David OReilly, a blazing star of the contemporary animation scene, released his first game titled Mountain on July 1st. His animated films The External World, OctoCat Adventures, and Please Say Something have a permanent home in my heart, and have collectively won a myriad of awards. More recently he has directed an episode of Adventure Time, “A Glitch is a Glitch,” as well as the animated video game scenes from Spike Jonze’s film Her. Mountain signals a new interactive path in OReilly’s ever-evolving body of work.

Mountain is many things, and simultaneously few. It is a game that is strange, beautiful, humorous, depressing, uplifting, reflective, random, and absent. The game makes you think…and search…and hope, only to find yourself drifting without control. The only way I can properly describe it, is to share a glimpse of my own gameplay.

The first few minutes of Mountain were a confusing blast of stimulation, followed by a sensation of being misled. As time continued, my relationship with the randomly generated mountain became more complicated. It became my mountain—an affinity towards the digital domain had taken root. I began to feel slight sensations of joy and sadness, all at the cost of $0.99.

My most memorable moment, so far, has taken place after a vibrant red heart crashed into my mountain during a rainstorm. I felt invigorated. I played a song, with the musical notes provided at the bottom of the screen, to welcome the new inhabitant onto my mountain. My improvised tune sounded pretty good, and the atmosphere surrounding the mountain responded. My mountain began to spin a little faster, and the rain changed to snow, covering my mountain in a sheet of sublime.

My first visitor was box. Then came clock, followed by egg, coin, and anvil. A top hat got incredibly close to landing at the pinnacle of my mountain, forcing me to realize how proud I almost could have been of such a random occurrence. A coffee cup has just been discovered near clock, as I’m writing this article. It is tipped on its side, embedded in low-poly earth, but the coffee contained refuses to spill.

The cascading trees on my mountain’s slopes change with the short seasons, and fireflies shine in the darkness of night only to disappear during day. I hope the symbolic visitors will continue to appear, and I fear for the disappearance of those who have already found a home on my lonely mountain.

From time to time, the mountain speaks its mind. It generates complex ideas and expresses emotion. Most of the time my mountain has a fairly good outlook on its situation. Other times I sense that it is merely attempting to continue to exist. It floats through space, completely alone, only to be randomly and chaotically barraged with foreign objects of no real importance.

Mountain offers its audience a chance to slow down, stop, and do nothing for a moment. Or maybe it offers them a chance to become frustrated and confused, and to deny any notion of artistic experience. Regardless, each player will walk away from the game with their own ideas. Mine are as follows: If you leave yourself vulnerable to change, and remain patient, even the most mundane of events can bring joy into a dull existence.

Mountain is available for Mac, PC, Linux, and iOS. Download and more info: Mountain-Game.com.

Caleb Wood

Caleb Wood

CALEB WOOD is an independent animation artist and moving image enthusiast. He incorporates several different mediums within his work, and aims to expand upon and promote the possibilities of animation. He received a BFA in Film/Animation/Video at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011, and has since gone on to show work internationally and continue making animated films. He is most interested in the dynamism of the mundane and overlooked, abstract, and all things moving. Visit his Tumblr.

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