Games of the Year 2019: Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a magic game of pure sensation

December 27, 2019
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Over the festive break we’ll be running through our top 20 picks of the year’s best games, leading up to the reveal of Eurogamer’s game of the year on New Year’s Eve. You can find all the pieces published to date here – and thanks for joining us throughout the year!

Sometimes, playing Lonely Mountains: Downhill, I can’t help but think the aim of the game is to stop playing it. On the surface this is a game about going downhill fast, about beating the clock, cutting corners, sprinting. The race to the finish often ends in a rush of relief, above all, that you’ve made it there intact. And then at the same time it’s the absolute opposite: tranquility, calm, an invitation to stay a while and just listen. At once you’re baited into crashing through it and challenged into slowing down for a ponder.

I could, honestly, leave it there. Lonely Mountains’ tug-of-war between styles of play is enough in itself, the game a clever little buried lede of one kinetic, mechanical thing on the surface (timers, challenges, sprint buttons, checkpoints) and another, more contemplative, just beneath (crunching leaves, branching paths, hidden oases with fallen trunks to sit on and views to be quietly taken in). But there is so, so much more going on here. Lonely Mountains is, above all, a game about experience – about the act of experiencing, in fact – and played through that lens it’s not just clever, it’s divine.

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