The best mountains in video games

People have always been indebted to the mountains. They are so incredibly massive! No matter where you look on the horizon, a mountain will stand somewhere, still, having witnessed so much history. They are a freak of nature, unfazed by the passage of time.

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They also have a lot of basis in symbolism. A mountain is something to overcome; they are something that represents completion, the journey up and down. And games take advantage of this abundance. Maybe a mountain literally blocks your view, maybe it’s an obstacle, or maybe it represents the themes of a game.

ten Mountain – The whole game!


A mountain of the mountain floating in space

For a game called Mountain, you sure hope it has good mountains. And that’s the case ! Mountain is a simple game that requires very little player interactivity. The game starts by asking you some questions, and you draw something to answer them. And these questions form your mountain!

From there, you just have to watch. Your mountain exists, drifting carelessly through space. You can’t affect it, it’s too big for human touch to matter. Space artifacts will drift and crash into your mountain, becoming part of it. When the time comes, your mountain is destroyed and you start over.

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9 Celestial – Mount Celestial


Title artwork for Celeste showing Madeline reaching for a strawberry with wings, while supporting characters float in the fog around her

There are many platform games out there, each trying to do something uniquely their own. But Celeste is something special; its platform is so strongly tied to its setting and themes. Like any good mountain adventure, your goal is to reach the top, using all of Madeleine’s platforming skills to your advantage.

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But of course she has to overcome her own inner demons, the things that are eating away at her. Madeleine already has all the skills to do it, she is only up to the challenge. She is capable, she just needs to realize it. So you keep climbing that mountain, and with every obstacle you overcome, maybe your confidence will grow with it.

8 Breath of the Wild – All Mountains


Breath Of The Wild, Link climbs a mountain (official art)

The Legend of Zelda has had famous mountains since its inception, from Death Mountain of Eldin to Tal Tal Mountain in Link’s Awakening. But when you suddenly open up all of Hyrule to explore, a single mountain doesn’t seem so impressive anymore. So Breath of the Wild has a lot of that.

If there’s one thing people love to do with mountains, it’s to climb them. Who knows why? Is it adrenaline, achievement or just a feeling of freedom? Either way, Breath of the Wild understands that. The mountains are tall and varied, and being able to climb each one makes you feel like anything is achievable.

7 A Short Hike – The Cell Tower


bird gliding on the wind over a valley

A short hike is a special little game. It’s contemporary in a way. Sure, you’re an anthropomorphic bird and everyone else is an animal too, but there’s a feel to the dialogue and the characters that feel so connected to the way we are now. And you have a simple trip: up the mountain to get cell service.

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A short hike wants you to take your time. Take in the sights, go fishing, shop and just slide. The game is centered on the mountain, with the camera rotating entirely around it, wherever you are. And it’s a climb, by any means. But it’s more about the journey than the destination.

6 Getting over it with Bennett Foddy – The Climb Itself


Get over it with Bennet Foddy - gameplay screenshot

There is a certain genre of games that became very popular a few years ago. The likes of QWOP, requiring simple but precise button presses to perform the most basic task, and messing up can mean losing all of your progress. Getting Over It is that, only much harder and much more punishing.

But adversity is the point. The creator constantly recounts the journey, explaining how he created the game, why it is so, and other anecdotes from life. They even seem to react to your wins and failures. But they keep talking and you keep climbing. You don’t even really know why. It’s a game on Why we cherish the climb.

5 God Of War – The Highest Peak In The Realm


God Of War PC is outsourced to the studio behind the Dark Souls port

Official Steam screenshot of the PC port of God Of War featuring Kratos and Atreus in battle

The God of War series has had a long history since its debut in 2005, with its second saga coming to an end soon. Starting off as a Devil May Cry-like game with a heavier emphasis on group combat, it has a lot of love for the mountains. You can’t make a Greek Mythology game without Mount Olympus.

And climbing Mount Olympus as you ravage the Greek Pantheon is not to be missed. But the 2018 entry has something special. It’s about the journey, about self-discovery in the face of adversity. And when you finally reach the top of the mountain with Atreus and see the land stretching out before you, you have a chance to reflect on how far you’ve come.

4 Pokemon – Mt Silver and Mt Coronet


A screenshot showing the player looking at Mount Coronet in Pokemon Legends: Arceus

Pokemon games have been iconic since the very beginning, this little Gameboy game will soon become the biggest media franchise in the world. Starting out in lands heavily inspired by regions of Japan, it has since expanded to encompass much of the world, so you can bet there are plenty of mountains.

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However, two particularly stand out. There’s Gen 2’s Mt Silver, the grand peak that looks down on the world as you face your greatest challenge. It’s the top of the world and where your journey ends. And there is Mount Coronet. It criss-crosses the Sinnoh region, crossing several areas, all ending at the ruins where you face Poke-god.

3 Skyrim – Throat of the World


Skyrim's Throat World

Games, and open-world games in particular, have always struggled to represent mountains. The mountains are monumental, and scaling them up in an open world would make them take up a lot of the map – it would be downright boring to climb. While Skyrim has plenty of mountains, the World Gorge is special.

It’s a necessary peak, it’s over 7,000 steps (there are far fewer in the game); a testament to its supposed scale. But more than anything, it’s as if you were meant to climb it. It dominates the whole game, even advancing towards you on the world map. This mountain looks like a region in its own right, a legendary house of world secrets.

2 Grand Theft Auto – Mount Chiliad


Screenshot of Mount Chiliad in Grand Theft Auto V, source of fake jetpack hoax

Grand Theft Auto games are usually seen up there with the big guys for city simulations, but they’ve always had a love for the natural world around them too. Much of that fascination showed up in GTA San Andreas, and it only went further in GTA 5. But the real showcase of that is Mount Chiliad.

Even through the fog of San Andreas, Mount Chiliad can be seen from above the city, and the fog that shrouds it as it rises makes it seem all the taller. But in GTA 5, the scale is really there. You can see the whole world, but it really takes up a significant portion of the map. Submerged in clouds and covered in hiking trails, it’s one of the closest things to a real mountain you’ll find.

1 Death Stranding – The Central Region


Death Stranding.  Sam walking in the grass with a huge mountain in the distance.

There’s a lot to be said for Death Stranding. Many expected a game that contained a lot more of its Metal Gear DNA in gameplay, but it mostly showed up in themes. However, one thing Death Stranding is not lacking is vision. Those mountains in the distance? You can go. In fact, you probably have to deliver something there.

People love to climb mountains and Death Stranding is a movement-oriented game. The land is all the attraction here, so of course the mountains take up massive sections of the map. And they are by no means easy. They are steep, steep and uneven. Running streams and freezing temperatures. They are a measure of your perseverance.

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About the Author

John C. Dent