It can take just one little thing to ruin an otherwise good game. Imagine a first-person narrative puzzle/adventure game that allows players to explore a mysterious island off the coast of Ireland. A romantic, exotic, mysterious locale filled with authentic Irish flavour and a heaping dose of danger. Now image that the character exploring this island moves at the speed of a drunken tortoise. That about sums up the experience behind the new indie game Montague’s Mount.
This game has a nice checklist of enticing features; it’s a story-driven exploration game viewed from the first-person perspective, just like the hot new game Gone Home and the classic Dear Esther. It’s also purportedly based on a true story, and it uses authentic Irish language as well. There are enough feature here to prick up the ears of indie gamers, but all of this potential is squashed by the fact that playable character moves around the island at an agonizingly slow pace.
It bills itself as a “psychological roller coaster ride through isolation, desolation and one man’s tortured mind” by which they mean the Player. After a few minutes of slowly creeping around this island, players will feel like they’re getting tortured, and will beg for a “Run” button.
It isn’t just the walking speed either, an early puzzle involves rotating a series of sundials to the correct position, and the dials rotate incredibly slowly as if to add an extra insult after forcing the player to walk all over the beach just to find the damned things in the first place.
But, aside from the thing that ruins the experience, it does show some potential.
The solemn Irish coastline is a new setting for gaming, taking players to an exotic location. It’s rendered in a gloomy color scheme that’s almost black and white with just a hint of color to highlight important items. The sound design has mournful foghorns groaning as players make they way slowly along the beach. Voice work by Derek Riddell is excellent, based on the short samples heard in the demo, and he should make a fine narrator to accompany the Player through this quest.
Although played like a FPS, Montague’s Mount has aspects of an adventure game. The demo has players solving a couple of tough puzzles, and hunting for items to open locks and activate machinery. If course all of this becomes extremely frustrating because of just how long it takes to walk from a locked gate to the place where the key is hidden, but the puzzles are still challenging.
This sort of first-person non-shooter has become quite popular since Dear Esther appeared, and fans of that game will find many similarities in Montague’s Mount. A confused protagonist who washes ashore on the beach and embarks on an adventure that the Player doesn’t fully understand? A very familiar beginning, but that’s not a problem because Dear Esther is a terrific source of inspiration for a new game.
There is just one crippling issue holding Montague’s Mount back, and that is the overall speed of the game. The code used for this preview is just a demo, but one must hope that a run button, and a general increase in speed is coming with final release. Montague’s Mount will be available for PC on most digital distributors, and there is currently a campaign to get it approved on Steam Greenlight.