Just to warn you, this review isn’t going to finish with a score. That’s because we didn’t finish the game, and we didn’t finish the game because we really, really don’t want to. Montague’s mount is an odd sort of game in that it doesn’t seem to really want you to play it. First of all, it’s incredibly bleak. Set on an island off the coast of Ireland, there’s a lot of rain and grey and darkness that pervades everything. There is a voice-over narrative that reads a fairly terrible script in a way that makes you think the actor probably didn’t think much of it himself. You explore this bleak, desolate island at a snail’s pace, walking slowly from area to area with no hope of a sprint or run button. This would be fine were it a linear experience but instead there’s loads of backtracking to be done to find tiny little hidden items strewn amongst the darkness and debris.
Gameplay wise it’s a three way cross between Dear Esther, Myst and those weird hidden object games you can get on touch devices. You move from area to area, sometimes you get a little bit of dreary voiceover, sometimes you get a brief cut-scenes that I think is designed to be frightening or sad (but they all come across as just plain strange and slightly awkward), sometimes you just get a new puzzle with which you can hit your head against. The first main puzzle involves lowering a bridge. To lower said bridge you need to find four wooden spinners that are hidden all over the game up to that point (including a corner hidden away from the place you first start), reconstruct a sundial and set it to the time that a broken clock shows, look through a telescope at a flashing buoy and decipher the flashes into morse code for letters that are the first letters from colours and then line up the four wooden spinners with those colours in a shed near the bridge. We’re not sure who designed the island as we didn’t finish the game, but that is a ridiculous mechanism to open a bridge. What if you needed the loo?
The next area isn’t any better, the puzzles are simply nonsensical, with an ‘unliftable beam’ of wood holding a gate shut on a beach, where you can see there’s two huge gaps either side of the gate anyone could squeeze though. But no the game wants you to do things in a certain way so you can’t do that. In the same area you get to see some boulders roll down the cliffs, all of which clip into each other.
Graphically the game looks very similar to Dear Esther but without any of the beauty. It just looks like the Source Engine with a grainy filter and most of the colours removed. There’s some fairly nice wind and rain effects that border on being atmospheric but the storms seem to come and go with such regularity they quickly lose their effect.
It’s a shame this game is so disappointing. The industry desperately needs more titles focused on something other than murder, but simply taking the murder and speed out of a game doesn’t necessarily make it interesting or ‘arty’. A game needs a hook, something to keep the player going and Montague’s Mount completely lacks that.
As we said before, we’re not going to give this one a score because we couldn’t finish it, it’s simply too bleak, dull and frustrating to carry on with. Simply put, avoid this game unless you’re a huge fan of Dear Esther and Myst and need something to tide you over after finishing all of those. Even then, don’t get your hopes up.