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A Ride Into the Mountains is a simple indie title floating under the radar that has managed to be particularly eye catching towards critics, who are giving the game universal praise for its elegant design and almost poetic minimalist approach. At its core it's simply a game about archery, in which you as a young lad ride to fend off a demonic presence that has tainted your land, but with simple controls and a unique aesthetic, it really manages to suck you in.
The archery controls are relative. You can touch and pull anywhere on the screen and your bow will aim in the same relative direction. The longer you hold the string back, the farther your arrow will fly upon release. Tilting the device lets you steer your horse to avoid enemies and set up attacks. Soon enemies are using tricky patterns, or you have to deal with things like strong wind currents. You'll also get a focus shot ability, which charges up over time over constantly. This slows everything down and adds a trajectory line for your shot.
There isn't really much to say about the story. It's just about a boy investigating this darkness that has tainted the land and split apart these runes of light. Along his journey, the boy remembers a lot about his father and childhood, and along with these poignant moments come upgrades in the form of more health or focus. The difficulty of the game progresses very evenly, with unique perspectives or enemy types, and each area has its own boss demon to shoot down. Each area also offers a new twist or gimmick.
It's not really a game for the arcade or action fan. It's a beautiful, elegant indie title that offers a memorable experience above all else. The pixel art and chip tunes set the tone perfectly. There are achievements to earn as well. One thing to say about this game is just how challenging it gets. I'm sure it's still not nearly as hard as actually shooting arrows from horseback, but they sure nailed some aspects of that frustration. This game won't appeal to everyone, but if unique and elegant games are your cup of tea, you'll love this one. You can snag it for one dollar, and it's iOS universal.