• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

A shallow miseryfest

This review was originally posted on review blog Dragon Quill. The original post can be found here.

This review contains spoilers, as the game is so short it's hard to meaningfully discuss its contents otherwise. You should probably play it yourself before reading.

In Mownt: For Peace you guide an insect-like creature through multiple lives in a quest for peace. Despite the interesting premise, I found the game unremarkable. The gameplay is utterly meaningless; you can outheal almost every enemy, so battles are a foregone conclusion. The story is actually pretty linear; it’s clear you’re expected to do the endings in a specific order, and the game doesn’t even try to hide this fact. After a while, they get very predictable; the PC is never allowed to find peace, and the plot creates increasingly contrived diabolus ex machina to railroad you onto the next ending.

I overall found the story to be needlessly bleak and reductive. The game never really does anything with the idea of multiple choices and never gives you any true agency; there are never cases where you find different kinds of peace, or find some kind of other fulfillment but not peace — it’s just always misery. At one point it even breaks the fourth wall to say there is literally nothing but void outside of the game area, so escape is impossible. That’s not saying anything meaningful about real struggles, it’s just narrative sadism. Misery is not inherently deep. It has to serve some purpose and have some real verisimilitude, and I don’t see that here. The initial premise is applicable to some real-life situations, but the utter futility of the resolutions are not.

And… the ending really bothered me. It tries to do an anti-nihilist thing, with the PC insisting that even though their life didn’t end happy, they still found peace in small moments throughout their whole life. Except they are a silent protagonist and the narrative is incredibly compressed so all of these moments happen offscreen or in summary, meaning we never get to experience these emotions ourselves. It feels even more hollow than a telling-not-showing problem — we’re not even told how the protagonist feels at those points. (Not that it extends the same policy to the misery, oh no! We get plenty of detail on how the protagonist feels about the bad stuff!) It could have been really effective to show each life as a full narrative with ups and downs, but only ever showing us misery and then calling the player out for focusing on the negatives is just incredibly tacky. It’s the narrative equivalent of “You are terrible for doing this thing when we gave you no other choice!” gameplay. But even that I’d be willing to accept, if only it didn’t also end with THE EXTINCTION OF ALL LIFE. Insisting that everything is doomed no matter what is just too much of a downer for me. No, we are not doomed, life is not inherently futile, can we please stop acting like this is the height of art and get over ourselves already?

I am also annoyed by the heteronormative romance and gender roles. There is no reason the creatures couldn’t have been hermaphroditic.

Posts

Pages: 1
zDS
Besr Richard Slayer
5039
I respect your opinions and understand that you did not enjoy this little story of mine. Thank you for taking the time to play and write a review for this!

However, I do not appreciate you accusing any of this of "acting like the height of art" and how I need to get over myself with this. There is criticizing one's work in hopes they improve and whatnot, but then there is just flat out attacking someone. The game is bleak, yes. The ending is also bleak. Bleak does not mean I think this is some masterful art piece.

I am also annoyed by the heteronormative romance and gender roles. There is no reason the creatures couldn’t have been hermaphroditic.


This is also extraordinarily ridiculous thing to say. There's about a million reasons why the creatures did not have to be hermaphroditic. Genders exist, especially in bugs. This game was in no way shape or form a statement that one style of romance matters. The genders of all the Mownt were mostly vague besides the main character and his possible mate. The most powerful creatures in the game were female, because in the bug life that's how it is often.

I added some humanity to the Mownt because it's easier to relate that way rather than making it some mindless insect. Which it's not something I didn't consider.

The story is actually pretty linear; it’s clear you’re expected to do the endings in a specific order, and the game doesn’t even try to hide this fact.


This is also very untrue. There are two ending possibilities unlocked by a certain event, but that does not mean you have to do it in order or that it is better in any certain order. The game's ending meant ALL the endings mattered and happen. Disagree with the quality of story telling or not, I more than meant for the endings to happen in random orders. In the room where you can view the endings you got, I listed them more or less in the order I made them. That does not mean it's a correct order you must play it in.
However, I do not appreciate you accusing any of this of "acting like the height of art" and how I need to get over myself with this.

I, uh, didn't? Thus the "we" pronoun and not "you". I was referring to this theme being tediously overused in the art world. If this story was an isolated event, I wouldn't be nearly as tired out by it.

That you immediately jumped to a Watsonian refutation for the gender roles thing shows that you misunderstood the nature of my objection, I think. If you want to talk about it, my cohosts on the source blog can probably explain it better.
This review sounds needlessly ironic and arrogant, you know well what you tried to say with "can we please stop acting like this is the height of art and get over ourselves already?"

Context matters and you were talking about the game, don't just try to evade it with semantics.

Who are you to say that? Stories full of doom and negativity exist and some of them are masterpieces, and this flavor is here to stay because a lot of people love it.

The only valid point you made is on gameplay, the rest of the review is about how you don't like negativity in games, there is plenty of reasons for "heteronormative romance" and it is not a bad thing. It frankly sounds ridiculous like the developer said.
I don't respect your opinion and I think you need to take a fucking chill pill because bugs have genders ffs. There's absolutely nothing wrong with having hetero relationships in games, you!
Ah yes, the gendered bug review. I forgot about that.
Gives me a good chuckle every time.
I loved this game. What's funny about this review is that the very things that are described as being bad are the things I liked about it. There was a point being delivered, and by the reaction of Dragon_Quill, it was well delivered. But some people don't know how to deal with negative feelings. Games like that are indeed not for everyone, and it's fine.


Although the "heteronormative" comment made the whole thing sound like trolling.
What's dumb about it though is that in eusocial bugs, gender is way more of a big deal than in mammals in terms of roles in the colony, they're borderline different species imo in the case of bees.

Everything else in the review is valid I guess, but if anything I would criticize this game of not making a bigger deal of the gender differences, but then again, mownts are a made up species so who cares.
author=Superstroke
mownts are a made up species so who cares.



;)
Pages: 1