Cursed Mountain - WII - Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

Dark and eerie. Those are the first two words that’ll come to mind when you see Cursed Mountain. Developed for Nintendo’s console from the ground up, this Wii exclusive takes aim at the survival/horror genre. Unlike other recent horror games, the developers aren’t using the genre as a synonym for third-person shooter. In its entirety, Cursed Mountain is searching for that creepy, ultra-scary place where players will question whether or not they should play with the lights turned off.

Thus far, the game is on the right track. Before getting down to those things that go bump in the night, the developers penned a story that revolves around a man and his missing brother, who disappeared while climbing the Himalayas. Determined to find his brother, the man decides to climb the mountain himself, hoping to discover any clues that could lead to his rescue. Little does he know that, similar to the town of Silent Hill, the area is plagued by a curse that traps the souls of anyone who perishes before leaving. Of course, it’s how they perish that is most interesting: as the tormented souls move through the land, they become violent, monstrous creatures. They’re not as grotesque as the monsters of Condemned; instead, the developers went for more a subtle, yet still very creepy design. In particular, one of your enemies could be described as an oversized and heavily mutated human.

Cursed Mountain Screenshot

If you’re one of the millions of gamers who feel that darkness is scarier than sunlight, you’ll be pleased to know that there don’t appear to be many bright moments in Cursed Mountain. The hazy, gray-ish black visuals are very cool and intense. There’s a measure of eeriness tied to the way the fog – intentional fog – sways through the environment. It’s an effect that is unavoidably reminiscent of Silent Hill, and not in a way that’ll make you scream, “It’s a clone!” But in a way that might make you scream, “This is genuinely scary!”

To enhance the freaked-out effect, the game uses brief real-time sequences to introduce new scenarios. The camera is generally stable but may purposely lunge toward an enemy, with bone-chilling music blasting in the background, to surprise gamers as they enter the world for the first time.

Cursed Mountain Screenshot

At this stage in development, the controls are pretty solid. Players use the Wii remote and Nunchuk in the same way they’d use a standard game controller: the thumbstick moves your character, the A button triggers on-screen actions, etc. The motion features come into play when you are attempting to free souls. You could just kill them, but if you choose to show compassion, they’ll heal your wounds. Souls are freed by shaking the remote in a particular way – the movement is shown on screen, so you’ll always know what to do next.

Like other Wii action games, you attack by holding down the C button, which pulls up your weapon (an ice pick) and aim with the motion-sensitive remote. That ice pick has great significance to the story: it belonged to the main character’s brother. When mixed with Buddhist ritual knives, the pick becomes a magical weapon that can blast away evil and tormented souls.

Cursed Mountain tops off the horrific journey with an unpredictable soundtrack. There aren’t any emotional pieces (at least not yet), but the music is thrilling and powerful, and should have what it takes to keep you on the edge of your seat.

It’s impossible to judge the full-game experienced based on one E3 demo, but if Cursed Mountain can retain its creepy, cool atmosphere till the credits roll, this could be one of the best horror games of the generation. If nothing else, here’s hoping the final game is scary enough to make us keep the lights turned on.

 

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