Montague’s Mount [Review]

A game riddled with bad puzzles, bad item searches, bad pacing, and bad horror.

Montague's Mount

Let’s start off my Montague’s Mount review with a little game, shall we? I want you to take your only set of house or car keys and give them to a friend. Now, I want your friend to drive out to some stretch of beach, preferably a few miles long, and just throw them somewhere out there. Anywhere at all is fine. Now, I want that same friend to toss a few hundred more keys onto the beach, specifically ones that look exactly like your keys so that you have to go all the way back to your house or car to try each key one by one. I also want your friend to break both of your legs. If you think you can enjoy doing this, then by all means, pick up Montague’s Mount.

Montague’s Mount is an exploration game in the vein of Dear Esther, but it tries to jazz the formula up by adding a couple of puzzles to the mix. It’s a good idea, in theory, but the puzzles in this game amount to an insane amount of plodding around looking for items you can barely see. It’s not even that many of these puzzles are difficult in any way, but the challenge comes from simply finding all of the pieces you need in order to complete them. The developers knew that the objects in the game were hard to make out, and have designed the game’s challenge around that fact. I’m not sure who thinks it’s a good time to pore over the same stretch of beach for two hours without even knowing what you’re actually looking for, but I was not that person.

Part of this issue comes from how dark and gray the game is. Now, for a horror game, the look is actually pretty cool. The dull colors and constant rain on the island make it feel very depressing, as if there is a constant weight on the player. There are some really nice shadow effects that got added in as well, and having these flickering shadows in all the dim light made for some great unintentional scares. I turned around in a room once, seeing what looked like a creature running past the doorway, and I jumped. This sort of thing happened frequently as I played, and it was a great effect.

Montague's Mount

The same lighting that obscures everything so that it can be vague and scary also makes it hard to see anything else. Important objects do light up to some extent when you hover your reticule over them, but your reticule is incredibly small even on a large screen, and you have to be looking straight at an object for it to work. For instance, I had to turn on a TV at one point, and to do so I had to wiggle the mouse back and forth until the pointer was right on the TV’s small power button. It’s extremely fussy about when it is or is not on an object, and important things don’t light up until it the reticule is placed perfectly on them. So, don’t expect to get any hints from a distance or in the shadows if something is important.

Those objects that do light up also don’t light up all that much. It’s a bit of a glimmer, certainly not enough unless you’re looking very closely at an object. So, don’t expect to have the good fortune to accidentally find something you need all that often. The entire time I played, I only found objects I needed when I was going over every single item in sight, and even then, that wasn’t enough. More often, I’d have to point my reticule into near-darkness, hoping that the item within would glow enough for me to know if I could pick it up or interact with it.

These problems result in it being pretty near impossible to find items unless you’re willing to look at every single deviation in pattern on the ground and walls. In one section, I was looking for chunks of a broken stone image, and they were the exact same brownish-white as the beach sands. I didn’t think the developers at PolyPusher Studios would be cruel enough to hide one in the sand because of that, but you best believe they did. You can find it in a section that you’ll be trapped inside for a little bit, so it’s only about a half-mile of beach you’ll have to comb over looking for something that looks like a slightly different rock. Also, I didn’t know how many of these pieces I needed to finish the puzzle at that point, so I didn’t even technically know it was missing. I just couldn’t get out of the area at the time and was desperate to find a switch or anything to let me move on. I guess you could say I did find it by accident, but I only did so because I was looking over EVERYTHING.

Montague's Mount

It also uses point-and-click logic, because of course it does. When I needed to turn an object by sticking something inside an open hole, naturally the round handle I already had wouldn’t work. Instead, I had to go find another item on the beach, a broken oar, to turn the crank. Do you know how many broken wooden objects I’d seen on that beach before that point? How many broken oars that hadn’t meant anything? This one was ever so slightly different, though, and apparently that should have been enough to tip me off about how important it was to pick it up. Except I walked over it a dozen times because the game never indicated it was important in any way.

And you know what happened when I got all the necessary items in that section? Nothing. I had hopped down a wooden plank to get there, but after going over every single inch of that beach and into the nearby cave twice, I just didn’t know what to do. I gave up in a rage, coming back the next day to find that a path had collapsed open. So, not only does the game push you too hard for the objects you need, sometimes the game doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to when you complete a puzzle or find all the items. That glitch alone cost me two hours of play time, and in a game that already seems to relish wasting my spare time, it was just too much to take.

That’s not the only glitch that causes problems. There are items that you can pick up again after you’ve used them to complete a puzzle, although you don’t need them again. You wouldn’t know that at the time, as why would you? The item is highlighted, and taking it doesn’t cause any problems. Must be what you’re supposed to do, right? Well, there’s no option to drop these extra items once you’ve picked them up, and they take up important places in your limited inventory. The only reason I found this out was because I had no room to pick up an item I needed to move on after picking up the crank from that delightful beach we’ve been talking so much about. I wondered if I was supposed to be able to do that as I hadn’t been able to before I reloaded my save, but I sure could now. I had to reload my save, again, in order to get back to the right spot with some free inventory space.

Montague's Mount

During that reload I got caught up on a wooden plank that had fallen on my path from the beach, and nothing I did could get me past it, so I was stuck. So, for the third time, something had glitched in that one section and made me reset. I don’t think I have ever hammered at the ESC key so hard in my life. If I thought I could have gotten out of the game faster by throwing my computer out the window, it would have been gone.

This might have all been tolerable, but the puzzles are still awful. In one particular puzzle I had to collect four parts (which were spread over a huge area, so missing even one meant long, long walks), then put them into these spaces in a house. Nothing too bad, but then I had to copy down Morse code that had been written on the wall and go look at a buoy through a distant telescope and copy down the colors indicated by the letters the flickering light was indicating. Since it was faster to just brute force the puzzle rather than fuss with stupid Morse code, I just flicked the limited colors on the parts around until I passed the puzzle.

Now, someone might like a challenge like that, but this is the one point where the game worries you won’t get it. This is when the developers put in notes that tell you explicitly what to do, turning the puzzle, which probably would have driven me crazy anyway, into busywork. The game came right out and said (though a note on a wall) that I had to use the light to figure out the Morse code. It read like a walkthrough, and not some handwritten note by a departed villager or anything like that. It was beyond heavy-handed, and made the game’s puzzles into a series of instructions, like a list of chores to do on a Saturday morning. The puzzles sure felt like work at this point.


The walking speed has been slightly altered since the preview to be a bit quicker, but not to the point where anything moves beyond a glacial pace. Many of the game’s issues might have been tolerable if I could have done them a bit quicker, but the main character moves so slow that it obliterated the last of my patience. Not only can you not find the items you need, but you have to walk extremely slowly while looking for them. Need to go back and check your puzzle instructions? Take the long, long walk back as if you’re trudging through a river. It takes big problems and gives them that one last tweak to make them completely enraging.

I thought I could at least enjoy the horror in the game, but it somehow managed to do a worse job than the demo. The demo only showed the evil being once, and when it did the view was a little vague and the camera was freaking out. In this one, the game stopped while showing me a very clear image of a little, angry-looking boy in a blue jacket. It then had him rush toward me, but the boy didn’t actually move – his sprite just kept reappearing closer. It looked like it had been animated by the guys behind those 60’s Marvel cartoons (the ones where they saved money on animation by just not animating some things, going so far as to just move the animation cell up and down during filming to simulate movement). It looked terrible, and was the final blow against the game.

Having a dark, dreary location filled with creepy shadows was a good start, but everything else about the game makes it boring at best and infuriating at worst. The slow, plodding gameplay and character movement makes pixel hunting for items even more awful than it already was, and the puzzles aren’t even puzzles – they’re to-do lists. The premise of the man lost on an island with no memory could have gone someplace interesting, as would all of the mysterious dead bodies lying around, but I could not muster the energy to care. Enjoy the music and lighting as best you can, because those are the only things of any redeemable value in this game.

If for some reason you still want Montague’s Mount, you can buy it on Gamersgate.

Joel Couture
Joel Couture
Joel Couture

MASH Veteran

A horror-obsessed gamer, Joel is still spending his days looking for something to scare himself as much as Fatal Frame. Even so, he has ridiculous action games and obscure gems to keep him happy in the meantime. A self-proclaimed aficionado of terrible retro games, he's always looking for a rotten game he hasn't played yet, and may be willing to exchange information for candy.

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