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19:2518/07/2014Posted by Charles Etheridge-Nunn2 Comments

Mountain is a “game” with air-quotes in full force. It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know if it’s one that actually works. As the self-proclaimed “art wanker” and “filthy casual” of the D+Pad Magazine stable this is a game which should appeal to me an elements really do try to, but it doesn’t quite get it right.

Mountain is a procedurally-generated game which asks a couple of questions which require drawn responses which as far as I’m aware appear to do nothing, then creates a mountain for you. In the settings menu there are options for whether or not you will have audio turned on and it proudly states, “none” under the controls. Actually, that’s not entirely true. You can move the mountain around by swiping, pinching and zooming. The bottom section of the screen is divided into invisible buttons which play sounds. That’s about it.

The mountain sits there and time passes. That is literally the idea. My mountain had trees on one side and a couple of rocks. Time passes and you might get some snow, some rain, maybe even night time which shows stars and little fireflies in the trees. More time passes. Occasionally the game will save, a process which makes the animations of the elements stutter and slow down a little. You might also get a message at the top of the screen, possibly something from the mountain, which I think you are also supposed to be. The statements all go along the lines of, “This night is really dark” and “My origin is mysterious”.

Sometimes something happens, by something I mean there might be an object which gets flung into the side of the mountain. I didn’t notice when the boat surfaced but it’s stayed washed up against the mountain for a while now. The mountain talked about being loved and a heart shot into the side of it like a meteor. After a while of nothing happening I have to admit I yelled out when it crashed into the side of my mountain. It looked like it might have heralded something more like a disaster or something which could shape the mountain. It didn’t though, it was a heart half-buried in the dirt. I saw the arrival of a traffic cone but missed a CD and an anvil. The latter has been the only real object to get affected by the elements, looking like a big flat ledge covered in snow during winter.

The night cycle occasionally floods the mountain in total darkness, but as night mostly still keeps the mountain lit up it’s difficult to see whether the iPad’s going dark as it’s about to shut off or whether it’s night time.

The lack of agency in Mountain is an intentional aspect of the game, apparently designed to be a second screen for someone to passively have on while watching something or playing another game. It’s a background distraction with allegedly over 50 hours of unique events in the life cycle of the mountain. I would be interested in seeing what other peoples’ experiences with their mountains are but assuming we’re all going to eventually get the same scripted events, I can’t help but feel the emergent narrative will be pretty much the same; the mountain is generated, makes several enigmatic-but-trite statements and objects get thrown at the mountain while time passes. The legwork for interpretation is intentionally heavily on the player but when you have a mountain and some junk which sits there for fifty hours, it fairly lazy compared to so many other emergent experiences.

At the start of this review I said that Mountain looks like the kind of thing I should be all over, being a fan of strange art styles, non-standard methods of experiencing gameplay and the development of emergent narratives. It feels like it is trying to play in this wheelhouse but it fails to be more than a slightly pretentious screensaver. It would be wrong to label this a total failure as it feels like a testing of the waters of this kind of passively-interactive experience. I hope the creator, David O’Reilly, continues to experiment with the format as I’m sure this concept can work, just not like this.

Reviewed on iPad; game was purchased by the reviewer.

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  • all over 50 said:

    I am actually grateful to the owner of this site who has shared this enormous piece of writing at

  • Felipe said:

    as long as you are happy then Im happy for you.By the way just wanna to say I really like your story.Its very tocheud and soft…………very “YOU” haha! >.< I could imagine those beautiful mountains are right infront of my mind ^.^ Anyway take a good care of youself!Love Little Apple(if you still remember me)@.@

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