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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Coming home to Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City

Sliding down a string of lanterns in the Lost City.

On July 16 Team Alto1 released Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City on Apple Arcade. It’s a sequel of sorts to Alto’s Odyssey, released three years ago on the App Store.

In both games, you’re a sandsurfer endlessly sliding down mountainsides, doing backflips and grinding on cables and ruins for points while collecting coins and other items hidden along your path. Yes, it’s an “endless runner” of a sort—but what makes it special is its relatively simple mechanic and its gorgeous graphics and music, which end up making the game much more peaceful and calming than you’d expect.

And let me put my cards on the table: Alto’s Odyssey is my favorite iOS game ever.

Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City is the original brought to a new audience via Apple Arcade—but with a new biome, featuring new graphics, music, and challenges. If you’re a newbie to Alto’s Odyssey, you can play the entire game from the beginning and get the whole experience. If you’re a veteran like me, there’s a button you can tap in the app’s settings to import all of your information from Alto’s Odyssey, letting you concentrate on the added content and challenges of the new game.

It’s still great. As a fan of the PlayStation game Journey (available on iOS, by the way), I’m amused by just how many homages to that game are contained within Alto’s Odyssey. The music and graphics in the original game were immaculate, but The Lost City just adds more.

Yes, the Lost City is beautiful at night, too.

When you arrive at the Lost City biome—which requires you to find ten map fragments scattered across the sands—you’ll see new background images, be able to interact with a few new object types, and of course the music will shift, too. Rather than add on to the old game’s existing level system, Team Alto has also introduced a new set of challenges, which you pick up as you explore. In a new mechanic, you can only “arm” a single challenge at any time, so there’s a single task you are trying to accomplish as you slide, flip, and grind.

And of course, there’s still Zen Mode, which lets you enjoy the sound and sights of this beautiful game without having to worry about scores or the game ending when you crash. I find it therapeutic. I wish more games would embrace the “you can’t lose, we’re just here to have a good time” ethos in more places.

When I completed my final tasks on Alto’s Odyssey, it was a bittersweet ending: I had conquered the game, but it also felt like a goodbye to something I loved. I’ve revisited the game a few times over the last couple of years, usually in Zen mode. Discovering The Lost City has given me a reason to revisit an old favorite, and I’m so glad I did.

And I’m also glad that Apple and Team Alto found a way to bring this game—plus a little bit extra—to a new audience. If you’ve got Apple Arcade, drop everything and get to the sandy slopes of Alto’s Odyssey: The Lost City.


  1. Team Alto is a collaboration between development studios Snowman and Land & Sea. 

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