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.
(Spoilers within, might want to play the game yourself first. It’s very short and can be finished in 1-2 hours.)
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 a similar anti-nihilist thing as I Miss the Sunrise, 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.