Derby, Oct 2017
With a gap between games, we rang Game Over’s doorbell on the off chance they had a slot free, and they were able to oblige with Montezuma, which they described as their hardest game.
The backstory involves following in the footsteps of your vanished archaeology professor, and while the game starts in an academic’s office I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that there may be something a little more temple-y involved at some point.
As you’d expect for a game rated with a high difficulty, there’s plenty to do. It felt to me like quite a traditional game, though I think that’s more in the decoration style than in the puzzle content. The former is nice enough, though it’s more well-themed than properly immersive – for example, with plastic faux-grass matting for the floor. The latter is an eclectic mixture of puzzles ranging from standard ones based on symbol matching or holding the right object in the right place, through to several much more inventive ideas and some fun physicality.
Some games are difficult because they have a lot of content, others because they have puzzles that are individually tricky to solve, and still others because the puzzles are a little tenuous and require small leaps of logic that few teams will get without nudges from the operator. Although I wouldn’t actually describe Montezuma as an unusually hard game, it does contain a couple of puzzles that fall into the last category. The most potentially painful of these was a big puzzle that struck me as open to more than one plausible interpretation (though the correct approach was at least as reasonable as any of the alternatives); more importantly, using the correct logic required a long sequence of actions with no feedback to indicate the players were on the right track, until completed.
Worse, the sensors there were a little temperamental, meaning it’d be possible to do the right thing without triggering puzzle completion, which would then make a team go back and try different, incorrect approaches. The operator was swift to give hints on this puzzle, so it looks like they’re good at steering players away from unnecessary frustration – it’d just be better if that weren’t necessary.
If you don’t mind being given a few nudges from the operator to keep you from getting too confused by puzzle ambiguity, then it’s a fun game that doesn’t really stand out from the crowd but which has no shortage of inventive ideas and fun moments.