The cursed mountain gave me a shock when I sat down to play it for the first time. Granted, it’s technically a survival horror game, but my surprising reaction wasn’t caused by the sudden appearance of an evil monster. No, what attracted me was the main character. He opened his mouth to speak… and he had a Scottish accent ! This is unbelievable. You may think I’m overreacting, but how many Scottish video game heroes can you think of? At this point in my career, I’m almost at the point where I expect every new version to be populated by raucous space marines Yankees.
But a Scottish hero is not the only original note of the cursed mountain. The whole concept looks clearly unusual, even beyond the fact that this is a survival horror game on the family Wii. It is the story of Eric Simmons, a talented young climber who is looking for his burned brother Frank. Simmons the boy disappeared when he was looking for a legendary artifact on Mount Chomolonzo, and now it’s up to you to find him. Unfortunately, this quest will pit you against some pretty sinister forces.
In a clear break with the tariff of the normal genus, the Cursed Mountain is inspired by Tibetan Buddhist mythology. Your main enemies are tormented souls trapped in Bardot, a purgatory-like kingdom that exists between life and pass away. Due to a curse that fell on the mountain, all those who die on Chomolonzo are trapped in this state, and they have become quite peril as a result. To escape from these enemies, you need to help them get to the afterlife… tear them with an ax.
Ok, in fact there is a little more than that. To defeat your enemies, you must first weaken them with a combination of close and long-range strikes. Your climber’s ax, of course, is a very useful melee tool, but if you bring artifacts to it, you will also use it as a kind of enchanted weapon. If you hold down the C key, Eric will use his third eye to see the spirit world. At this point, you can strike projectiles at your enemies. Weaken them sufficiently, and you will be vulnerable to one last move, in which you will free your mind with a series of prayer gestures, which are quickly performed by a chain of sweeps with the remote control and the nunchuck.
Although this setup is more or less correlated with the QTE finishing moves we’ve seen in so many games recently, there’s no denying that Cursed Mountain derives a lot from its unusual inspiration. Even such a simple action as restoring health is carried out by burning incense sticks. And the representative of Deep Silver was full of stories about the celebration and images that the developer used as inspiration. He especially wanted to talk about burials in the sky – a burial practice in which a corpse is cut into pieces, the pieces are mixed with flowers, and then the resulting gruel is given to the vultures. This sounds pretty macabre, although I do not know if it will make an appearance in the game.
At the moment we are a little worried about the action
Apart from the celebration, it is quite possible that the real star of the Cursed Mountain is Chomolonzo himself. Eric begins his adventure in the city of Lhando and slowly makes his way through the enemy terrain. During his journey, you can see the places that you have already visited, as well as those that you have not yet reached, which gives the game a sense of progression. Deep Silver promises a mix of environments, from desolate cliffs to spooky monasteries, with most locations based on real-life locations. Towards the end of the game, as you approach the top of the mountain, you will also have to face the fact that the air becomes too thin to breathe – forcing Eric to rely on an oxygen tank for his survival. Since the plot unfolds in the 1980s, equipping our hero is a bit simple. After the muscular action of Resident Evil 5, there is something nice in this low-tech approach.
In fact, there is a lot to love from the general direction that the Cursed Mountain takes. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it sounds scary and atmospheric and not downright scary, but there’s something really fresh in the game’s commitment to moving away from the bloody ways of the genre. While I’ve had relatively little hands-on time with the game so far, my initial reaction is that the action is at its best during its quieter and more terrifying moments. I’m less convinced by what I sampled from the action, as the camera and the character’s slow movements seemed to be conspiring against me. Melee action were not so much a problem, but ranged action seemed quite clumsy, because I had difficulty running through space, spinning to meet my target, and then triggering a fireball or two.
I’m sure that this method of strike will become easier over time, but I still hope that the last game will not be too full of action. There is potential for something quite interesting in Cursed Mountain, and it would be a pity if the subtleties of the atmosphere were ruined by an over-reliance on hack-N-slashing. As I said, we’ve only seen a small part of the game so far, so we’ll keep you posted as more details emerge.