Montague’s Mount review: Falling off the horse

Montague’s Mount is a first-person psychological thriller placing you in the brine-soaked shoes of an amnesiac sailor on an unidentified Irish island. It takes a lot of inspiration from similar horror/suspense games dripping with atmosphere like Amnesia or Dear Esther. Unfortunately, this game lacks the charm and style of those two games and had me wishing I was the amnesiac after just a short time playing.

Montague’s Mount begins with some thick and hammy narration from our protagonist as he wakes up among piles of flotsam and jetsam on the stormy and rainy shores of some forgotten Irish island. The locale’s rain and fog are meant to fill you with the same kind of dreariness and desperation as the protagonist. These two aspects are supposed to fill the game with the kind of atmosphere that made Dear Esther an award winner, but become the game’s biggest problems.

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Good luck finding “a handle” among this trash

The great failure of the game is its inability to simplify its puzzles. The convoluted steps required to solve even the earliest puzzles is often frustrating, and always leads to unnecessary actions that I doubt anyone would really need to take, and certainly don’t make sense for a tired, amnesiac sailor on an abandoned island to be doing.  This is puzzle-solving for the sake of puzzle-solving.

The primary method of interaction players have with the world is first person exploration and puzzle-solving, but the rain-soaked, de-saturated visuals and destroyed nature of the island make that downright infuriating. Every puzzle piece needed to progress is difficult to distinguish from the environment itself, and is even more frustrating to identify as being useful against the backdrop of driftwood and trash. Each item, even the useless ones, have a description and translation in the Irish language, making it even harder to find the specific items you need.

When you do finally find what you’re looking for, you’ll need to try and solve some of the most obtuse and nonsensical “puzzles” you’ve ever seen in a game. The first has you searching for a broken piece of a sundial that needs to be set to the time on a similarly broken clock you saw 10 minutes earlier, which will in turn unlock a looking glass that will let you monitor the blinks of the light of a buoy, to translate into morse code in order to find out which trash-hidden colored spinners you need to flip to specific colors, in hopes that they open a turnable pipe to close a bridge. Yeah, that convoluted string of events is one puzzle, the first puzzle.

These "colorful wooden spinners" became the bane of my existence

These “colorful wooden spinners” became the bane of my existence

Maybe that puzzle and all the awful, frequently game-breaking and unsolvable others that follow it would be worth solving if the rest of the game was interesting. The poorly-written, poorly-acted story does not make that a bet worth taking. To give you an example of how bad the writing can be, one of the protagonist’s monologues takes an absolute one-eighty of remarking that a lot had happened on this island, only to ask himself if he believed in God the next sentence. This was right after a ghost kid flew up in his face.

As mentioned above, Montague’s Mount is supposed to be a psychological horror/thriller. It tries, but ultimately fails, to accomplish this through such genre stalwarts as: randomly floating ghost child, disembodied laughter, and giant shaking rocks. Actually, that last one was probably just another of the numerous bugs I came across.

Montague’s Mount is supposedly based on a true story. I’m sure the experience of that man, trapped on an island, slowly losing his mind, was awful. Right now though, I think I’d take that over being trapped playing this game anymore.

This review is based on a copy of the game for Steam sent to SideQuesting by the developer.

Author: Ryan Franklin

Ryan Franklin is a Contributing Editor at SideQuesting. He's also Batman. (Really though, he's just Ryan).

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