Moncage is an emotionally devastating game, but not because of the story it tries to tell. The game asks you to solve puzzles by connecting the violent and the mundane. At first I was charmed when I used a bicycle pedal to unlock a door. My stomach deflated when I used a trash can to shoot a real gun. Several puzzles later, I thought I was immune to the occasional cruelty. Then I used a campfire to wipe a nation off a map. Turns out I wasn’t.
This entire puzzle takes place in a three-dimensional cube. Each face shows you a different scene, and you can move the camera around the cube and zoom in and out on each. You “solve” puzzles by changing perspective to “connect” elements on one face to elements on another. For example, rotate the camera such made a striped hammock in the scene of a face blend into the lower half of a striped canopy in an adjacent face. This caused the Telescope resting on the hammock to fall from scene to scene, unlocking further interactions.
Mounting is a joy to play, and the puzzles are really good at making you feel smart. While the puzzles themselves aren’t overly complicated, they often require creative thinking to connect completely unrelated objects on a visual basis only. The game begins as a relaxing theoretical exercise. Its hint system ensures that playing the game is never stressful. Which is funny, because the questions he asks the player aren’t light-hearted at all.
By clearly juxtaposing improbable objects, the gameplay asks: What if a toy could break hearts? What if a battery was a bullet? What if a ship in a bottle was a warship carrying you to foreign shores? I felt satisfied with my own intelligence when I used a fake coin to stamp a piece of paper. Moments later, I realized that I had just authorized a military recruitment file for one of the main characters in the story.
Later, in one side of the cube, I saw a carnival. In another, I saw the smoldering remains of an unnamed war. Mounting slyly connects “game” and “violence” with a subtle grace you won’t find in more explicit war games. After a few hours of playing, I started getting suspicious of solving these puzzles. My intentions were playful, but I unblocked events in an ambiguous tragedy. As I manipulated the cube to piece together a photograph of a man and his estranged son, I thought, “I didn’t know. I never wanted all of this to happen. Maybe neither are the characters.
Aside from the empty levels and photographs you acquire as you play, the only other clues to what’s going on come from the names attached to the achievements. The blur seems intentional. The playful levels are filled with character and each puzzle is meticulously crafted. Mounting actively rebels against a linear reading of its history by arranging the photographs you collect out of order. Was the ending an alternate timeline? Was it a start? I still don’t know for sure. There’s only one correct way to solve each puzzle, but the story itself refuses to be read so easily.
I don’t know if the game gets any stronger for taking a kaleidoscopic, fragmented approach to portraying characters’ memories. Don’t let me discourage you from seeing for yourself, though. Mounting is still the most fascinating puzzle game I’ve come across this year.
Mounting came out last month, and it’s Available on To smoke, google playand the App store.