Despite being one of the least-woke people in the history of mankind, old H.P. Lovecraft has been having something of a resurgence in popularity recently. The online tabletop RPG app Roll20 reports Call of Cthulhu as comfortably the second place online RPG (after Dungeons & Dragons, of course), Nicholas Cage roared and wurbled his way through a big-budget retelling of H.P.'s "The Color Out Of Space" last year, just before we all settled into our 'rona lockdowns. And there have been a trenchcoat pocketful of Lovecraftian PC games out recently as well, two of which I've reviewed for you already for Call of Cthulhu and The Sinking City. You're welcome!
So how come the mad H.P. love(craft)? Could it be because our media is now capable of depicting the kind of enormous cosmic horrors with something that perhaps does justice to the breathlessly hyperbolic descriptions of H.P. and chums? Could it just be that Lovecraft and Nicholas Cage go together as naturally as deep ones and tartare sauce? Or maybe it's just the threat of a global death plague that just has everyone considering the ultimate insignificance of the sum of all human endeavour.
Well, it's probably not that technology one. At least, not if 'Mountains of Madness' is anything to go by. Remember those Telltale Games adventures, that took ye olde pointe 'n' clicke format and updated it for the Millennials? Well this ain't that! This is as close to the look and feel of the old-school, Monkey-Island-era adventures of yesteryear as you can get, right down to the typefaces that wouldn't have looked out of place on your granddad's Commodore Amiga.
The plot is impenetrable Lovecraftian gibberish that somehow manages to make absolutely no sense while simultaneously presenting you with a series of immediate challenges that are pretty clear. You might know that you need to work out the sequence of elevators to get you to the top of the cavern, but you probably won't really be able to describe the events that brought you to the cavern in the first place. It might make more sense to those who have played the first game in the Chronicles of Innsmouth series, perhaps. Characters are voice acted - I would guess - by friends of the devs (or maybe the devs themselves) and there are scenes that are direct - if obscure - references to old-school point-n-clickers (I'm looking at you, Shadow of the Comet).
Graphically, the whole thing looks like it would run comfortably on hardware no more powerful than the screen on a modern fridge, but you can feel the genuine love that has gone into making it. There are endless references to the Cthulhu mythos and there are an adequate amount of tentacles and dusty libraries to pass the test. That said, I would have liked more actual encounters with the denizens of the mythos themselves rather than their human servitors, to really give it that proper Great Old One payout that I was hoping for. As it is, Mountains of Madness is fun as a casual diversion for Lovecraft lovers and Cthulhuphiles, and is nostalgia-adjacent for those of us who grew up around Guybrush Threepwood.
Would F'taghn Again.