App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Replay Value Rating:
It’s rare for a game to come out on the App Store that doesn’t have any associated cost with it, but it still happens. Lone Road just happens to be one such game. This mysterious first-person adventure game isn’t particularly long, but it’s got a great style and an intriguing story, making it worth picking up if you have an iPad to play it on.
Lone Road is an adventure/puzzle game where you wander between locations along a roadway in a very desolate and remote area. As you come across certain scenes on your journey, you can examine objects that will allow you to start piecing together a narrative. At the start, it's not clear what's going on, but early in the game you learn that you are some kind of investigator, and you’re looking for a woman who seems to have disappeared.
I hesitate to say any more about the story because Lone Road is very narratively focused and not particularly long. To interrupt the bits of story information that the game doles out, Lone Road has some light puzzles where you have to gather objects, unlock doors, and solve riddles, among other things. This is all done simply by tapping on the screen to move forward or examine objects, and swiping on the screen to make your character turn to look in a different direction.
I wouldn’t say that the mechanics, story, or puzzle design of Lone Road are all that original, but the thing that kept me invested in the game was its fantastic style and mood. The entire game only uses three colors: black, white, and red, and sticks to hard, geometric patterns and shapes to bring its game world to life.
This look, paired with the echo-y guitar soundtrack and mysterious lore laid out by the story and environment make Lone Road one of those games that you’re ok getting lost in. The only potential problem with this is that—in being pretty short—Lone Road doesn’t really give you enough space and time to fully immerse yourself in its world. By the game’s end, you’ll definitely walk away with more questions than answers, which might feel unsatisfying to some players.
When I say Lone Road is a free game, I mean that in every sense of the word. There are no additional purchases, no ads, no gating mechanics, nothing. It’s just free, which is cool, but that’s just one of many odd design choices for Lone Road, and some of the other ones aren’t quite as great.
Top of the list here is the fact that Lone Road is an iPad-only game, which doesn’t seem necessary. The game is played completely in portrait mode and doesn’t seem to take advantage of anything in particular that would keep you from playing it on a phone. Secondly, the game doesn’t seem to checkpoint your progress well, or at all. My first attempts at playing Lone Road were done in chunks, but I found that whenever I booted the game back up, I started at the beginning of the game again. Luckily, its easy to repeat the early sections of Lone Road to restore your progress, and the whole thing is short enough that you can beat it in a sitting, but being seemingly unable to save is definitely not great.
The bottom line
Lone Road’s appeal is mostly in its atmosphere and style, both of which are worth experiencing considering the game is free. There may be some strange or underwhelming aspects to Lone Road, but the whole thing is short enough that you can enjoy what it’s going for without having to put up with any particular issue for too long.