The iPhone -- even going back to it's original iteration -- has always been capable of visually impressive mobile games, and some of the latest titles for the iPhone 5 can rival console-quality visuals. But as any gamer will tell you, great graphics don't make a great game, and A Ride Into The Mountains is undeniable proof that a lot can be done with a comparatively small number of pixels.
The very first thing you'll notice about the game is that it looks like a cross between an early Nintendo title and something from the Atari days. There are no jaw-dropping graphics and not a single polygon to be found, but the washed-out look of the ultra-basic visuals fits the zen-minded nature of the game perfectly.
You play as Zu, a man living a solitary existence guarding a mysterious relic tucked away in the mountains. When a strange object falls out of the sky and dulls the relic's glow, you grab your bow, jump on your trusty horse and set off to investigate. The vague story doesn't do a lot to fill in the details along the way, but the game is so charming that you probably won't really mind.
Soon after departing towards the mountains, you encounter dark objects and creatures bent on destroying you. Using a finger on the touchscreen to draw Zu's bow, you take out enemies one by one to progress. After clearing each set of enemies, you move on to the next, with environmental hazards like wind occasionally showing up to throw a wrench in your attack plan.
A Ride Into The Mountains does a fantastic job of pacing your adventure, and despite the fact that your goal in most instances is to destroy your enemies, the entire experience is actually very relaxing. Many of the larger battles against boss creatures end up feeling very much like a puzzle, where a cool head is more important than a fast trigger finger.
With its throwback art style, easy to learn gameplay and chilled-out mood, A Ride Into The Mountains is a great US$0.99 title that will leave you thinking about it for hours, or perhaps days after each play session.