We've previously spoken with Cursed Mountain developer Deep Silver on the title, and even got some time with it at E3. But the spectacle of lights and blaring noises doesn't make for a very condusive to playing a horror title in. So, with the lights dimmed a bit more and most of the thumping bass beats gone, Deep Silver invited me to check out their title at a New York City hotel.
Set in the 1980s, this survival horror title has you facing the elements, the undead, and the less-than-friendly recluses of the Himalayas. It's a time without GPS devices and cellphones, yet is familiar enough to most people that they can relate with the character.
How does the title hold up against the legions of other survival horror titles that are out there? Especially considering that not many have really bothered to try the genre out on the Wii? Well, you can find out your answers to this and so much more after the jump.
Cursed Mountain (Wii)
As soon as we sat down to play Cursed Mountain, the game's atmosphere came across loud and clear. This title, about a man trying to find out what happened to his brother when he tried to climb to the top of Mt. Chomolonzo in the Himalayas, gives you the feeling that something is amiss. As we investigated the deserted town at the base of the mountain, the only thing I could think of was that this reminded me a lot of Silent Hill 2 -- I was constantly wondering if something was going to come up from behind and attack. While I wasn't in a state of constant terror, my foot was tapping in anticipation.
Cursed Mountain is a different sort of horror game. As you've heard before, and you'll hear again, the whole game is based around a control scheme that opens the player up physically. Just think back to playing most any survival horror title. You're usually clutching the controller with an iron grip, with your shoulders hunched over and your pants slightly soggy. You can admit it -- we won't judge.
The game forces you to waggle your way through fighting the ghouls, ghosts, and already dead of Everest -- the souls of those who failed to climb the mountain, the monks who are there to defend it, and mythical beasts of Tibetian legend. As such, you have to open your body and not get into a defensive position, creating a new sort of experience for the player -- one where you have to decide whether or not to man up and fight the spirits that are in your way.
Combat follows in one of two ways: either you blast apart the spirits with your magically-empowered pickaxe from afar, or you can beat them to death with it in a less magical way. Either way, before you actually kill the spirits, you have the opportunity to perform Buddhist rites on the souls, sending them off to the afterlife and dropping health or other goodies in the process. So, there's no reason not to do so.
What makes the Buddhist rites fun, and what really keeps things from getting stale -- is that each soul has its own set of motions, so you won't be repeatedly doing the same strokes over and over again. It should also make combat much scarier, because each battle is a bit of an unknown. I say should because there was a bit of a sense of disconnect when it came to the combat. It may have just been my position as an observer (the demo was hands-off), but there was never a real sense of terror in the fights. I think it might be because there never seemed to be any ancillary indicators of combat: the controller only vibrated when hit, and the music didn't become heightened upon entering a battle.
The music part was surprising because the soundtrack was so good -- it reminded me very heavily of Siren: New Translation, and combat was the one area it was lacking in. Otherwise, the music fit perfectly with the environment and the type of mood created by the story. What I really enjoyed about the story was how the plot developed -- most clues were found through flashbacks and backstory, leaving the player to piece together the story for themselves. The further you delve into things, the weirder they get, giving the game a great feeling.
By the time I was done with Cursed Mountain, I wanted to just take the debug unit home with me. The game has all the makings for one of the best horror titles on the Wii. The game really feels like an evolution of the horror genre onto the Wii. Many of the tones and elements seem familiar, but there's a clear level of care put into the title to make it for the Wii that comes across and really helps the title. I've got very high hopes for the title, and can't wait for the release that'll be happening at the end of the month.
Also, for all you Collector's Edition lovers, Cursed Mountain's will be giving you a soundtrack, making-of features, and some extra content for the title. So, you might want to buckle down and shell out the money for this tin-encased edition of the game.