The Bestest Best Landscape Of 2014: Mountain

Most PC games are about terrain, but Mountain was the only monadnock this year to cause the RPS chatroom to feel empathy, to mellow, and to excitedly compare notes.

Alec: Passive game-viewing is the new game-playing, apparently. I’m not quite ready to leave the homeland and sign aboard the HMS Twitch myself, but Mountain made for a happy medium. The game that plays itself. The game that tells me when something of note has occurred. Hell, the game which tells me which emotion to feel. A simple line of text and a tiny musical sting evokes so much more than an impeccably-rendered CGI face trying to show love or regret while orchestral strings swirl, it turns out.

Mountain is nothing more than a slightly adjustable window into somewhere else, and a kernel of tranquility amidst the chattering chaos of everyday electronic life. It’s not something I’d ever have said I needed, but it turned out to be just what I needed. I just wish it had arrived a little later. The RPS Hivemind found calm and joy on the increasingly not-so-bare mountain not all that long before Certain Events In Videogameland. Perhaps it could have been a much-needed eye to shelter in during that particular storm.

More important than any of that is that A BRIGHT AEROPLANE LANDED ON MY MOUNTAIN YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY

Pip: I loved my mountain when it first showed up and delighted in the little pings and “thoughts” it would share as we both went about our business. I took dozens of screenshots, glorying in the different types of light and the weather effects, keen to capture the same thing over and over like I was Monet discovering a haystack over and over again. It was a calming thing. A kind of desktop bonsai tree.

But then the stuff started arriving. Whimsical stuff. A horse, a clock, a skull all crashed into my mountain. I wanted to lean into the screen and pick them off. They seemed crass and jarring. I wanted the changes in my mountain to be erosions and landslides, forests and forest fires – not these junkyard gewgaws. The skull was okay though. I’d decided it was a memento mori. I still found the mountain calming but I didn’t want to look at it as much.

And then Graham’s mountain died. I don’t think any of us is quite sure what happened to it but he woke up after leaving it running overnight and pffft – no more mountain. After that, having mine open was like sitting with a Buckaroo donkey on my desk. I knew it would eventually snap and break, losing its covering of knickknacks and detritus. Sure I could restart but it wouldn’t feel the same. That one was mine.

Mountain is a tiny thing, and sparked a lot of angry BUT IT ISN’T A GAME spluttering. I don’t care. I enjoyed the experience I had with it and felt strongly enough about *my* mountain that I will never boot the game up again once it’s gone. That’s a rare feeling and one worthy of comment.

Graham: My mountain died :(

I knew there was an expiration date set for my pet rock, but I thought we had more time. After a charming day spent peering at its beautiful details and sharing notes of its detritus with everyone else in the RPS chat – I just got a horse! Ooh, you’ve got a lovely umbrella – I went to bed and left it running. I was looking forward to waking up and surveying all that happened across the evening. Alas, too much had happened, it seemed.

Like Pip, I never booted the game up again because it felt wrong. I had interacted with my mountain only so far as to spin the camera around it, to fast forward time, to find the mysteries in its skies, and to tinker with the playable notes, but the distinctions between my collected tat and Pip, Alice, Adam and Alec’s still made it feel mine. The experience could have been repeated, but it couldn’t have been replaced.

It’s easy to be dismissive of experiences so slight and so briefly interactive, but if you’ve ever enjoyed watching a tiny videogame world bustle away after you’ve put down your control, or relaxed with something like Rainy Mood, then Mountain has something to offer you.

You can find us sharing our first thoughts on Mountain over here.

Back to the complete bestest best PC games of 2014.

29 Comments

  1. padger says:

    The Mountain Is Quite Good.

  2. SlimShanks says:

    Erm… I’m all for RPS writing about whatever they want, (except for the writer who doesn’t belong) but when the title is Bestest Best Landscape, I’m gonna have to call you out. Tons of games this year had great environments, that mountain looks mediocre at best. So please use titles in a less misleading manner.
    Unless you don’t care in which case just ignore me.

  3. Monggerel says:

    games is not real

  4. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    I had no idea that Rainy Mood was a thing, but I have a ten-minute rain recording on my PC (made years ago when some friends were testing out a microphone) which I stick on a loop whenever I’m reading. I’ve always thought this made me strange and been a bit embarrassed about it. Now I don’t know what to think.

    And for what it’s worth, I thought Mountain was a fun little thing and never understood all the ire.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      Not even a smidge weird. There’s all sorts of stuff like that, that people listen to. Youtube is awash with it too.

    • Cockie says:

      It’s not weird, plenty of people feel uneasy without it – your senses are attuned to a certain amount of input, and when you’re reading you get less than that amount, hence you feeling uneasy.
      That amount varies from person to person though, white noise drives me crazy after only half a minute. I almost constantly listen to music though…

      • B.rake says:

        Have you heard of the Norway’s “Slow TV”? They broadcast things like 128 hours of salmon spawning or 12 hours of nonstop knitting action! Apparently it’s quite popular as well
        link to grantland.com

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      I love rainymood.
      Another great page like that is link to noisli.com

    • povu says:

      Rainymood with the LA Noire soundtrack is great for some relaxed reading.

    • B.rake says:

      relaxation? link to youtube.com

  5. Joshua Northey says:

    Meh over-discussed stunt garbage.

  6. Shardz says:

    Judging by reviews I read on Googly Play months ago, this isn’t really a game at all…and not a very good one at that. It doesn’t look like the PC version has much more on the Android version. It’s a spinning floating island and that’s about it.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      That is indeed what is being discussed here as a significant artefact.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      Yeah. I was going to buy this Metaphorical Book, but then I remembered someone told me months ago that the cover sucked.

  7. M4j0rTr4g3dy says:

    Kids today, justifying their shitty purchases by handing them awards. Next they’ll be watching other kids play games…oh wait.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      It’s nothing to do with “kids” to be honest, not sure why you had to play grumpy old man here when it has nothing to do with it.
      It has everything to do with self-appointed “artistics” spouting off about some inane crap and trying to make out like it’s the best thing ever “you just don’t get it”, as a means to attempt to make themselves look cleverer than everybody else. It’s seeping over into gaming and nonsense crap like Mountain is a prime example of this. It is nothing, devoid of any meaningful substance, pointless. “Lets give it an award because all of you people saying “This isn’t a game, it’s a screensaver” just aren’t clever enough to understand it.”

  8. Flatley says:

    Bill Watterson always had appropriate sentiments for this type of thing. His “This is my latest snow scuplture” Sunday strip captures it perfectly.

  9. Wret says:

    …this does sort of remind me of this open sourced game I found a while back. I almost immediately lost patience with it but it was basically a small home/yard in a cartoon fantasy world with some silly characters. The idea was you would visit it every once in a while, and things would be different, as if it existed when you weren’t looking. Perhaps now would be a good time to find it again.

  10. Urthman says:

    This is basically a “game” for people who are already using their computer for something else and want to have a little distraction on the side.

    Those of us who can’t play games at work (or while “working” at home) are looking for something a little more actively engaging when we turn on the PC for some gaming time.

  11. djbriandamage says:

    If you enjoy not playing games I’d highly recommend Progress Quest. It’s an RPG you don’ t play nor participate in whatsoever and it’s extremely charming.

    link to progressquest.com