(Wii)

Game Review

Cursed Mountain Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Have your prayers been answered?

Cursed Mountain, like its ghostly enemies, came out of nowhere to surprise us: a bona fide adult game, where the phrase doesn't equate to gratuitous swearing, gore and nudity, designed exclusively for Wii. With a story heavy on Buddhist philosophies, a combat system that requires prayer gestures and plenty of other oddities, it's certainly unlike anything on this or any other console, but is there a good reason for that?

You play Eric Simmons, a world-famous mountaineer, whose younger brother Frank has been reported lost whilst attempting to climb the foreboding Chomolonzo mountain. Naturally, it's up to you to figure out what happened and bring him home, but as you'd expect there's plenty of danger along the way, not least from the departed spirits of the village and mountain. For reasons you discover in the game, the village at the base of Chomolonzo is deserted, with the exception of ghosts who wander the streets. Many of these spirits are in fact quite placid, and will only attack you if you get too close or jog near them with (Z), although some are out for your blood from the start and will transform into vicious fanged killers as soon as they see you. Sometimes they'll even lurk in shadows, clouded in a murky smoke, and that's where the Third Eye comes in.

Essentially "Ghost Vision", the Third Eye lets you see things that are hidden in the regular world, with special symbols, spiritual seals and more glowing vividly with your Third Eye. Switching between the two is a simple matter of holding (C) with the Third Eye vision being accompanied by the rather sinister sound of Eric's breathing and dark spots in your field of vision. It's a nice effect that serves to increase the tension significantly, especially as you tend to use it more whilst the threat of attack is high.

The rest of the game's production values are of a similarly high standard. The voice acting is deliberately understated for the most part, and the sparse soundtrack comes in with perfect timing and tone, with muffled breathing, muted groans and plenty of other atmospheric sounds making up the rest of the impressive aural experience. Play this through a decent stereo system and it'll enhance your enjoyment of the game no end.

Although the palette is mostly greys, browns and whites, that's not to say that the graphics let the package down: there's a pleasing amount of detail in the environments, and despite having little control over the camera that occasionally reverts to old-school Resident Evil style fixed-angles, the rare occasions where you're unable to see behind you generally contribute to even bigger scares. Animation-wise, the game doesn't disappoint, with Eric moving smoothly and even visibly altering his step to cope with steep or uneven ground. The enemies themselves don't have a huge range of movements but still move with menace - noticeably quicker than Resident Evil's zombies, with the advantage of being able to teleport behind you at a moment's notice, and even the larger enemies impress with their speed and agility. Outside of the gameplay, the cutscenes, menus and loading screens all share the same rich texture, conjuring up images of a traveller's journal, rather than a disc-based game. It would be a stretch to say Cursed Mountain is one of the best-looking games on Wii, but it certainly acquits itself admirably and with no shortage of style and polish. And yes, you can look around the mountain to see where you've come from or where you're going, and even make out the flags flapping in the wind far in the distance.

Not everything that was built up in the pre-release PR is implemented quite so well, though. Although the gesture-based controls received a lot of hype, promising to use prayer movements to combat enemies, the reality of fighting is a lot more traditional. Pressing (B) swings your axe around, whilst (after a power-up) you can hold (C) to aim and then press (B) to unleash a blast of fire at your enemies. The gestures come into play once you've dished enough damage - a red icon appears in the ghost, and once you've activated it with (A) a series of gestures will appear on screen. At first you only need to use a diagonal Wii Remote swipe, but later on you need to perform longer sequences to finish the harder enemies off. The gestures essentially play the role of finishing moves, and although they're not at all necessary they do recover your health, and certainly add another layer of involvement to the proceedings.

The other controls are pretty much as you'd expect, although the presence of Resident Evil-style "tank controls" is disappointing. Pushing down on the (STICK) sees you backpedal awkwardly, with left and right turning you in that direction, resulting in some irritating moments stuck in corners until you acclimatise. Holding down on the (DPAD) puts you in first-person mode, but you use the (STICK) rather than the Wii Remote pointer to look around; not a huge problem, but you have to wonder why the decision was made considering the IR pointer is used to aim when using the Third Eye.

There's no shortage of gameplay to get you comfortable with the controls, though. With eleven chapters each lasting anywhere between thirty minutes and a few hours, you'll have plenty of time to explore Chomolonzo and its strange goings-on. There's not much in the way of secrets, but you can find plenty of optional journal entries and writings to flesh out the story and explain some of the less well-known Buddhist principles. With the game well-paced, seemingly always giving you new gestures and abilities at the right time, completing it should be much less of a draining slog than ascending Chomolonzo.

Conclusion

Cursed Mountain is a game of considerable quality, with no shortage of commendable assets - an intelligent story, well-crafted immersion into a foreign world and a high standard of audio and visual presentation mark it out as a game well worth a buy. It's let down by some occasionally poor controls, and once you've made it to the end you're unlikely to want to play it over again, but otherwise it's refreshingly low on faults. Cursed Mountain is a highly worthwhile journey that Deep Silver and Koch Media deserve high praise for bringing to Wii owners seeking a more substantial scary experience.

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Game Trailer

DEEP SILVER bring Wii owners a new survival horror game, will you be able to scale the 'Cursed Mountain', check back on Nintendo Life for a more information and a full review.

User Comments (36)

NeoRausch

#3

NeoRausch said:

i'm low on money right now...otherwise it would be mine. i get some Eternal Darkness-Vibe from this one.

MattL

#4

MattL said:

Agreed, I loved every minute of this game. Play it with the headphones on and in complete darkness. It'll scare the pants off you.

One of my favourite games this year so far :)

Nanaki

#5

Nanaki said:

I'd play this... if I wasn't the site's resident wuss! :(

Great review, Jim!

Egg_miester

#6

Egg_miester said:

the game is great is a lot of fun the rebirth of survival horror and anyone a horror fan needs to get the game

Strofan7

#8

Strofan7 said:

okay question, is this game a better buy than resident evil? or possibly better than dead space extraction? i'm really interested to try a horror game but really don't know what to go for...

Sean_Aaron

#9

Sean_Aaron said:

@Strofan7: I think the story is certainly more interesting than Resident Evil; it's also not a bullet fest like Dead Space Extraction. It has something of an adventure game vibe and is heavily story-driven rather than action oriented like the newer Resident Evil games (and what passes for horror titles on the PS3/Xbox 360).

Oh, and great work Mr. Newton!

Sephariel

#11

Sephariel said:

this game is a must buy, the atmosphere is incredible (when you play at night that is)

LEGEND_MARIOID

#12

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Interesting take on the whole horror, psychological thriller thing. Different.

Not for me, but good addition to the Wii retail library.

I think it got an 82% from ONM too.

Dazran303

#14

Dazran303 said:

I ordered this of the net and it arrived today, can't wait to give it a good lash tonight :D

  • First post :D
Nero

#15

Nero said:

Good review. I finished it this weekend and just so you know it took me about 9 and a half hours (I broke every vase and pretty much searched every spot that you could) and I enjoyed it very much. Good story which kept me going forward to see where it leads. Yeah it's a bit weird how "hard" it was go walk exactly backwards without turning a bit, and the only motion problem I had was maybe 2-3 times the forward nunchuck motion didn't register. I've heard people complaining that boss fights are difficult because you are vulnerable while you heal and while the first boss killed me a few times I didn't really need to heal during any other boss fight since by then I had gotten better in playing the game.
Always fun to switch from the "proton pack" weapon which didn't give you any health from killing enemies and with the strong but slow Kila to get some easy health when you needed it. The last two levels might be a bit slow for some people but I enjoyed them very much. It's for games like these that I own a Wii, for unique games that probably wouldn't show up on the HD consoles.

WolfRamHeart

#18

WolfRamHeart said:

Excellent review Prosody! I have been keeping my eye on this game for quite some time and I was wondering how it would turn out. Nice to see that it turned out to be a pretty good game. I will definitely be picking this one up along with Dead Space: Extraction.:)

Jiakasuma

#19

Jiakasuma said:

Solid review! The only problem I had with the game was when it came to fighting, really annoying...

Chatham

#20

Chatham said:

I can't believe this review. I played this game when it leaked and it was terrible.

WTF is with the horrible "cut-scene" still image crap?! Seriously?! This isn't the PSP, there's no excuse.

Sean_Aaron

#21

Sean_Aaron said:

I think the cut scenes are an artistic choice; as such they won't please everyone. Judging a game upon the basis of playing a pre-release copy will often give a different impression to playing a final build!

MayhemStaff

#22

Mayhem said:

Does seem to be at odds with other reviews I've read... might need a play first before thinking on a buy.

Ristar42

#23

Ristar42 said:

Its a slow game. To be honest, at first I though it was rubbish, but the atmosphere really improves as you play. I'm enjoying the game, its pretty creepy with an original story and well realised environment, certainly worth a try, the voice acting is quite good too.

Tate24

#24

Tate24 said:

i bought this 2 days ago and i am really enjoying it. Its supernatural adventure with interesting story.

I really love lot different things about the game. First being graphics which i think look really good seening very old building towering over you the sense that you are alone in a isolated or deserted village can give u them werid monents were u look back just incase someone or something is following you. Also sound which makes u feel nervous as u hear muttering or something moving in other room giving you sense that there's something there.

Also how eric moves if hes walking up a steep cliff he struggles taking it slow or if eric is walking down a steep area he take little steps as he jog's down. Its nothing new but bring's a little realistic movement that you would do in real life. Nice little touch.

One thing i do enjoy is the fighting as you get new religious symbol to attach to your pick axe these give you different ways to kill the demons & ghosts. you got couple of choices - hack them to death with pick axe. Shoot them to within an inch of there life. Or use compassion gestures and help them cross over to afterlife. it looks good after you use compassion gesture as ghost crosses over in red shockwave that burst 0ver the screen!! The controls work well but only one gesture i had real problem with and that was thrusting of nunchuk. which sometimes didn't response!! swinging wii-mote or nunchuk side to side no problem!! but thrusting ones were somewhat unresponsive. i found out that it works better if you hold wii-mote up-right so that pointer facing up wards works far better. I think Deep Silver have done good job with cursed mountain. Because i was getting sick playing standard zombie games and wanted to see a new type of threat!! or just different take of horror genre. thanks to Deep Silver i now have:)

ps. nice review

Mukkinese

#25

Mukkinese said:

I recently got this and now think it is a good game overall, despite my serious problems with the gesture mechanics early on. Lots of people, including me, have had trouble with the gestures for the compassion ritual, which is a shame, because when they work, they make a novel and satisfying way of finishing off the bad guys.

These tips will get the gestures to work nine times out of ten. First don't rush things, all the ghosts and demons will freeze when you go in to ritual mode, so you have a little time to do it properly;

1/ Get your hand into position to start the gesture and;

2/ hold that position for a second, say "one Mississippi" (that well-known ancient Buddhist mantra) to yourself, then;

3/ make the gesture in a big, smooth movement.

Do this for each gesture, it is mostly a matter of timing and clear movement.

Once you get this procedure down, the compassion ritual works almost every time. Learning this simple procedure transformed the game from a frustrating disappointment to fun and interesting for me.

Deep Silver dropped the ball here, the instructions for the compassion ritual should have been much better.

winter123

#26

winter123 said:

"acclimatise" Isn't it 'acclimate'? Anyway, this looks interesting, ill get it eventually.

Deviant_Mugen

#29

Deviant_Mugen said:

I remember reading about this game a while back and I saw it at Gamestop two days ago; it looks interesting. I might just pick this up once I can procure some funds...

edofthe209

#30

edofthe209 said:

Just picked this up new at Gamestop for only $19.99. Sad to see it price drop so fast, but if $49.99 was too much months back, this is now unexcusably cheap.

edofthe209

#33

edofthe209 said:

Finally got around to playing it tonight after the superbowl (Go Saints) and it is a blast! Really slow start, but I dig the atmosphere and the fairly unique combat. I have to say that I found the story sections that used the still pictures and odd filters to be quite creepy, more so than something that used a regular cinema, actually.

Splat

#34

Splat said:

I just started playing this game and it's so dark that I had to give up, which is lame I want to give it a chance but I can't see what is going on. :(

brainofj

#35

brainofj said:

I LOATHED this game. Vague clues, no discernible map, it suffers from the "you can't do a simple action until we tell you how" syndrome (running, for instance, isn't available until the game says "press B to run"), and it has huge holes in logic: the main character is a mountain climber, but he can't jump over a two foot wall in the first city?!? Couple all this with bland, monotone graphics, and you have one of the worst games on the Wii.

Wolfenstein83

#36

Wolfenstein83 said:

I just got this game for less than ten bucks, and it's a steal at that price.
Not to mention it was the limited edition which has a metal case (wish all Wii games were like this) and comes with a soundtrack and a making-of video on a two-sided disc.
I think it's a pretty good game, it's different.
I agree that there were some dark spots but the combat kept me on my toes and the atmosphere was really foreboding.
I think it's cool, and if you can get it for as cheap as I did then you are all set.
Give it a chance, you may be surprised.

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