I wanna explore the Mountains

Creator: Denferok

Average Rating
8.7 / 10
Average Difficulty
73.1 / 100
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Needle (9) Gimmick (2) Vine (2)


  • by Denferok
  • by Denferok

Creator's Comments:

Denferok [Creator]
I've released an update that nerfs almost every single screen, with the intention of bringing the game closer to the intended difficulty as the game was harder than I originally wanted it to be. Please redownload if you have the old version :)

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Tagged as: Needle Vine
[7] Likes
Rating: N/A       Difficulty: 70 70
Sep 11, 2017

23 Reviews:

Rating doesn't include extra; would give it an 80/100.

I'll start with a few of my gripes with the game. There's kind of a dip in quality in the middle of the main game, namely the jump refresher and gravity flipper screens; both were a little too awkward imo. The visuals were also a little bothersome; while they're really well done as a whole, at points they got a little too dark and detracted from the platforming, as you can't see where you have to go. Furthermore, the spike outlines are dark, and combined with a dark background, it's a little hard to see things. (Luckily nothing in the main game is frame perfect or requires you to know where precisely every part of every spike is, but it is still a slight nuisance). There are a lot of vine jumps going into gates; it's just not a very comfortable jump to pull off. Finally, the screen transitions in the final area are honestly pretty gross (there is the option to zoom out to see where you have to go, although this seems to be broken when you do transition between screens).

Aside from those aspects, the game was really fun. I generally dislike meshing as many gimmicks together as possible but I feel Den did this nicely. The final area is especially unique, and the final save is a good meme and the best usage of jump refreshers I have ever seen. If you can look past the issues I listed, I'd recommend trying this out.

As for the extra:
Portal 1 wasn't awful, though there are a few points that were a bit too awkward for my liking (such as the very first jump).
Portal 2 had a few jump refreshers that were a tad bit too close together and made it easy to mess up the jump, which was a slight bit frustrating; aside from that it was alright.
Portal 3 was my personal favorite in extra, being a platform jump chain, though I wish it was longer, as it's probably the easiest save in the entire game in my opinion.
I couldn't remember much of portal 4 after beating the game and I had to write this portion of my review after looking at a screenshot of it from Den; it doesn't do anything wrong and it was enjoyable, though it was the most forgettable of the bunch in my opinion.
Portal 5 was my least favorite of the bunch. First off, the tile set chosen isn't that good and there were portions that were kinda hard to see. The first save is twice as hard as any subsequent save because of the jump to the last jump refreshers, which is too precise for where it is in the save. The rest of the screen was fine but the first save was enough to put a damper on things. [Edit: turns out you don't need either jump refresher for save 1; disregard my complaints on it, I made it harder for myself.]
Portal 6 had a really neat concept and was pretty well done; I felt it could have still fit into the main game despite its length, as it was one of the easier screens in extra.
Finally, there's the grand finale: a save lasting 3 screens, akin to floor 100 of CN2. Kale should take notes because this segment blew floor 100 out of the water for a lot of reasons. Every jump was unique; there weren't any filler jumps that felt like they were only put there for you to die on; and no jump felt overly precise. The jumps that actually mattered in the segment were evenly spread throughout the save, unlike floor 100, where the first jump that matters appears on screen 2; I saw myself getting somewhat consistent at everything at an even pace while still retaining the overall challenge of the save, as opposed to getting stuck on a select few jumps because they're a difficulty spike and not getting enough practice on later jumps to get any good form of consistency on them. Finally, the thing I like most about all of this, is that the save felt actually together. In Crimson Needle 2, every room felt like its own save, but Kale just removed the save points between them; there's nothing connecting them, and it's not very smooth to play; everything in screen 2 feels like a giant wall because the difficulty is suddenly ramped up there, and everything after screen 2 just feels very choke-able and overwhelmingly stressful (I actually almost felt like I was going to pass out from it on my winning attempt). Den's save didn't have any of those issues; I was able to consistently progress in screen 3 without feeling stressed out about dying because I could actually get to it consistently. It was all around a very fun experience and, if you enjoy harder needle, I'd highly recommend trying extra out just for this save.

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Tagged as: Needle
[4] Likes
Rating: 8.0 80       Difficulty: 75 75
Dec 19, 2017
A really difficult needle game that's heavily based on vine use. It explores a lot of vine jump and vine pathing approaches that you don't really see in other fangames. Every save is a creative endeavor that really tries to feel different from the one before it. For most of the game, the saves are really fun to figure out and play through. Just be prepared for some hardcore vine shenanigans!

Unfortunately, I don't think this approach always worked. A number of saves suffered from having one really annoying and awkward jump, which is a common problem that results from a creator pushing a jump a little too much in the mission to create something new or interesting. While this kind of thing isn't so bad in some fangames, it's an issue in Explore the Mountains because the saves are all really long. It's no fun to die over and over trying to puzzle out an awkward jump halfway through a really long save.

I need to mention the extremely high quality of the gravity flipping area. It's some of the best flowing, best balanced, and all around most fun to play gravity flipping saves I've seen. I wish the rest of the game worked out quite this well for me, but most of the rest was still pretty fun.

The game looks incredible on a visual level, but I often found the lighting and fog effects to be distracting. Additionally, the spike tips didn't always contrast well with the backgrounds, resulting in me not properly judging spike pixels from time to time. While I understand the appeal of these sorts of visuals, I don't think they're a good match for a game that is as difficult as this. I also found it very difficult to find unactivated save points. On multiple occasions I did not realize a save point existed until I walked over it. I think that save points should stick out like a sore thumb, especially in a game like this that is so dependent on puzzling out the path from screen to screen.

I only go on about these faults because otherwise I think this is a unique and high quality game that ought to be on every experienced fangame player's list. I just wish these issues didn't get in the way of my enjoyment during some portions of the game.

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Tagged as: Needle Gimmick Vine
[3] Likes
Rating: 8.0 80       Difficulty: 80 80
May 3, 2017
This is probably one of the most polarizing experiences I have had playing a fangame.

I would say there's sort of 2 sides to my experience with Explore the Mountains. There's the first 60%, and then the everything else. But first let's talk about the whole package.

Explore is probably one of the most cohesive games I've ever played needle wise. It's definitely the best visually, with a distinct atmosphere you rarely find in the genre. Thanks to the lighting, the bright spikes vs the dark background and the saves being torches, there's a great feeling of truly feeling like you're exploring through uncharted, unmanned depths of a cave network. All the visual elements just work together to create something you don't see often: A comprehensive atmosphere.

What lends itself to this is the very specific design choice to include gimmicks that lend themselves to extra jumps, and letting you cross large distances with them. There's not a ton of exits to screens being close to the entrance of it and you just need to navigate around. You truly feel like you're crossing across leaps of obstacles.

And for awhile, this I felt was going to make this my favorite needle game. And for the first 60% it was. The design was creative and fresh, nothing irritated me, and I wasn't even having much of the often bemoned visual issues that plagued the game. I had a hard time even stopping at times.

Unfortunately, the last 40% of the game sharply and abruptly took the wind right out my sails, due to including a gimmick I really just don't like: Gravity flipping.

I don't blame den for including it, it fits thematically with the rest of the game and isn't a strange inclusion, but I really can't stand this gimmick. It's below conveyors and ice physics for me. Stuff that just messes with your vision and orientation is something I really at my core disagree with for needle. And it's not like the screens that include it are bad, far from it: The sequences involving them are very flowy once you figure it out, and there's great creativity, but this is a giant brick wall for me enjoying any sort of needle game with it.

Not only that, the purple stage is where I started to notice visual grievings. Saves felt like they were harder to see, spikes became far more unclear. I'm not sure if just a worse mood let me focus in on minor things I didn't notice before or what, but it started to compound everything.

The last part of the game is where, beyond just me not liking gravity flipping, I think is pretty flawed. It's a fun idea, and it's phenomenal in scale. But there's so much gross transition ganks where you just can't see where you're going without dying to it several times. It's obnoxious, especially since it is by far the hardest area of the game.

This is still probably my favorites of Den's games, showing some really great creativity and originality I would really like to see expanded on in the future. But there is some objectionable stuff, and more than a bit subjective grievings in the later half. But a good game none the less.

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[2] Likes
Rating: 7.0 70       Difficulty: 70 70
Apr 30, 2019
Ratings based on the updated version, extra not included.

This game has a lot of unique, compelling design and lives up to its title; rarely can a needle game manage to establish itself as a holistic experience in its own right, but Denferok succeeds in selling the narrative of the Kid exploring the uncharted depths of some far-flung mountain thanks to his careful attention to maintaining a consistent aesthetic and playstyle. There's nothing else quite like this game out there, and given that the average fangame rarely aspires to more than simple functionality as far as aesthetics are concerned, I feel Denferok's success with this approach warrants accolades.

But the game's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness - at times, the concept of cave exploration and the graphics themselves intrude on the base mechanics they are built around. To state it more plainly, there are many visibility issues, and some gimmicks are simply pushed too far for their own good. For most of the game, neither is too much of a game breaker, but it all comes to a head in the final (gigantic, maze-like) screen, which acts as a microcosm of both the game's strengths and its weaknesses. Conceptually, I love this area! Figuring out the zig-zagging path through the area is a lot of fun in its own right, and you really feel like you're an adventurer charting out the caverns as you proceed with each new save. Unfortunately, in practice, a lot of the design is just plain annoying - not only can you not fucking see anything (particularly spikes and saves), but there are many jumps that have their difficulty artificially inflated in an obnoxious way due to taking place through screen transitions. There's probably no quick, band-aid fix for the latter issue, due to how the screen was designed, but simply cooling it with the atmospheric lighting would have helped greatly with the former, both on this screen and throughout the game.

I really did enjoy this game overall, but there are too many minor annoyances throughout, both aesthetically and mechanically (infern0's review mentions some of my problems with the actual needle design), for me to rate it any higher than this. As it stands, the needle design is simply too difficult for it to blend well with the aesthetic design, and the flaws of both stick out as a result. That said, it really is a one-of-a-kind experience, and I'm definitely interested in playing more games by Denferok, so I hope he can improve from here.

Also, the last bit after the final stage was literally impossible to see without turning up my monitor's brightness. Like, seriously?

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[2] Likes
Rating: 7.0 70       Difficulty: 75 75
Jan 5, 2018
Incredible needle gimmick game. Relatively long, looks really nice, most of the design is fair and feels good to pull off when you get to the next save. The music is very Kreygasm also which is always a good thing. One of the best games released this year so far.


EDIT: I haven't done extra yet because it is like much harder than the base game but if I do end up doing it, I will update the review according to it.

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Tagged as: Needle Gimmick
[2] Likes
Rating: 9.2 92       Difficulty: 78 78
Apr 26, 2017