Montague’s Mount Review (PC)
Martin J. Hutchison gives us a lesson on the horror genre, and tells us why Montague’s Mount fails to deliver.
There are three types of horror.
Type A: Good ol’ fashioned suspense. My personal favourite, this type of horror is more about what you don’t see than what you do. Flickering shadows on the wall, an eerie soundtrack, and an enemy or objective that you don’t fully understand are the ways to go with this type of horror.
Type B: ‘Jump scare’ horror. This is a more popular type of horror, and easier to achieve than type A, because all that’s required to scare the viewer/player is to lure them into a false sense of security. This is usually done by defusing what seemed like a tense situation, and then shattering their little safe-bubble with some brief, loud horror; it could be a zombie grabbing a person’s leg or a snake leaping out of a box. Simple to achieve, but when the moment is passed, the scare is gone.
Type C: ‘Gore/shock Horror’. It is the most frequently applied form of horror in other media. I say ‘horror’, type C is really just excess amounts of gore. Blood, violence, dismemberment and people screaming make type C the easiest version of Horror to accomplish. It is, however, the least effective at actually scaring you; only the squeamish get freaked out by type C.
Montague’s Mount from Polypusher Studios tries desperately to achieve Type A, the most difficult and rewarding form of horror and it fails spectacularly. The Irish island you find yourself on is a bland landscape indeed, and nothing about it draws you in. You wake up on a beach, no memory of who or where you are, and your first task is to find a walking stick; clearly, however you got here, you got injured along the way.
That’s the first, and easiest, puzzle in the game; find a walking stick. The puzzles get steadily harder and harder, with little to no guidance from the game as to how to progress. While I’m against the over simplification of modern games, going too far in the other direction can be equally frustrating, if not more so. There are tool tips and hints for the first little while, but when you progress past the prologue, you’re on your own.
Are you own your own, though? As you progress through the mysterious island, you start to see and hear things. Children, specifically. Everybody knows that children + video games = scary. That’s a tried and true formula, just ask F.E.A.R. or Bioshock. But it needs context. It seems that our hero, if he can be called that, is just losing his mind without rhyme or reason.
It’s unfortunate that the scenery is so unexciting, because you’ll be spending an awful lot of time looking at it. Considering your character’s injury, it makes sense that there is no option to sprint, crouch, crawl or jump. While it makes sense, it doesn’t help when there is a LOT of walking to be done in this game. You’ll spend far too long combing beaches, climbing hills and wandering through linear forests at a pace not even a sloth would envy.
There are some interesting ideas in Montague’s Mount, especially considering that Polypusher is a one-man studio, the ‘one man’ in question being Matt Clifton. I thought the minimalistic HUD was a step in the right direction to increase immersion, and the use of Gaelic throughout the game is, as far as I’m aware, completely unique. But the poor pacing, unnecessarily difficult puzzles and general lack of ‘oomph’ make this a title that’s easy to forget. There’s nothing here to keep players interested past the first few dull, irritating, hours.
2 Irish beaches out of 5Montague's Mount Review (PC),