Jul 6, 2014

Mountain Review: Beautiful. Magnificent. Alone.

in category Games

The debut game of artist David OReilly’s Mountain is a first-of-its-kind mountain simulator, putting you in control of a mountain.

At the start of the game, you draw to answer some questions that the game throws at you. There after, a procedurally-generated mountain based on your answer greets you at the end of it

You can either zoom out to see the mountain in all of its glory in the middle of the universe or zoom in to see the details of the mountain. You can even play a short melody while observing the mountain. You continue to watch as the weather try to lay waste to the trees and shrubs littered across the surface of the mountain or wait for random objects to burst into the atmosphere and hurtle towards the mountain.

And that’s it.

Snowy-Mountain

Beautifully presented, Mountain is contemplative and zen-like. A harmonious hum would signal the start of a new day, crickets would fill up the soundscape of the night and fireflies would fly amongst the forests. You can rotate the mountain around, admire the glorious magnificence of its existence in the middle of space and just stare at it as it turns slowly on its own axis.

Every now and then, you would hear a chime, revealing what the mountain is thinking. Sometimes it is deeply connected with the deep night, or it is feeling calm on this dreary morning. At first, the variation of the messages felt like they were genuine profound insights into the Mountain’s existence. However, as the game went on, the messages became repetitive, basically saying “I am feeling <something> on this <adjective> <time of the day>”.

night-mountain

Initially, it felt like I was caring for a silent contemplative Tamagotchi, a digital pet where I checked in every now and then to see its progress. Random objects would have lodged themselves into the sides of the mountain, some of them as bewildering as the mountain itself. I saw a horse, a pie, a bench and a traffic cone and I sat there trying to interpret what the mountain was trying to tell me.

Then after, I sat there, wondering whether I was missing something. I would rotate the mountain, zoomed in and out and even tried to play a music piece to it. I would raged at it, tried to reason with it. But the mountain just sat there, oblivious to my attempts, an immense rock in the middle of the universe.

Lonelyinspace-mountain

At the heart of it, Mountain is a game where you are asked to interpret all that has happened. Why is there a brain lodged at the side of the mountain? What about the molar that is almost fully consumed on the sides? How about that rock that is just floating in space away from the mountain? Depending on how you view it, Mountain can be incredibly thought-provoking as you seek to give meaning to it.

Or it can be a waste of your time.

As I continue to watch the mountain, it felt more like I was watching an art piece evolve rather than a game. Maybe there is a message about the current state of human behaviour, where we constantly want quick satisfaction and that you should enjoy peace and harmony every once in a while. Or maybe there isn’t. Either way, Mountain is an enigma which you either get or don’t.

Frankly speaking, I just want to see how it all ends and call it a day.

Verdict
Beautiful and magnificent, Mountain is an enigma that would challenge what you think a game should be. Either you will assign a profound meaning to it, or you would think that it is a waste of time. Your call.