Sawbuck Gamer

A Ride Into The Mountains

Riding Bareback

A Ride Into The Mountains is a stirring quest—if you can hang on.

By Matt Gerardi • August 5, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

It’s fitting that a galloping horse was the first thing to be photographed as a moving image. Even with primordial technology, Eadweard Muybridge’s famous 1878 experiment captured the speed and physicality of riding a horse in full-gallop. A Ride Into The Mountains aims for the same vicarious equestrian excitement but doesn’t quite replicate it.

Ride’s story is as simple as its pixel-art visuals. Zu’s family has guarded a relic for generations. One day, a black meteor crashes near his home, and the relic is tainted. Zu grabs his bow, mounts his horse, and sets out to fix things by shooting lots of monsters and tapping into his family’s special slow-down-time-and-aim technique. His horse runs through fields and ravines automatically, but the game asks you to tilt your device to dodge projectiles and monsters. This is Ride’s humongous flaw. The tilting isn’t precise enough for some of its tougher challenges. Many of the hits I took felt unfair, like there was some invisible force holding me in place or constantly pushing me back—even while I tilted the crap out of my iPad. Tilting the screen also means sometimes moving the playing field out of a good viewing angle. I took many blind shots, and it was hard to tell if the sensation I felt when nailing an impressive blow was satisfaction or relief.

Despite its simple art style, Ride nails just enough details, like the way wind tosses around the mane of Zu’s horse while it gallops up crudely pixellated mountainsides, to create a sense of adventure. But as thrilling as it looks, I never felt thrilled. I was too busy struggling to hang on.

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2 Responses to “Riding Bareback”

  1. George_Liquor says:

    It seems Intellivision graphics have become the video game analogue to grainy, sepia-toned film effects used in depicting historical events that long pre-date the invention of photography. 

  2. Merve says:

    The odd spelling of “Eadweard” sent me to Wikipedia to figure out what that was all about. It turns out that Muybridge (né Muggeridge) really liked messing around with his name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge#Names