Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Gaming Deck: Mountain for PC

Mountain is not your typical game and for many it has become a sore spot in the conversation over what constitutes a game. The problem arises around the limited options a player has in interacting with the game. As a player you don't have direct control over the Mountain and your ability to impact what happens in the game is minimal at the best of times and nonexistent the rest.  You can spin the Mountain with your mouse in any direction you choose, but when the momentum of your swing ends the Mountain will always return to a clockwise rotation. Zooming in and out on the Mountain with the roller on the mouse will show you either the wider cosmos or bring you closer to the lonely Mountain - but not too close. And then there are the keys asdfghjkl;'zxcvbn,. which produce musical notes to pass the time when it's foggy or raining. With such a limited range of interactions available to the player Mountain has been called a glorified screen saver by those who do not acknowledge that it is a game. Yet in doing so they miss the point of Mountain.

The Mountain floating endlessly throughout space has moments where these lines of inner thought cross the screen. They're often simple exchanges such as, "I wonder if no one visits because my trees aren't pretty," "Sometimes I feel kind of ugly. I should stop thinking about that kind of stuff," or "I don't know where the wind starts, it just keeps going." These innocuous phrases slowly build on one and another creating a contemplative entity that is deeply troubled by the way that its life is, and the lack of real understanding of what's going on beyond its limited understanding. The longer you play the more cosmic trash that begins to land on your Mountain and occasionally the Mountain will react to the impacts helplessly asking you, "What was that?" 

As a player you can't answer the Mountain when some new impact strikes it nor can you comfort it when it asks for some other voice to let it know everything is going to be okay. Instead you find yourself having to grapple with the very questions that the Mountain asks and soon you find yourself looking out the window contemplating the world looking back at you. And that's the point of the game: to get you to stop filling your world with meaningless distractions and to actually contemplate what's really going on in your life. It's an existential game that hits just the right spot for me as even the moments where it causes me to look closer at the discomforts of life are well worth the dollar price tag. You can pick up Mountain on Steam for $0.99.

Graphics: 5
Gameplay: 2
Enjoyment: 9

Overall Score: 5.4  out of 10

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