“…remember that the danger that is most to be feared is never the danger we are most afraid of.” – Andrew Lang
The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit is a point-and-click puzzle game based on the fairy tale ‘The Stone Cutter’ from The Crimson Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, published in 1903. It tells a philosophical tale of desires, wills and transformations.
Developer: The Philosophical School of Games
Released: 15th November 2022
Available on: Steam
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
Whilst primarily a point-and-click game, The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit does utilise some basic keyboard input on occasion, this is primarily for movement and uses WASD or the arrow keys. It is pretty intuitive to play but also displays the controls when any new action is introduced. The gameplay is somewhat linear and follows the main narrative but there are a bunch of missable side quests and in-game achievements to complete along the way. There is also a lot of variety in the puzzles which include logic-based, organisation, hidden object, maths and literal picture puzzles to keep things fresh.
The mechanics are used very closely in tandem with the story and the stone cutter’s character. One example of this is when the stone cutter starts to lose interest in his life and profession and smashing rocks becomes increasingly challenging for the player. In this way, the game is incredibly immersive and does a fantastic job of connecting the player and the protagonist.
The game’s narrative follows the stone cutter as he experiences luxury for the first time and becomes unenamoured with his existence. With the help of the mountain spirit, he undergoes several changes becoming increasingly powerful yet repeatedly dissatisfied. The evocative and thought-provoking story focuses on the stone cutters’ desires and how they also transform and comes to fruition with a meaningful revelation. It is told mainly through dialogue, narration and story-book style cutscenes and is delivered at a steady pace whilst maintaining a sense of intrigue.
The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit has a minimalistic illustrative art style with a static film grain type effect overlayed. The stylised artwork uses warm yellows and reds in contrast with cool greens and blues as part of its atmospheric colour palette. The cutscenes have some more detailed images ranging from photographic, to painterly, to traditional ink drawings creating a nice range of visuals. The soundtrack is varied and beautiful featuring East Asian instruments and pentatonic scales for a distinct sound that matches the game’s narrative and themes.
The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit is a short game and will take 1-2.5 hours to play depending on how thoroughly it is being completed. Despite this, it is packed with content with varied puzzles, beautiful and stylistic artwork and a mesmerising soundtrack that all complement the captivating and deeply evocative narrative. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and well-constructed experience and I’d highly recommend it to fans of relaxing puzzle games with a focus on storytelling.
You can also watch a full playthrough of The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit on the Indie HIve YouTube channel!
For more relaxing games, check out the following reviews:
A Little to the Left – Organisation is the Key to this Relaxing Puzzle Game – The Stillness of the Wind – A Relaxing Game with Goats! – Resonance of the Ocean – A Short Musical Puzzle Game