|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Deep Silver||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Deep Silver||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Just because the shambling re-animated masses are still the hot flavor of the moment doesn't mean there's not room for some good old ghost stories in the gaming world. For some, the prospect of malevolent, demonic spirits invading our realm is far creepier than the gore-strewn campiness of zombie apocalypses. Deep Silver bucks the latest trend by instead choosing to reach beyond the veil to reveal some horrifying haunts steeped in ancient legend and Buddhist mysticism.
The howling winds blow eerily through the cold Himalayan mountaintops, providing a foreboding setting for a horror-infused adventure in the dark valleys below and atop the ice peaks high above. A little spookiness is just what the Wii needs, and Cursed Mountain has it in great supply. It may not dodge enough bullets to be dubbed a truly amazing survival-horror experience on the console, but it does send a few cold chills down the spine and deliver an occasionally unnerving performance that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Following the strange disappearance of his younger brother Frank, seasoned mountain climbing veteran Eric Simmons heads to the Himalayas in search of his lost sibling. Upon arriving at the villages along lower reaches of the mountain range, it appears something sinister has viciously slain many of the region's inhabitants and chased-off the few remaining survivors. It's here in these cold abandoned streets that Simmons picks up the first clues of his brother's passing, which spurs him to ascend higher and places him into far greater danger than he could have possibly imagined. The demonic spirits are restless, and their new hobby of stalking the living does not bode well for the aging mountaineer.
Exploring the grim, barren town landscape and the grounds beyond soon reveals that, despite appearances, you're not alone. The oppressive feeling of being watched and early encounters with the first shadowy denizens that emerge from the surrounding fog are definitely jarring. You can always tell when ghosts are afoot, as the muted colors in your surroundings drain away to a dark gray, a creepy fog rolls in, and the soundtrack grows more ominous with each step, though in what form they'll manifest changes up from time-to-time. But what fun is a game about evil spirits, if there's no way to fight them? Simmons soon finds himself in possession of a blessed pickaxe that has the power to vanquish the evil entities. Even so, doing battle with those from beyond isn't as easy as swinging the thing around, since creatures will often surround you or evaporate and re-appear in a different location. Other times they'll erect a dead zone around you that saps your life force slowly until you dispatch them.
Moving around and wielding your pickaxe with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk is fairly straightforward. Simmons can jog, but his overall momentum tends to be on the sluggish side. A short way into the game, you'll gain the ability to focus you mind and look deeper into the spirit world to scan for ghosts and paranormal hotspots. While pretty slick in concept, this also introduces a slightly awkward over-the-shoulder camera angle and unwieldy motion controls that make it extremely challenging to overcome your ghostly adversaries, particularly when dealing with more than one at a time or with tougher boss encounters. In this enhanced visual perspective, you can point with the Wii Remote to aim an energy blast at foes or lock onto a hotspot and trigger a special technique to dispel them. The latter brings up a confusing interface that requires you to chop or thrust in different directions in a sequence. Flailing around at random works a little too well, which is disappointing. The main issue comes with trying to aim at moving targets or react quickly when enemies get too close for comfort. It's not a deal-breaker, but there's definitely room for improvement here.