I had been seeing headlines about Mountain for a couple weeks…it’s beautiful, it’s great, it’s more than a game…frankly, the usual stuff. But being what appeared like an abstract game rather than your normal run-n-gun type affair, I was interested.
Yup, it’s a mountain.
The reviews in the App Store were pretty split. Some loved Mountain for its “zen” approach to gaming, while others were wondering where “the game” really is. For a dollar, I was happy to try it out and make my own opinion.
Mountain is by far the most interesting snow globe available.
If you’re looking for more than an interesting “think piece” then Mountain will not scratch your itch. I don’t mind a good non-action game that has something to say or asks the player to think and be creative, but Mountain doesn’t ask much either way.
Not surprisingly, in Mountain you are given ownership of a mountain floating in space, but only after you draw a few doodles, which presumably determine how your mountain is created. Once that happened I poked around to see what there was to do, and in short, not much.
You can zoom and rotate, fine. And there are hidden piano keys at the bottom of the screen, two octaves, to be precise. It was fun at first, tapping on the keys to make some introspective music while I watched my mountain spin around but that novelty quickly wore off. After some more pinching and proding, I gave up. At that point, whether or not there was more to Mountain didn’t matter, it had failed to hold my attention.
My side of the mountain
I returned to my mountain the next day to give it another spin. Initial play time had proven nothing but I like to give games a second chance with new eyes and adjusted expectations. And…well…my mountain was still spinning around. I think there were a few new trees but otherwise little had happened.
I let my mountain go about its business for a few minutes while I played another game on my phone (that there should tell you a lot) and then I saw something new on my Mountain screen. It was a padlock, you know, Masterlock-style. It was out in space and heading for my mountain. I couldn’t interact with it or do anything about it so it crashed into my mountain, getting buried half way. Okay. So I now have a padlock in my mountain.
I can appreciate the oddity of a padlock pummeling through space and hitting my mountain but what did it do for me? I didn’t seem to affect my mountain and more so, didn’t affect how I interacted with my mountain. Then, while I was trying to analyze what had happened, another object appeared in space, this time an orange traffic cone. And, like the padlock, crashed into my mountain, this time higher up towards the peak. And like before, my mountain kept spinning, seemingly unaffected by the colossal traffic cone. Then it snowed.
Too deep for its own good?
I’ve gone back to my mountain a few times since then and no other objects have crash landed and no new interactions have presented themselves. At this point I’m about done. Mountain looks great and you get the anti-game nature of the game pretty quickly but therein lies the problem for me. If the point of Mountain is to suggest that you should stop for a moment, reflect and just do “nothing” then it’s a commentary on the sad state of us as humans. If I want to sit and do nothing, I’ll sit and do nothing. I don’t need an elaborate mountain disguised as a game making me so bored that I go and do something else.
Of course, if the purpose of Mountain is the spark discussion about that commentary, then the app is a great success…but that doesn’t make it a great game…or even a game at all. God games in general are less “gamey” than others because gameplay is typically slower and more methodical. But Mountain isn’t even a god game because you can’t impact anything (although, maybe that’s the definition of a god?)…regardless, it doesn’t make for an entertaining experience.
The only motivation I have to boot up Mountain is to see if something else will crash into my mountain, but if that does’t happen within the first 2 minutes then I’m not going to keep watching and waiting. And from what I can tell, Mountain doesn’t run in the background so it’s not like I can come back and see stuff that happened overnight.
Yeah, Mountain is only a dollar and that’s a low-risk investment either way but with all the steam behind Mountain, I was really expecting and hoping for more. I don’t need guns, cars or candy to be entertained by a game but I need…something.