With so many ‘horror’ games (Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead) surrendering chills for all-out action, it’s reassuring to find a game determined to put the willies up you with tight narrative and brooding atmosphere rather than cheap shocks. It’s also great to see a mature Wii game that tries to do things differently.
Set on an ozone scraping peak, Cursed Mountain sees Eric Simmons on the trail of his missing brother only to find the treacherous terrain the least of his worries as legions of ghostly apparitions are determined to halt his progress. Unlike other games however, these tormented souls can’t be dispensed with shotgun shells, only with gesture-based Buddhist rituals that help them out of limbo and onto a new life. How sweet is that?
This touchy-feely, slightly hippy-ish vibe is continued with the use of incense sticks to heal and soon you half-expect to be asked to defeat the final boss with some scented candles and a foot-rub. The problem with this ‘right-on’ attitude to the slaying is that it takes an edge off the game and all the mist, dark corners and ghostly wailing fail to bring it back – basically this game isn’t that scary. Once the tension is gone what you’re left with is a cumbersome action adventure that tries to blend remote-friendly innovative controls with 15-year-old survival-horror conventions, a combination of new and old that’s as natural as your grandma on a Segway.
There are many flashes of quality, such as the mountain setting that generates the desire to get to the top to finish the game, but this is let down by the token effort to incorporate an entertaining rock-climbing system. Ultimately, you get the sense that there were many good ideas but along the way some conviction was lost, leaving this high altitude chiller feeling compromised and lukewarm.
Aug 25, 2009