App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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There aren’t many great games about skiing out there. Grand Mountain Adventure proves this point by offering a simple open world chock full of pretty basic skiing challenges while somehow feeling incredibly fresh and satisfying. By focusing itself on the joyous sensation of gliding over snow, Grand Mountain Adventure makes for a surprisingly fun experience.
In Grand Mountain Adventure, you’re a skier plopped on a mountain and what you do there is pretty much up to you. You can ride any lift you want, follow specific slope trails, or jump off of ledges and flip into lakes. There’s nothing demanding that you do anything besides ski, though there are always some challenge courses on the mountain you can take on if you choose.
These challenges vary, but often end up being tests of your speed, maneuvering ability, or both. Many ask that you weave between gates like a slalomist, but every once in a while you might be asked to do some tricks or knock over other skiiers. Completing these challenges rewards you with access to other lifts and even new mountains to explore, all of which have their own unique geography and challenges for you to take on.
Carve your own path
Grand Mountain Adventure is an open-world game in the sense that you have full access to every inch of an individual mountain without hitting and load times or other barriers. Even riding lifts to certain sections of a mountain can be done in an instant, either by holding your finger down on the screen while riding or by warping to the top of a lift using the overworld map in the pause menu.
If you ever fail a challenge, Grand Mountain Adventure also features a nifty rewind button that instantly teleports you back up to the top of a challenge gate. From there, you can choose to try the challenge again, or simply go somewhere else. This freedom is part of what makes Grand Mountain Adventure so great. Despite being a game about using gravity to pull you down a mountain, the game never feels like it’s ever dragging you away from the things you want to do.
All of Grand Mountain Adventure’s freedom would be for naught if the feeling of skiing didn’t feel good. Thankfully, this seems like the thing the developers paid the most attention to while making the game. Although clearly not trying to simulate real-world skiing, this game had me reacting to certain challenges the same way I would if I encountered them while actually skiing: by strategically turning. Turning to gain or lose momentum is a key aspect of skiing, and it’s captured using a brilliantly straightforward control scheme in Grand Mountain Adventure.
You can test out how the game feels with little investment considering Grand Mountain Adventure is a free-to-play game, and a surprisingly generous one at that. Without paying a cent, having to watch any ads, or deal with any sort of timers, you can play to your heart’s content on the game’s first mountain. You only have to pony up $ 4.99 if you want the ability to unlock other mountains to ride on. The mountains you gain access to behind the paywall have more varied geography and challenges than the first one, but that should only matter to you if you like how the game feels on the starting peak anyway.
The bottom line
Grand Mountain Adventure is a game that just wants to let you enjoy the sensation of skiing, and it’s very good at that. It does this partially by tuning its physics and controls carefully, but also by removing anything that might get in your way of enjoying it, even the price tag. If you opt to shell out some money for the game, Grand Mountain Adventure gets way more interesting, but even in its free state, it’s a pretty great skiing game.