Marble Mountain aims to be the 21st Century Marble Madness. A lofty aspiration, to be sure, but admirable in this day and age. Developed by Lightning Rock Studios, this 4-person team took on a legend from the past, while pushing into the future with a VR-enabled game.
Having played this at PAX South this year, I was definitely interested in seeing where Marble Mountain was going to go in the genre. In San Antonio, I played the first couple levels using the HTC Vive headset. Not having a VR headset of my own, I relied on my trusty 2D monitor to take me through the motions. One thing I will mention in the difference between playing in VR and playing on a monitor was that I felt the camera angles were better in virtual reality. There are plenty of times the camera position or camera movement led to my own demise.
As there’s no real story to speak of, I want to jump into the level design. It is clear that this is the main focus of the game. There are multiple areas that the puzzles fall into like grassy knolls, desert mountains, underground lairs, and lava levels. Much like Marble Madness, you will encounter obstacles, precision rolling, and enemies. Where I feel Marble Mountain falls short is it doesn’t seem to want to challenge you as much. Almost like they were afraid people would not continue if they made it difficult to proceed. That is not to say there is not some difficulty in the game. There were multiple areas that took me more than a few tries to overcome the obstacle, but I never quite felt challenged during the entire process. Everything in the game is fairly linear and the enemies are avoidable. In an era of gaming that touts the challenging game (a la Dark Souls), I felt Lightning Rock could have ramped the difficulty up a notch.
Even with the slightly easy lean of the game, the experience is still enjoyable. The music is a particularly bright spot with an assortment of tracks that are varied, and never wear out their welcome. I also liked the variety of marbles to choose from and unlock, as well as the hats you can earn and place on your marble. Along with the colorful environments, this gives the game a whimsical flavor.
Overall, Marble Mountain is an enjoyable indie experience. The game is definitely for those of you, like me, have a fond recollection of Marble Madness and wish to capture that feeling again. This game will also appeal to those looking for a relaxing puzzler or an interesting brand new experience on a VR headset.