The first thing you notice when playing Mandagon is the soundtrack, a single 22 minute composition designed as a meditation, a sweeping transcendental score that sets the scene for a game which examines themes of introspection, exploration and sacrifice.
Set high above the clouds in a snow capped monastery, a representation of Bardo1 (the Tibetan word for in-between place or limbo), you play as a skull (that looks quite similar to a Kapala2) exploring your environment on a quest to discover why you’re there and the meaning of your existence. Along the way you will happen upon totems some of which provide fleeting, cryptic glimpses into your past life, others used as navigational aids allowing you to traverse sections of the world more easily.
As you progress through the game it becomes more and more clear that you have sacrificed something, but it’s also acknowledged that this sacrifice is not in vain. In fact a sense of acceptance is attained through the use of messages from the totems and the end-game sequence.
With a play time of around 30 to 45 minutes Mandagon is a short game, but nonetheless manages to realise a contemplative, immersive and indeed meditative experience.