The Mountain Pass

a Modern by Ogre11

Commended by JJJ-thebanisher on 1/29/2017 9:19:22 PM

Player Rating5.23/8

"#247 overall, #19 for 2017"
based on 76 ratings since 01/29/2017
played 882 times (finished 85)

Story Difficulty3/8

"trek through the forest"

Play Length3/8

"A nice jog down the driveway"

Maturity Level3/8

"must be at least this tall to play"
Contains content that may not be suitable for persons under age 10. If this were a movie, it would probably be between G and PG.
You wake up after a car crash and find yourself lost in the snow. Can you survive and get out alive?

For those interested in such things, there are eight bad endings and three good endings. Sorry about that, but there are lots of ways to die in the wilderness you know.

Created for January, 2017 New Frontier Contest

Player Comments

So let me begin this review by stating that I am someone who has, on many occasions over the last 20 years, intentionally set off into wilderness areas in the winter with a backpack to camp overnight in snowy conditions. Therefore the winter survival aspect of this story appealed to me, and I was curious to see what an "ogre" could bring to the topic.

Certainly the set-up to the story was imminently plausible--an underdressed motorist stranded on the side of a road in a snowstorm. Similar scenarios actually happened once or twice this past winter near me, in the Adirondacks; the victims were found dead in their vehicles days later, after being reported missing by their loved ones.

That said, when there is a blizzard in progress and you are dressed in a T-shirt and sneakers, it is a toss-up whether it is better to remain in your vehicle or head out and actively seek help. In this story, remaining in your vehicle leads to death... even though in another storypath, you discover a snowplow heading your way. Seems to me the least risky path to survival was to wait in your car for the snowplow to come to you.

I knew going into this story that there would be myriad ways to die an inglorious death. That is one of the tropes of a survival-themed storygame. So I was more interested to see what the author thought a wise and successful course of action might be, and whether he was someone with actual outdoor experience.

As it turns out, he wasn't. For instance, you would never walk off a road, slip down a small cliff, and find a fire tower. Never. Really, never. Fire towers were always sited on mountains and hilltops, so that they could command a view of the surrounding terrain. You hike UP to a fire tower, never down.

Nor would one ever be manned by a ranger in the winter, and certainly not in a blizzard. That little cabin at the top of the tower would be even colder and more exposed than your car stranded in the snowbank. Not only that, but the purpose of a fire tower is to spot forest fires, and the risk of a forest fire is zero in a snowy winter.

I read reviews that mentioned a hibernating bear. I didn't go out of my way to look for that ending because I doubted it would be plausible. I sped through various endings where I got buried by an avalanche, crushed by the snowplow, frozen in some kind of stick shelter, etc.

Actually, all of those death scenarios were far more complicated than they needed to be, if you are wandering through a blizzard in a T-shirt and sneakers. In reality, you'd succumb to hypothermia and/or frostbite long before any of those other things happened. It's not just the absence of insulation that's a problem, but the fact that cotton clothing gets wet easily. As any outdoorsy person should know, "Cotton Kills." By trudging through the snow in sneakers, your feet would be numb in minutes; if that shirt got wet from the snow, it would freeze onto your body. These are far more realistic and likely outcomes than any hibernating bear in a cave. (In my neck of the woods, bears don't hibernate in caves.)

So the most interesting thing about this story--or at least the portions of it I read--was the discovery of a cabin not far from my stranded car. Within the context of this story, that cabin is useless unless you previously obtained a specific item. Without that item, you wander until you die, or you fall asleep and die.

In reality, such a cabin would be stocked with essential supplies already--especially if the purpose of the cabin, as the park ranger explains, is to help people survive. In a backcountry setting, the stove would more likely be wood-burning anyway, and not a gas stove. But igniting a fire would not be your primary issue.

So this story is somewhat interesting, but generally inaccurate as far as an actual survival situation goes. Unfortunately, the author gets a little too cute with the advanced editor features and loses sight of the story; time spent on making the page headers look pretty, or planting that one essential item that proves to be useful later on, was time that wasn't spent in researching the subject matter or fleshing out the story.

This is a solid 5 for the effort, but no more than that for the missed opportunities.
-- Bill_Ingersoll on 6/13/2019 12:49:26 AM with a score of 0
I really appreciated that this was really non-linear and that the author took the time to give the reader the ability to make meaningful choices. The writing was good and the descriptions were well done. I really liked the diversity of the endings.

My major complaint was that the plot wasn't really interesting to me. While I had the ability to have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the story, I rarely felt drawn in by the circumstance enough to fully appreciate my choices. I don't think my apathy was a result of the writing so much as the concept; this story felt like the author didn't have an excellent idea of what they wanted to write, and simply produced a formulaic game to satisfy the contest deadline. This is a shame because the author can clearly write.

I have three minor complaints. Firstly, there was at least one (and maybe two) technical errors in the scripting. There was a page where there were three identical wander aimlessly links, and I was unable to light the gas stove with my lighter in the cabin. Secondly, I didn't like the decision to break the fourth wall ("you didn't think it would be that easy, would you?" .... the dice roll) but I know that it was deliberate so this mostly comes down to personal preference. Finally, I thought that the same description of snow and cold became a bit monotonous by the time I'd explored the story fully.

Most of this review has focused on the negatives, but all in all, this was certainly a polished, complete, and above-average storygame. I appreciate all of the hard work and the site is better for having it.
-- JJJ-thebanisher on 1/29/2017 7:49:53 PM with a score of 0
i dont think the snow was described as intricately as it could have been. white and white space was ok but i think maybe going into the specific types of white like egg white or ivory white. i also didnt approve of your use of rear but i did appreciate that the chapter called The Bottom was paralleling the fact that we the player hit the bottom of the pit and also fell on our bottom. i am a creative writing teacher and i greatly approved of that prose. i also enjoyed the part about the dirty sock. so relatable because its like you described my own car! ROFL! anyways keep up the great work and aim for the skies and stars but dont aim for real people if you work at a watch tower! thats the moral of my adventure! gg
-- the yeti on 7/16/2020 11:14:01 PM with a score of 0
Loved it!
-- pegleg on 9/17/2019 8:23:16 PM with a score of 0
This is a neat little survival game that can be won by using common sense. Give it a try if you haven't yet. It's relatively short.
-- DerPrussen on 4/28/2019 11:36:46 AM with a score of 0
LOL! Bad ending #3 is just... very educational! =D
"These hikers found the remains of a person and from what the Sheriff's department has been able to piece together, the person may have stumbled into the cave of a hibernating bear in the winter some years ago. While most people assume that hibernating bears are safe, the Ranger's office informs this news station that when hibernating bears are disturbed, they can be very angry, confused, and dangerous. It appears that the person may have tried to enter the cave, the bear woke up, and quickly killed the person. Rangers explain it may have eaten some of the person, then gone back to sleep, only to have a ready-made feast waiting for it in the Spring."
-- TestingJest on 1/7/2018 1:31:49 AM with a score of 0
Well written and fun!
-- daniel123 on 11/7/2017 11:33:27 AM with a score of 0
It's written well, but I couldn't see the point of the cabin, the forest, or the lighter.... I died about 5 times before I finaly got a good ending XD
-- Chickdove on 4/5/2017 9:16:44 PM with a score of 0
You describe snow well.
-- FazzTheMan on 3/7/2017 9:04:43 PM with a score of 0
It's pretty, um...

I did not get really immersed in this story. That being said, this is a storyGAME, and that's how they work.

I liked the number of choices, I liked how you chose to break the fourth wall, but the thing that kept me from leaving a higher rating was the fact that this is more game than story affected my experience more than it should. Coulda added a little background to my "unknown man protagonist" to make me sympathize more when he *SPOILER* gets chomped by a bear, crushed by a plow, etc.*END SPOILER*

Not the worst, but could have been bettter. 5/8.
-- AgentX on 2/11/2017 5:14:38 PM with a score of 0
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