Is Mountain a form of modernism or a screensaver? On one hand, Mountain offers a serene landscape and a breathtaking view of a mountain. On the other hand, it ages and becomes its own identity. Mountain lets you look at all sides and the more you look, the more it grows. What sets this mountain apart from other games? A game that offers no control of the outcome, but draws you in.
Mountain was created by David O’Reilly and is a relaxing simulator where its art is defined as not just art, but art horror. Why is it considered art horror? The art is understandable but why horror? We will go into that a little later. If you are a fan of the movie Her, then you might have seen David O’Reilly’s work. The game’s the main protagonist plays are a collection of his works. Unfortunately, those games you cannot play. So instead, David O’Reilly gives us Mountain, a small taste of what he has stored up in his head.
When we think about games we think of a range of things: full controller support, saving, music and sound effects, progression, character design, story, begin and end, protagonist and antagonist, etc.. While this game has some of those elements, it boasts a whole new mindset to instill into the player.
Upon entering the game you are greeted with a very lush and green hill top. Sound effects in the background of blowing wind or chirping birds may come up and clouds blowing past. You spin this hunk of land and you see nothing but a normal looking mountain . You look underneath this massive landmark and you see gravel and foundation. This mountain is floating in space and is surrounded by an aura to keep in the atmosphere.
Overtime, it may rain or snow, but you soon realize that is just a common thing that happens naturally. This is everything you see in the first minutes of game play.
Once you realize that you can’t do anything but look at this monument, you leave it on in the background thinking you might have just bought a screensaver.
Suddenly, a thought pops up in the upper left-hand corner. Some omnipresent being is having a thought while observing.
As the time passes and music cues in, you start to realize things that were not there before. Your mountain starts growing new things and evolving into its own identity.
This is one of the game’s unique features. Once you start the game, you cannot start it over. Each mountain is unique to the gamer. As it slowly spins, more things show up on it. The longer you have the program running the older the mountain becomes.
My mountain is in its infancy, so there is a giant toy block to represent its age. At night, little pixies dance in the trees. It has an adorable look to it. If the day is clear, then the omnipresent voice might type how it wishes to share this with somebody. When the day is rainy and dreary, the voice might express matching emotions, which gives you mixed feelings of who this lonely person is.
After every new dawn, you are greeted to a chime and the game saves for you making sure you did not lose any progress as you leave the game open. Thus, the cycle continues.
What makes this game different from other simulation type games. I think it has something to do with an underlining story and you are the audience watching it unfold. Instead of naturally progressing the game yourself, you are reading this story as it is happening, almost like raising a child.
I think that is where the horror comes in. For new parents, it is a crazy ride and you don’t know what to expect. The danger and fear around every corner and not knowing what will happen next. You may have limited control, but you just have to take it day by day. The messages you get are an inner monologue and interpretation of what a child may be thinking as it sees the world through its eyes. The mountain grows as it ages, like a child would and if you stop watching for a moment something amazing might happen. Art is supposed to be interpreted several hundred ways and this is what I see.