The Lengest Journey: Mountains Of Madness

By Adam Smith on December 6th, 2011 at 8:56 am.

Danforth breaks some ribs all the time - he's a man's man, he'll be fine

When I noticed that Big Fish had released a Mountains of Madness game I was immediately apoplectic with rage. I gnashed my teeth and raged at anyone who would listen, clamouring about the disgraceful behaviour of reducing my favourite Lovecraft tale into a series of loosely connected scenes in which the only challenge is to click on a random smattering of household detritus stuck in a snowdrift. Then I tried the demo, which allows an hour of play in what sources inform me is approximately a three hour game. Were sixty minutes enough to change my baseless opinion?

It was cerainly enough time to discover that hidden object shenanigans are at a minimum and even when they do appear most of the items are appropriate to the plot and situation. The puzzles are simple but functional and satisfying, while the story, although a tad reliant on glowing glyphs, is quite effectively told from what I’ve seen.

The full game is £5.39 but if you’ve never registered at Big Fish before, use the code NEW299 and you’ll get a discount to £2.30. The downloader should prompt new customers with that code anyway but now you are twice warned.

As to whether it’s worth any time or money at all, I’d say if you have a hankering for some Lovecraft and don’t mind the simplified take on adventuring, it’s a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I doubt it’s going to put up much of a challenge but that’s not really the point; it’s another way to experience a story you probably know already if you’ve read this far, with a bit of pointing, a bit of clicking and three dead bodies within the first few minutes.

Before I go, here’s something else. Flying around in the Googlecopter I spotted this on the snowy plains below. It’s a short animation of The Mountains of Madness that I’d never seen before. Parts of it are a little ropey but I’m strangely drawn to it. That said, I did skip past a few bits impatiently. Still, that’s two new (to me) Mountains of Madness interpretations I’ve found in one morning, which is much better than my average discovery rate of one per decade.

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52 Comments »

  1. Text_Fish says:

    Arrrggh, gad-flam-it, I got all excited at first and thought there was a new Longest Journey Game with Lovecraft goodliness! X( It’s too early for puns.

  2. sabrage says:

    This better not preclude a REAL Mountains of Madness game from coming out. If there’s any genre that doesn’t need to be dumbed down, it’s point and click adventure games -.-

    • Was Neurotic says:

      How in the name of the nine hells would it preclude a “real” MoM game from coming out? Are you smoking crack?

    • Shuck says:

      @ frightlever: Yeah, for the longest time, Arkham House publishing laid claim to his work, even though copyrights weren’t properly renewed back in the days when that was necessary. Despite the fact, Chaosium licensed from Arkham a trademark on Lovecraft’s work for use in games. So it was a dicey proposition to use Lovecraft’s work, except his early stuff that is unambiguously in the public domain, created as it was in the era before The Mouse. I’m not sure either entity is still making any claims, though, now that the copyright situation has had more public exposure.

  3. Conrad B Hart says:

    That headline is worth a golf clap. Noisome! Squamous!

  4. Moth Bones says:

    Just don’t bother with the 1940s radio adaptation; it is truly appalling.

  5. Drake Sigar says:

    Listen you *grabs Adam by the throat and lifts him several feet off the ground* don’t you ever use a Longest Journey pun, ever! The split-second of false hope isn’t worth the crushing realisation that there is no new Longest Journey game and there never will be.

    Adam? Why have you stopped moving?

  6. Unaco says:

    I’d maybe be interested if…

    a) It wasn’t a pointy clicky adventure, and,

    b) H.P. Lovecraft hadn’t been a raving anti-semite and a flagrant racist, the mere mention of whom turns my stomach a little.

    Maybe that’s just me.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      You can like a writer’s books without liking the writer himself.

    • MD says:

      Yeah, but everyone draws their own line somewhere. I doubt many of us would hang one of Hitler’s paintings on our wall, or buy a collection of Stalin’s love poems. At the other end of the scale, most of us would be able to enjoy the work of a guy who occasionally swears at puppies or something. But in the space between, like I said, we all draw our own lines.

    • Jumwa says:

      Like Teddy Leach said.

      If I only read/played/enjoyed things made by people whom I didn’t find morally repugnant, I’d lead a very, very dull life.

    • Unaco says:

      That would be fine… If his works weren’t littered with his repugnant views. If his work were free of all that, then I’d have no problem with it. But it isn’t. He didn’t keep those things separate.

    • Jumwa says:

      I’ve read as much Lovecraft as I could get my hands on, and I don’t recall anything standing out to me as anti-Semitic or racist.

      I suppose one might argue that often the malformed, evil-y types were from non-white populations. Except they were quite often Anglo-Saxon’s too. Wilbur Whately and his lot were all backwater New Englanders, and so on.

    • Unaco says:

      There’s this for a start…

      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_Creation_of_Niggers

      Shadow over Innsmouth can be interpreted as being against miscegenation.

      The Horror at Red Hook – Lovecraft stated “When you see my new tale “The Horror at Red Hook”, you will see what use I make of the idea in connexion with the gangs of young loafers & herds of evil-looking foreigners that one sees everywhere in New York.” It was essentially a racist polemic, using the Yezidi as Devil worshipping villains.

      R’lyeh can be interpreted as an allegory for New York, populated with Jews, negroes and interracial couples.

      And that’s forgetting the quite flagrant and obvious racism in his letters and his attitudes and his relationships… which are obvious and very easy to find.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      You can like a writer’s books without liking the writer himself.

      That’s something people say, but I don’t think it’s actually true.

      I have no position on Lovecraft to take here, but while I think you can and should appreciate a work for it’s significance or achievement entirely on its own merits and in the proper context, if a writer loses your respect as an individual severely enough that you viscerally dislike them as a person or abhor their actions, you can never really get the warm fuzzies over their work again. “Liking” something requires a certain comfort level and degree of trust, and there’s always going to be that distance there that you’re aware of with someone whose actions you profoundly disapprove of. Everyone has a different threshold for when acknowledgment of someone’s faults becomes active dislike.

      Art doesn’t require you to be comfortable with it to be effective (and sometimes even requires you to be uncomfortable in order to be effective), but appreciating something and liking it enough on a personal level to celebrate it and make it part of your life are two different things.

      Personally, I hold a different yardstick to people who were a product of their time when society itself was overtly and unapologetically racist. I might as well boycott any material produced prior to the last 20 years or so, as so much of it was so awkwardly racist, intentionally or otherwise. I enjoy the work of lots of artists and performers I’m fairly certain were terrible human beings. I dont celebrate it, or give it a pass, but it doesn’t offend me on a visceral level so much as some bigoted writers still doing the same thing today, even if they hide behind religion. Religion or not, you can totally hold someone accountable for their actions, and the actions of the group they choose to associate with and agenda they choose to advance.

      If the Klan were playing in a band on my street, and they were really, really good, I might be able to manage some sort of detached acknowledgement of their skill, but as long as they were choosing to identify as the Klan, I’d never be able to sit down and hum along.

      Perhaps this is a limitation on my part, but I think it’s just human nature.

    • Jumwa says:

      Interpretation or authors intent isn’t everything, it isn’t even much. We all take from an artists works whatever we want.

      Heck, I’m a Dune fan despite it’s repugnant eugenics themes about building super people through selective breeding of noble born lineages from the times of ancient Greece into the farflung space-future.

      I’m somehow able to play video games these days, despite their near universally rampant sexism or outright complete disregard for half the human race. (There’s not a single woman in all the Stalker series! Why Stalker?! WHY?!)

      But I understand if knowing these things and seeing these interpretations prevents you from enjoying them. I’ve never been able to enjoy a single Disney movie. My partner can’t suffer through a single other Unreal Tournament Black match because of the insipid “BEATEN BY A GIRL!” drivel her female character spouts on a constant basis.

      Though personally I’ve always had a much easier time ignoring unsavory roots and themes in things if the creator is dead.

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      All great artists are loons. Some are racist loons. That shouldn’t hinder you in enjoying their works, if it does, you’re doing it wrong.

    • Unaco says:

      @Bobby Oxygen

      I’ve said, I don’t mind reading a racist’s work, as long as they leave the racism at the door. But when the racist incorporates that racism into their work… then I have a problem with it.

    • johnpeat says:

      and for the record, I find Shadow over Innsmouth one of HPLs better bits of work and the idea that “the Innsmouth look” was a direct comparison to white/black relationships is a bit bonkers IMO

      White humans mixing with creatures of the deep who have enormous powers and live forever (admiteddly under the sea) – an odd view for a racist to try to portray surely??

      I think there’s far too much “I’m looking for something to dislike” going on here – racism is a problem when it’s committed now – there’s absolutely zero point in looking for it retrospectively because it’s not going to be hard to find…

      You don’t have to look back as far as HPL’s time to find FAR worse – it might be a problem if people were thumping his books and saying “see how the message is carried brothers” but I doubt anyone in the EDL or BNP has or would ever read HPL (or listen to Wagner) so I think we’re good.

      Orson Scott Card tho – that’s a bit different because – mainly – he’s still alive and spouting shite.

    • Unaco says:

      “I doubt anyone in the EDL or BNP has or would ever read HPL (or listen to Wagner) so I think we’re good.”

      http://www.stephenking.com/forums/showthread.php/20361-H-P-Lovecraft-co-opted-by-white-supremacists

      Nope. Stormfront love him.

    • coty says:

      @ Unaco

      If you read Lovecraft and only see racism, then you have blinders on. The fact that your interpretation is racist does not mean that it is the only, or true, interpretation. That is kind of the point of literature.

    • Unaco says:

      Did I say racism was ALL I SEE when I read Lovecraft? No. Did I say that no one should read it, and that you’re fools for not seeing the racism? No. All I said was that I interpret his work as containing his reprehensible beliefs, and, because of that, I cannot respect those works.

      The fact that Lovecraft was a virulent racist is undeniable. I feel that he carried that racism over to his writing. I could say the same thing as you’ve just said… if you read Lovecraft and don’t see the racism, you have blinders on. But I haven’t said that, and I’m not going to.

    • Sif says:

      Lovecraft’s racism and fear of foreign influences is one reason his work is so fascinating – he’s obviously a man whose terror of The Other was so strong it seeped into everything he wrote. When he uses it to talk about the genuinely alien and nihilistic, it’s riveting. When he turns it on his fellow human beings to imply they’re inferior by nature of the color of their skin, it’s wince-worthy.

      It’s worth noting some of Lovecraft’s best work felt thematically like examinations of colonialism (Whisperer in Darkness, Shadow out of Time, Mountains of Madness here, etc…) or the unfathomably alien (Color Out of Space, Music of Eric Zahn) instead of weird polemics against people of foreign birth. I would have loved to see what he could’ve produced if his life hadn’t been so short – it’d be nice to think he could’ve sloughed off even more of the myopic racism as he continued to improve his style.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Eh, I’m halfway with Unaco on this one. I avoid the Lovecraft stories with racist themes, and love the ones where they’re absent or generally irrelevant. The Colour Out of Space, The Shadow Out of Time, At the Mountains of Madness, The Haunter of the Dark…good stuff.

      The Horror at Red Hook, The Shadow Over Innsmouth…not as much.

  7. MadMatty says:

    Theres very little anti-semitical or racist content in his works, infact you´d have to read between the lines to notice it.
    It was hardly uncommon for people at that time (1920´s USA) to have those sort of views. According to a movie about his life (cant remember the name, but its 1,5 hours and up on the net somewhere) he did loosen up a bit after living close to immigrants in New York, in the latter part of his career.

    BTW would you think TinTin in the Congos is racist?

    • Unaco says:

      See above.

      I’d have to read between the lines to notice it? Yes. And? Are you saying because he hid it well that it isn’t that bad? A carefully worded, subtle and well written racist tirade is more acceptable than a blatant one? Did he specifically hide these views between the lines?

      And so what if those views were common at the time… They’re no less abhorrent, and it in no way excuses him incorporating them into his work.

      I can look past the man, judge their work separately from their private lives and attitudes… but not in this case, when I can see clear evidence of his attitudes in his work.

    • Legionary says:

      Except you’re only seeing it because you’re looking for it. There’s lots of “can be interpreted” in your criticism of Lovecraft’s writings — are you sure you’re not trying to make the facts fit your theory?

    • Lemming says:

      Racist by today’s standards certainly. But not at the time, so irrelevant. This whole ‘Lovecraft and Howard were racist!1′ shtick is older than they are now, ffs.

      By toady’s standards Burroughs was the most racist of them all, but we are getting a Disney movie out of it.

      Noddy had Gollywogs that lived in a forest and jacked Noddy’s car. Now THAT was pretty racist, as it was teaching kids to be afraid and expect the worst from those of a different ethnicity. I’ve read all of Lovecraft and Howard, and a bit of Burroughs and I’ve not seen anything remotely on that level.

    • Unaco says:

      @Legionary

      No. I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one who has interpreted Lovecraft’s works as being influenced by the obvious, blatant and vicious racism and anti-semitism that Lovecraft definitely believed in in his private life. Lovecraft was a racist… this is undeniable. I feel that Lovecraft incorporated that racism into his works. I don’t think I’m seeing it because I want to… I think I see it because it is there, and I’m not the only one.

      @Lemming.

      Again… No. I’m fairly sure his attitude was considered racist at the time as well. And relevant to today. Like I say… if he hadn’t incorporated his racism into his works, then I would be able to tolerate them, I guess. But he didn’t keep them separate (by my interpretation). Plenty of other authors and artists have held reprehensible views… but not all of them incorporated those views into their work.

    • BenLeng says:

      As a big Lovecraft fan I have to agree with Unaco: Lovecrafts racism is something that infuses his work on a subtle level. I think it is important, because the same fears and insecurites, the same bleak worldview, that are the basis for his horror, are the roots of his racism.
      This does not make Lovecraft a very likeable person but I think one can learn a lot from his storys about the special kind of contempt for humanity that can make a otherwise well educated and intelligent man a racist.
      Just with the reactionary nationalism of Mishima I find the ideology of the author despicable but nontheless something that is integral to his work. I think to only accept storys, written by someone who shares your worldview leads to a dangerously narrow mind. Art can express a worldview. If the worldview is hateful and different to mine, it helps me understand it and to be frank I find it not only interesting but highly entertaining.
      I am actually far more concerned about the much more subtle racist undertones of more modern works like Lord of the Rings or Star Trek.

    • johnpeat says:

      I’m with the people who say that racism and anti-semitism is only present in HPL (and Howard)’s word if you go actively looking for it or forget the values of the times in which they were written.

      Both HPL and REH were fairly strange individuals – to say the very least. The fact they produced some respected works of fiction in their time is bound to reflect a bit of that.

      If you consistently attempt to apply the values of here and now to then and there, you’ll spend a lot of time fuming over nothing…

    • Sif says:

      “Theres very little anti-semitical or racist content in his works, infact you´d have to read between the lines to notice it.”

      Look, I love Lovecraft man, but you don’t really have to read very far between the lines at all to find the racism. Especially in his earlier works. (Tall white Nordic people of Lomar versus the “squat yellow creatures [...] whom they call “Esquimaux””? Almost all of the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family? Red Hook, for pete’s sake, someone even quoted Lovecraft explicitly saying it was an anti-foreigner screed)

      “I’m with the people who say that racism and anti-semitism is only present in HPL (and Howard)’s word if you go actively looking for it or forget the values of the times in which they were written.”

      It’s a weird idea, that racism doesn’t have an expiration date. While they grew up in a time when explicit racism was openly condoned and encouraged, and you can certainly bring that into your estimation of their work, that doesn’t mean that work wasn’t racist.

  8. magnus says:

    During times like these I find it best to silence your inner Guardian reader.

  9. johnpeat says:

    I cannot believe that people have not noted whether this is “cyclopean” or not – HPL didn’t manage to write 2 pages without using that word and we’re close to the end of page 1 ;)

    • Bobby Oxygen says:

      I’ll see your “cyclopean” and raise you an “eldritch”.

    • johnpeat says:

      Cyclopean WAY outnumbers eldritch I reckon – if you read through an HPL collection it starts to appear more like a hidden word puzzle than something which means anything

      “Must get that word into this paragraph somehow – ok, we’ll goto a church”.

  10. djbriandamage says:

    My wife and I stayed subscribed to Bigfish for a full year and snagged many fun games for $7 each. One of my faves was another light adventure game based on the Diner Dash universe (yes there’s really a universe) called Avenue Flo. It’s very charming and lighthearted and would be perfect to play with kids, though some of the puzzles do get a little tricky. My wife and I smiled a lot playing this game (but not so much during the weaker sequel).

    I do recommend having a look at http://www.bigfishgames.com though. Even if you only snag that $2.99 introductory subscription offer you can cancel your sub immediately after buying your first game. However, give it a bit of a chance as their website and business model are really great. You can play 95% of the games for free for 1 hour which is much more compelling than most demos. You can entertain yourself for a year playing nothing but 1-hour trials, but in my opinion $7 is just the right price for a casual game.

  11. Wulf says:

    A hidden object game is far, far from the worst thing to happen to Lovecraft.

    He ended up turning into a Lovecraftian monster himself, once. Then Atomic Robo drove into him with an electricity-riddled car.

    That was probably the worst thing to happen to Lovecraft.

    (I love that comic.)

  12. wu wei says:

    I must respectfully disagree. Hans Rodionoff’s Lovecraft might just have it beat.

    Atomic Robo really does rock though, especially Dr Dinosaur.

    (Bah, reply-fail to Wulf above)

    • Wulf says:

      Hard to not love Dr. D though. He’s entirely, appreciably silly.

      But it is plugged into crystals!!

      Can’t help but get the feeling about him though that he’s actually a transdimensional traveller who–due to transdimensional travel lag–incorrectly believes that he solely travelled through time alone. And who knows what transdimensional travel can do to the mind.

  13. Walf says:

    The folks over at Dark Adventure Radio Theater did a faily wonderul audio drama version of it as well.

    http://www.cthulhulives.org/radio/DART/dart-atmom.html

    Some might scoff at it, but I myself liked the way they presented it like an original radio serial from the era it was written.

    • Dave Mongoose says:

      I bought the boxset of their audio dramas and they’re all very enjoyable: the majority of the acting is excellent and a lot of effort has been put into adapting them to the medium while staying true to the feel of the original writing.

      H P Podcraft is another good site for Lovecraft – so far in their weekly podcasts they’ve discussed almost all of Lovecraft’s stories, and they’ve produced some excellent readings too. ‘Haunter in the Dark’ is particularly good.

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