An impressive effort by solo-creator Matt Clifton, funded by Indie-Go-Go, Montague’s Mount was described to me as a cross between Dear Ester and Myst. Since I like both these games and, in particular, would have liked some puzzles in the former I was excited about playing this game. I can see where the comparisons come from however if Dear Ester and Monague’s Mount were Twins, Montague’s Mount would be Danny DeVito.
In the initial, non-skippable cutscene the protagonist says ‘my clothes would suggest a life upon the seas.’ That, and the following motion-sickness-inducing jerky walking led me to conclude he was a Pirate with a peg leg. Perhaps this undermined the serious tone of the game, but I spent a long time looking for a stick in near-total darkness so making my own entertainment was a necessity. After acquiring the aforementioned stick your movement becomes more akin to an extremely slow hovercraft, nonetheless every bit of impassable terrain led to a cry of “Curse my peg leg!”
But in all seriousness Montague’s Mount is dark game, if only in the visual sense! I turned the gamma up to max if only to stop my eyes from bleeding and it was still dark! By default it also has a film grain making hidden objects even harder to see. Oh, and did I mention it’s mostly in black and white? It is possible to take ‘atmosphere’ too far. The benefit is that you can’t see the bad textures and clipping.
Your character has amnesia and is probably insane. The insanity is self evident when he decides to explore the island in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, with an injury and bad cough despite the fact there is perfectly serviceable shelter nearby. Furthermore it is assumed you’ve forgotten how to open a gate, as every time you click on one the game will helpfully suggest ‘You need to lift the latch.’
Puzzles consist of finding items and using them in the right way, and at first they are sensible, e.g. you need a lever to open something. There’s a mini-game to operate some items but this can be turned off in the settings. As the game goes it gets a little more ridiculous (or perhaps I just lost patience). The story’s reason for a sequence of impassable gates is to prevent the spread of plague, but I begun to question how long it would have taken to build the complex opening mechanisms and whether it would have been far too late by then (Judging by all the dead bodies, yes)! But the puzzles progress to ‘Find the 6 specifically pick-upable candles even though there are candles freaking everywhere.’ There’s also one which cannot be solved without the use of your compass. Didn’t know you had a compass? That’s not surprising because the game never mentions it, nor the fact it can be accessed by pressing ‘Q.’
The music is good as is the voice acting by Derek Riddell. I really felt connected the character because he kept saying “I f***ing hate this place” reflecting my feelings exactly! Sadly other sound effects are much lower quality and start to grate, particularly when you can’t work out what they are supposed to be.
Arriving at a new area elicits a cutscene, that slowly (very, very, slowly) lingers on the view. These are all unskippable. There are also cut scenes of a creepy ghost boy (the creepiness mainly due to his anatomy being way off) and occasionally your screen will completely fade to black so you can read the ‘Quote of the Day.’ These are also unskippable. Animations are also very slow, in fact it may take you a while to realise an object is actually moving! Compared to the speed of Montague’s Mount, Dear Ester moves at a breakneck pace!
I must admit I didn’t expect the ending. This could be because Montague’s Mount is actually a two-parter with the later half yet to be made, so you never actually reach Montague’s Mount! This is not made clear even on the official website, but could easily be cleared up by naming it ‘Montague’s Mount, part one.’
I would be surprised to see a part two and if there is one I shall not be buying it. Polypusher Studios were overly ambitious with this, their first game, and their reach exceeded their grasp. They created a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster with elements of Myst and Dear Ester but alas the ugliest parts.
Montague’s Mount boasts that it is “the first mainstream game to promote the irish language (Gaeilge)” and most objects are labelled with the items name in Gaeilge and a translation in English (or other supported language). This does suggest a secondary use of the game as a tool for learning the Gaeilge language. Oddly, however, whist it has language support for English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish and Russian, it does not offer language support for Gaeilge!
Montague’s Mount reaches a new level of gaming, the yardstick with which I will henceforth judge all other games, for Montague’s Mount is, you see, the worst game I have ever played. It makes me appreciate games which are merely mediocre.