The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit
The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit is an interactive narrative game based on the Japanese folk tale with a similar name, published by Andrew Lang in “The Crimson Fairy Book” (1903). It’s a beautiful fable that teaches us to be content with what we have instead of constantly yearning for more wealth and more power. It’s a tale about envy, greed and arrogance yet one which eventually leads to a deep understanding that the essence of happiness is being humble and satisfied with yourself.
The legend follows the journey of a hardworking man who was happy with his life as a stone cutter and the simplicity of it until one day when he felt a string of envy at someone else’s riches. He then wished for the wealth he could see in front of his eyes, and the Mountain Spirit magically granted him his wish. Soon enough though, he started to want more – this time he craved the power of the emperor, who rules above all people in the realm. His wish was granted again, only for him to immediately desire to become as powerful as the sun. The Mountain Spirit kept granting him his wishes, and each time this happened, the stone cutter became more insatiable and more arrogant, misusing his newly found powers in cruel ways. Ultimately he becomes a mountain, and as a stone cutter chips at its rocks, he comes to the realization that he made a mistake all along by not being grateful for what he already had and instead trying to be someone else than himself. As his last wish, he desires to return to his humble life.
It was one of my favorite stories when I was a little kid and seeing it unravel in front of my eyes almost as an animated movie brought back some nostalgic memories. The shape in which the fable took form through this little gem of a game is deeply satisfying, and the hand-drawn artwork is simply amazing.
The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit plays as a linear point & click adventure, with a few puzzles to solve on the way, with minimum interaction required. These minigames add flavor to the story and keep the player entertained for the whole session of 1h-1.5h that the game lasts.
There are 36 achievements to obtain, a lot of which are missable. These are awarded for talking to some specific NPCs or completing some optional short quests. While there is a chapter-select after finishing the game for the first time, allowing you to revisit the sections in which you missed some achievements, a 100% completion can easily be obtained in a single playthrough, as long as you click on all NPCs to trigger their dialogues and complete the few optional quests that exist. The achievements and minigames are very casual and don’t require much effort from your part, which in my opinion is great, considering that this is a game designed to immerse the player into its narrative. A couple of them require fast clicking, but they are also extremely doable, and nothing is timed.
I warmly recommend The Stone Cutter and the Mountain Spirit for the remarkable moral lesson that it teaches us – one very needed in this time and age, and for its impressive visuals. Both its concept and realization are great, and it’s suitable for both younger and older audiences.