Unless you wait for the reimagining of the original Silent Hill, Wii owners are pretty much limited to a port of Resident Evil 4 in terms of survival horror games. Cursed Mountain, exclusive to the Wii, provides a unique and hardcore experience that is definitely a respectable effort by Deep Silver.
Built somewhere in-between Silent Hill and Fatal Frame, Cursed Mountain focuses on spirits and other ghostlike entities to spook the player. Unlike action packed shooters like Resident Evil 5 or Left For Dead, this Wii exclusive plays more like an old school survival horror game. Taking the time to walk through each environment carefully, collect clues, and read through scripts to unravel a mystery is much slower style of gameplay that other over-the-shoulder games in the genre.
You play as Eric, brother to a veteran mountain climber who has mysteriously gone missing after searching for a long lost artifact upon a fictitious mountain. Cursed Mountain’s environment is definitely one of the most unique features about this game. Instead of fighting your way out of a zombie infested city, you are tasked with climbing a mountain. Elements like snow and low oxygen levels actually come into play as it makes travel more difficult as the game progresses. Snow storms make it difficult to establish where you have been and where you are going while the lack of oxygen makes your character clumsier and helps set the overall atmosphere of the game.
Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller set up, the game mostly takes place from a behind-the-back/shoulder third person perspective. Both movement and camera control is controlled solely with the Nunchuk’s analog stick which can make navigating some corridors a little cumbersome. By default, the camera is actually kind of set with a lower position with an upward angle. This works well enough to see what is ahead and around you, but prevents the player from seeing what is directly in front of him – like when collecting an item from the floor. You will know an item is there due to the tall shining light indicator, but you won’t know what that item is until it pops into your inventory.
When the player moves into first person view mode by pressing Down on the d-pad, the camera is still controlled with the analog stick as opposed to using the Wii IR-sensor. Even though it still works well, it is just strange how this featured was not included into the game’s play control scheme. This first person mode will also be used to attack hostile sprits through the use of your enchanted pick-ax.
The pick-ax is the equivalent to a Swiss army knife; it is used as a hand-to-hand weapon, a long range weapon, and a tool to help climb and bust open item-containing pots. During the quest, this pick-ax will be imbued with magical powers to help exorcise the ghostly souls. This “jack of all trades” weapon/item is a simple way to keep the player out of the menu system and into the more streamlined gameplay.
Cursed Mountain probably makes some of the best use of the Wii Remotes speaker to date. In game, the player will receive radio calls that are played through this speaker. The fit is right because the quality of this wireless speaker isn’t the greatest, but definitely works well in this instance.
Any player of Silent Hill will tell you that the soundtrack is probably the biggest influencing factor when creating a scary mood. Cursed Mountain furthers this notion through the use of creative audio clues to generate a sense of dread and worry. When in first person view, you can hear the playable character having trouble breathing due to the shift in air pressure. The Wii Remote speaker will announce screams and rumble at the right moment to help create those “ahhh!!” moments. All voice work is nicely done too, especially when layered with the game’s comic book style cutscenes. It is easy to see the thought that went into this.
Another factor that coincidentally works out is the game’s graphical qualities. Because the Wii isn’t exactly the most powerful system, the developers used fog effects to help create the game’s haunting atmosphere. At the same time, the Wii simply can’t create a long draw distance, so using the fog effect is one way to hide the weaker graphical capabilities of the Wii. For a Wii game, Cursed Mountain was definitely created with some extra effort. Animations, weather effects like the snow storms, and even small details, like a flag flapping in the background, all contain a higher Wii quality. The environments are more on the static side, but again, it is most likely a Wii horsepower concern.
All in all, the game will probably take around 12-15 hours to complete. With no multiplayer to any significant bonus features, replay value is quite low. Although not for everybody, any Wii owner looking for something a little different on their “kiddie/minigame” system might want to give this game a shot, especially fans of original survival horror games.
Better Than: Climbing a real mountain
Also Try: The Fatal Frame series
Wait For It: Silent Hill (Wii)