Tag Archives: Alto’s Adventure

Windosill’s interactive environmental objects are a joy to click

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At some point last year while I was deep into Alto’s Adventure, the stylishly difficult endless snowboarder with runaway llamas, and conducting research on it for this blog post, I discovered a sensory-tingling clicky sojourn called Windosill, which clearly had an impact and influence on Snowman’s developers. Not necessarily from a gameplay perspective, as Windosill is all about logic/illogical puzzles and clicking around and less about collecting escaped llamas and nailing that third backflip in a row, but certainly from a visual standpoint. There’s a colorful, crispness to the flat, almost childish shapes in both games, and I think the simplicity works great and adds a surprising amount of character to the environments and their surrounding objects.

Anyways, I only played the first few levels of Windosill for free via the game’s website. I filed it away in my brain as a delight and something I should check out fully…y’know, down the road. Well, that finally happened. I got a copy of the game on Steam during the most recent summer sale for $0.98, along with Lilly Looking Through, Disney Mega Pack: Wave 2, and Voodoo Garden. I’m only calling those additional purchases out here so that I don’t forget about them because, until I just went through my purchase history now to figure out when I had acquired a copy of Windosill, I totally forgot about them. Oops. That’s the trouble these days, if you are me.

In short, Patrick Smith’s Windosill is a puzzle game with no instructions or words, other than the title screen text. You’re left to figure out how to unlock each level’s door and move the main character, which is a wooden, toy locomotive, on to the next level by sliding it through the opening. Which, by the way, is immensely satisfying. The end goal is the same for each level, but the journey to it varies greatly. You’ll have to interact with numerous items in the environment by clicking on them and seeing what happens. It’s all about experimenting and being curious, observing what happens when you click once versus holding down the mouse button or holding it down and dragging. What’s nice is knowing that everything you need to unlock the door is contained in the single level, and you will eventually solve the puzzle. It’s more of a drag, tug, and spin adventure game than a point and clicker.

Windosill is joyous. The game’s tone is friendly and dreamlike, and there’s a absurd creativeness to each environment that will leave a smile on your face and keep you guessing moment to moment. I both didn’t want to complete a level and also was super excited to see what came next. Each object you encounter, whether it’s a big ball on a tiny stem or a window in the wall or a plain-looking cone, has character, with its own weight and ability to be squished or stretched or manipulated. I messed with every single thing I could. I had some minor problems playing this on Steam rather than an iPad when trying to stretch or spin some items intensely or drag the cursor too far to the edge of the screen. Nothing major, but it definitely seems better designed for a touch-based interface. Evidently, the iPad version also has a sketchbook gallery, a level selection, and a translucent mode that allows players to see how levels are put together with 3D polygons. That’s pretty cool.

There’s a bunch of other strange, click-heavy freebies to try out on Vectorpark’s website, which certainly all look intriguing and similar to Windosill. However, with this sort of experience, where discovery is better than completion and experimentation is king, I might need to pace myself accordingly. Otherwise, I’ll end up in an alternate universe where I’m tugging, poking, twisting, flicking everything in my path, and no one wants that.

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Runaway llamas don’t stand a chance in Alto’s Adventure

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I think I can confidently say that, of all the winter sports out there, I’d be most inclined to try my hand–or rather feet–at snowboarding. Something about skis and the way your legs move and cross between one another scares the life out of me. Sure, sure…the reality of being locked then to a single board might not be a safer bet, but somewhere in my mind I’ve come to terms with this as the better, easier to grasp option. Granted, I wouldn’t be doing the same death-defying actions as seen in Alto’s Adventure, keeping myself constrained to the bunny slopes and nothing crazier than that.

Here’s a truth-pill to swallow: I downloaded Alto’s Adventure from the Windows 10 store not because it was free, but rather because its logo was stylish as heck and contained a llama inside the letter a. Guess that’s all it takes to hook me deep since I knew next to nothing else about the game at that point. Turns out, it’s an endless runner. Er, endless snowboarder. Endless llama collector? It’s one of those things, and here’s how the developer Snowman pitches it from their website: “Alto’s Adventure is an endless snowboarding odyssey, set against a beautiful and ever changing alpine landscape. The game features fluid physics-based movement, procedurally generated terrain and stunning dynamic lighting and weather effects. The core mechanic centers around an easy to learn, yet difficult to master one button trick system that allows you to chain together increasingly more elaborate trick combos to maximize the players speed and compete for high scores and distances.”

Basically, this is how your time on the mountain goes in Alto’s Adventure. You click start, and your protagonist begins to snowboard towards the right side of the screen. As you zip forward, you want to collect runaway llamas, coins, and power-ups, as well as hit ramps to do tricks and chain together many into a single combo for a hefty amount of points. The mechanic is simple, but tough to learn; press the jump button to land on roofs and ropes to automatically grind, and if you press and hold the jump button, you’ll begin to do a backflip. Knowing when and for how long to hold that jump button is key. When you land a successful trick, you are granted a temporary speed boost and blip of invincibility. There are also obstacles to avoid, such as chasms, rocks, and angry elders that will chase after you for disrupting their…I dunno, elderly sleep.

Visually, Alto’s Adventure is a beast. No, not the domesticated South American camelid kind that you are constantly trying to nab, but rather a discernible powerhouse. The graphics are minimalist, but highly evocative. I won’t say they outshine Journey, but they are hanging out in the same boat, for sure. There’s a full day/night cycle as you do each run, with fully dynamic lighting and weather effects, including thunderstorms, blizzards, fog, rainbows, shooting stars, and more. There is something hauntingly beautiful about racing through the snow as a storm cracks and flashes off in the background and surviving it all to watch the sun rise and cast its warm, orange-yellow rays on every edge of the landscape. Despite the levels being randomly generated from a bunch of similar parts, each run still feels highly unique.

My next favorite aspect besides the visuals is the goals system. It’s pretty much the same idea from Jetpack Joyride, wherein you are tasked with completing three goals while trying to handle your main goal of just getting as far as possible. Sometimes these goals are simple and naturally occurring, such as collecting a number of coins or hitting a specific tier of points, and others are more challenging. The one I’m currently stuck on is asking me to do two triple backflips in one session. Eek. There are evidently 180 goals in total to nail, and doing these level you up, which is how unlocking new characters to play as is gated. Each character controls a little differently too.

I don’t mean this as a slight, but I’ve been enjoying Alto’s Adventure in the same manner that I do my clickers, like Time Clickers and AdVenture Capitalist. It’s something that I play in short bursts, clicking every now and then, and just sort of zoning out and relaxing as things happen around ,e. The early parts of a snowboarding run are especially calming, and I love zipping through a stretch of no obstacles and only sick jumps. There are absolutely moments where you are highly involved in timing your jumps and ensuring you don’t crash, but a lot of Alto’s Adventure‘s fun comes from taking in the sights and seeing how the world changes from one moment to the next, even when that next moment is you zooming headfirst into a pile of rocks hidden at the bottom of a steep slope.