I have been lead astray by a semi interesting trailer and cheap price on Steam. I mean, that can be the only reason I bought and blew 5 hours on Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel…A morbid title for an adventure game by Russian developers, Akella. The game, based (I’m sure loosely) on the mystery book by the same name (and is also a euro subtitled film) turns a literary murder mystery into a smelly frozen turd-storm of WTF. Sorry, there are no better words to describe this mess.
The opening title shows a picturesque scene of falling snow, white tipped mountains and tall trees. An old beater tries to make its way in the snow to a foreboding hotel called the Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, named after some mountaineer that died (go figure). The driver, Peter, is on vacation from his job as detective with the police. A friend had recommended the place so he decided to check it out. He meets the proprietor, Alec, an older gentleman who loves his hotel, even though there has been some strange occurrences that have been happening. Alec blames the occurrences on a “He”. Of course, Peter can’t leave well enough alone, and goes on a tear, questioning other guests, sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and going so far as breaking into other people’s rooms to find clues. Some weird guy shows up, someone ends up murdered, and someone confesses. If you think that wraps the game up nicely, think again.
You play as Peter, using a mouse and sometimes keyboard to direct him to where you want him to go around the hotel. The hotel itself is big – three floors, a basement and a garage – with plenty of room to explore. This, however, created some problems as you found yourself mindlessly going into rooms that had nothing in them to explore and for the most part, the rooms that did have items at best had one or two items. The clicker would change from arrow to a hand or a magnifier, indicating an action that needs to be taken. With a hotel this big, it was easy to get lost. The game had a map that you can access, but you had to find it on the lobby wall first (which I discovered by accident). Then, once you got it, all you were seeing on the map were rectangular blobs without labels. Needless to say, I didn’t find it terribly helpful.
There are some little mini-games you play as well, like hooking up faulty wiring, siphoning gas, and playing a round of pool to win a lady’s shawl. You can also dance at a party and drink your face off if you wanted to, which was really out of place for a character like Peter who tried to be upstanding and stoic…but then have him cut a rug or bed the attractive married lady guest? Strange.
The background graphics were probably the best thing about Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, but that is about it. The character graphics appeared creepy and moved stiffly. If two characters were moving to the same area in the hotel, they would often phase into each other in some odd glitch. The music was annoying, but thankfully, you could adjust the volume in the settings. The worst thing about this game’s mechanics has got to be the world-class cluster-eff voice-over work. The actors could barely read their lines enough to pass for anything remotely human. Their inflection and intonation, especially that of Alec, were horribly delivered and really detracted from the “seriousness” of the storyline. I swear I heard the script pages rustling in the background as the actors were trying to…de-liver. their…lines?
The game supposedly has 4 different endings depending on how you play the game, and all are as weird as the next. Flying Saucers! A one-armed man! A mysterious suitcase with a battery! Helicopters! Philosophical pondering! I only barely made it to the first ending and have no desire to pursue the others. The ending I got made no sense, almost to the point that I suspect they either panicked that their story was weaksauce and decided to plug in nonsense, OR used the ending to a different game here, thinking, “4:30 on a Friday afternoon…Hmm, close enough – no one will notice! Let’s render this mofo!”
Needless to say, Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel didn’t win any awards with me, and should never be played by ANYONE!
Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel