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Little Bugs, Big Themes

  • Volrath
  • 12/30/2017 08:33 PM
  • 1200 views
Mownt: For Peace was an entry in the 2017 Indie Game Maker Contest, where I played it for the first time as a judge. It's an engrossing little game with one of the most thematically complex stories I've ever seen in RPG Maker.



The Mownts are small insects with some telepathic abilities. Their small society is really having a hard time as the game begins. An advancing ant colony is determined to take over their homeland and a monstrous wasp-like creature called The Clinger is always lurking just outside their borders. A higher power takes an interest in one particular Mownt and asks you (the player) to try and guide him down a path that will bring him peace.

Will you have to face the ants or The Clinger? Will you strike out on your own or start a family? These are decisions you can make and they will put you on one of many different paths. Regardless of what you do, your first attempt will end in tragedy. However, you can restart the Mownt's life and try again. As you make your way through the various storylines, which are short enough to keep the player engaged throughout, a creeping existential terror sets in as a happy ending seems more and more elusive.

The game's graphics are all original, with a nice color palette and simplicity that suit its diminutive lead character. The dialogue is clear, if without much character, and the music is often very catchy.



The combat isn't very complicated but there is some variety. In addition to some base skills the Mownt always starts with, new skills will be gained as a result of whatever partnerships you make. Interestingly, every time the player gets one of the endings, the Mownt learns a skill that he will carry with him next time, suggesting that some part of his subconscious remembers his past lives. While it's usually fun enough, the longer fights can get tedious. Despite the variety of skills, it's hard to develop much of a strategy other than using your best attacks as often as possible. A casualty of the short length, I suppose.

There are a number of little quirks added in for the player's convenience. One ability will allow you to skip non-boss battles you've already done in other lives. There is also a special room that can move you forward in time to a particularly important moment with several different outcomes. "Leveling up" would be strange in a game where you're starting the story over so often, but collecting enough goodies on the map will make the Mownt stronger.

The (final) ending is something of a Rorschach test for the player. Some may find it uplifting, others may find it bleak. Either way, it will likely get you thinking about some of life's big questions. How much of the suffering we endure is inevitable and how much is a result of the failures of our institutions? Some of the tragedies the Mownt deals with are a result of his own choices, but others are brought on by the society he is a part of. How much should we ask from life? Is a happy ending just a carefully chosen place to conclude a story before the passage of time brings more inevitable tragedy?

This might be some of the stuff that goes through your head once you're done with this game. Not bad for a story about little bugs.

Posts

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zDS
Besr Richard Slayer
5044
Thanks for the wonderful review! I'm glad this game stuck with ya!

The ending was something I thought of from the very beginning. For a creature who must face such dire circumstances I feel like their view of the world and our concepts are entirely different. The life of the Mownt is hard and it's all they know. I wanted to make a small world and exhaust its possibilities (as much as reasonably possible) and more or less make those endings all true.

All in all, I'm quite pleased the story made you think questions like that. When I make stories, I try to be as honest to myself as possible and hope for the best once I let it loose upon the world. Reactions like this make me think "hey I'm doing something right, huh!"
Thank you for taking your time to make a review. I'm glad you had fun playing this strange little game. As zDS said, it also makes me feel like I might be doing something right, lol. Not too long ago I was struggling just to learn how to make music thinking I would never make any progress. So you thinking the soundtrack is catchy at times really makes the hard work pay off.

The same goes for pixel art. I'm still learning a lot, but I found it incredibly fun to turn my notebook drawings into the enemies you see in the game. The only thing I wish I had a little more time for were the battlebacks and animations. Those were done in the last few days with a lot of pressure over our heads haha.

Anyway, thanks again for playing our game and writing about it.
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