, maybe they’ll choose one over the other,” Cymet said.

Alto’s Odyssey is currently available for pre-order on the App Store and will cost you $5. It will officially launch for iOS on February 22.

This article was originally posted on Digital Trends

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