The Mystery of Woolley Mountain
Developed By : Lightfoot Brothers
Published By : Huey Games
Category : Point-and-Click, Puzzle
Release : Apr 10, 2019
Over the years, I have found puzzle games, specifically the point-and-click ones, to be a very wide-spreading and inconsistent genre. Some games can go on for hours and hours, while others can burn out and be tackled in a short sitting. Some have puzzles which are simple and the solutions stare you in the face, and yet others make their things a little more complex. It’s that complexity which can be a good thing, or a horrible thing. Are the solutions so far out of left field that you need to ask the good people of the internet for the solution? Or can you naturally figure it out on your own? The Mystery of Woolley Mountain on the Nintendo Switch seeks to be a part of the complex side of the spectrum, and it’s Kickstarter was backed by one of the father’s of the genre : Ron Gilbert. It’s already off to a good start from the outside, so let’s see how it looks inside.
Our story follows a group of time-travelling scientists who, initially, are meaning to save one of their fellow members, VanDamme. While exploring an island for the entrance to Woolley Mountain, VanDamme ran afoul of an evil witch and her trolls who kidnap the scientist. Why? Because of the rest of his team is in possession of an item that could be very dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands, and she wants to be those wrong hands.
For the most part, you’ll spend a lot of your time playing the game as Garland, the leader of the time-travel group. There are scenes where you’ll be in control of VanDamme for a quick period of time, for the sake of learning what specifically is going on with him and the witch, such as witnessing that she has also kidnapped a group of children.
Everything you do in this game is going to revolve around puzzle solving. If you’re unfamiliar with the name I mentioned at the top, you might be more familiar with some of the products he’s created, such as Maniac Mansion, Thimbleweed Park, and The Cave, to name a few. If you’ve played any of these games, then you will be perfectly set up for how you’ll need to play this title. The puzzles are a bit on the complex side, with their solutions being pretty straight-forward. However, it’s the steps that you’ll need to take to reach some of those solutions which just might have you scratching your head a bit.
Depending on the kind of player you are in these games, things can either flow very nicely, or you might end up feeling stuck at points where you’re not really stuck. Woolley Mountain let’s you wander it’s areas freely. For instance, the first time you come under control of Garland, you are inside your ship which is stuck in a dock. You’ll need to round up all of your crew members to deliver them the news that VanDamme needs to be saved.
The best way to describe the game’s puzzles is that there is an order in which things need to be completed to essentially domino effect into ultimately completing your objectives. You might not encounter all of these steps in order though, which is why you may feel stuck when you’re really not. It’s natural to think that when you start in a specific room, the problems in the closest rooms are the ones that need to be solved first, but that isn’t exactly the case with this game.
To touch back a bit on what I had said above, if you have played any of the Ron Gilbert titles, you are all too aware at how…obscure some of the solutions can be in those games, and that’s just how things will be here, which is why I’d like to mention the two features of Woolley Mountain that ended up being my favorite things, but one of which is also my only complaint. First off, if you’re playing in handheld mode, this title is fully playable with touch screen controls. I’ve played a decent amount of games on the Switch which I felt were perfect to utilize touchscreen, but didn’t. So I was pleasantly excited when I tapped on the start screen of this one and it responded!
As for the other feature which I loved but not fully, you can press the R button and this will cause a pulse in the area to highlight everything that you can interact with. Whether it’s an item you can take and add to your inventory, something to look at or physically use, pressing this button will make it glow temporarily. The only issue I had with this was that it was a single pulse, and it was really fast. Holding the button didn’t continue the pulsing, or hold it steady. This is naturally the smallest of complaints, and it was an “issue” that didn’t last very long. It’s not like there are areas with thousands of objects you can interact with and you need to memorize them all.
The Mystery of Woolley Mountain is a really great title, and it does such an amazing job of paying homage to the classics of the genre. It’s kind of difficult to put a peg into how easy or difficult the game is, because it will very much vary from person to person. Either way, whether you pass through with ease or struggle from screen to screen, this title is absolutely worth it. The art style is full of colors that are always pleasant to look at and the original soundtrack is so good, it’s easy to just let the screen idle and enjoy the sounds. It’s no mystery that you should absolutely get over to the eShop and grab yourself a copy of this game.