Continuing on my urge to play some adventure games, I decided to purchase the indie title Montague’s Mount… with some hesitation. One of tags players gave it on Steam was “walking simulator,” which was one of the descriptions also given to Dear Esther. But since I was in the mood for a game where you wander around, exploring and solving obscure puzzles, I still gave it a shot.
In Montague’s Mount, you play as an unknown fisherman who washed up on the shores of a small, deserted island. During his explorations, he learns that the island was ravaged by an illness. And those who didn’t succumb to the disease chose to end their own lives. As he explores, he learns that he has ties to the island, & begins searching for his family.
Montague’s Mount is a first-person adventure game. As you explore the island paths, you’ll come across obstacles that prevent you from progressing further inland. And apparently these people had a lot of free time, because lock-&-keys simply wouldn’t suffice. Every obstacle has an elaborate puzzle you have to solve to get past. You do have a limited inventory, & can only carry five items at a time, but the only things you’ll pick up are things specifically meant for the puzzles. There are also hidden areas for you to discover.
Narrative: To be honest, I felt the story was a bit on the sparse side. It wasn’t that the story didn’t make any sense, because it did. It just seemed like it glossed over the interesting aspects while focusing more on things I didn’t care about. Based on the quotes that pop up randomly during the game, I suspect the game is trying to touch on themes of mental illness, but aside from the amnesia & the few hallucinations the PC has during his journey, we don’t really see that. As is typical of these type of games, you’ll slowly learn about the island’s backstory through journal pages you’ll find scattered about, but they’re order is all over the place. It’s hard to get a cohesive feel. It’s not until the very end that the game really suggests our character has lost his mind. And the illness isn’t really explained at all. Granted, this is supposed to be the first part of a two-part project. And the ending definitely suggests a follow-up that will focus more on learning about the illness. But overall it just felt like the game was trying to tell this deep, mysterious story but it just fell flat. Score: 2
Mechanics: I don’t know if it was because I’d been playing the game for so long because I wanted to finish it in one sitting, but near the end I was getting really frustrated with the puzzles. The first puzzle involving a beacon and deciphering Morris Code was pretty good. It took me a few tries, but I felt really accomplished when I solved it. But as the game progressed, I realized the puzzles were devolving into “Find X Number of Things to Put in the Machine to Unlock the Next Door.” I think it’s after the lighthouse puzzle, which was really annoying because you had to be precise, that I really started to get annoyed. It’s a shame, because it clearly showed potential to have a variety of good puzzles. But by the end, you’ll be scouring areas you’ve already been to looking for the last item you need. The game’s also very linear, although there are a few secret areas you can stumble upon. The path is obviously laid out. It could also stand to have a proper save system. The checkpoints are too far between near the end, especially if you have to quit to look for help on a puzzle like I did. Also, why can’t I run? So basically everything works, but the puzzles weren’t as good as they could’ve been. Score: 3
Aesthetics: Montague’s Mount does have some decent atmosphere, but I’m not sure it sticks around for the entire game. The island is dark & eerily decrepit. And the further in you go, the worse it gets. It also rains a lot in the game, which I’m not sure how I feel about. It’s creepy at first, but as the game progresses it starts to prey on your mind, making you more irritated. And maybe that’s the goal; to make you feel the frustration the people living there had to live with. The game comes with an optional film reel filter to make everything look scratchy, but unless you want to go blind I suggest turning it off. There’s only one voice actor in the game, but his voice fits perfectly with the setting. Score: 4
Replay Value: Low. Unless you’re an achievement hunter, there’s really no need to play through multiple times. Puzzles aren’t as much fun to solve the second time around, & the story just isn’t compeling enough to sit through again. Score: 2
Overall Score: 3
Final Word: I just can’t recommend Montague’s Mount to anyone unless they’ve enjoyed games like Dear Esther. It had potential, but falls short. Hopefully the developers will heed player’s critiques & improve on the next part.
Title: Montague’s Mount
Developer: PolyPusher Studios
Release Date: Nov. 19, 2013