This is a mystery that may go unsolved.
It’s blatantly clear from the get-go that The Mystery of Woolley Mountain is a game best played with a mouse. This point-and-click adventure title that has made its way to the Nintendo Switch is fairly charming and has an abundance of dialogue, but it’s hampered by the slow cursor and odd solutions to puzzles.
There’s a narrative here that compels the player forward. You control a character named Garland, a dapper scientist who leads several other scientists on a journey to save one of their own from a witch at Woolley Mountain. It’s a very light and charming story when introduced but quickly becomes bogged down by the “puzzles.” The Mystery of Woolley Mountain relies on a very niche gameplay mechanic: drag an item over every possible interactive element in a room until you luck out and are able to move on, only to repeat the process in another room. Some solutions are quite obvious, like putting ball bearings into a revolver, or using yarn, a tree branch, and a hook to make a fishing pole.
However, even in the first act of the story, I was stumped for over an hour trying to figure out what to do when I had gotten through some easy puzzles. It’s odd because the narrative is pushing a sense of urgency; you know what has happened to the missing scientist because the opening shows it. Garland is introduced and pushes the urgency to save his friend. However, all of that emphasis on urgency is brushed aside when spending a great portion of the gameplay wasting effort via trial and error. At any point, pressing R will have every interactive element on screen flicker, making it easier to get through the process of elimination when stumped on what to do, or just to assist with exploration in general. But sometimes not everything flickers, such as with the fish hook, which is very small and not immediately noticeable but pivotal to collect.
Unfortunately, another huge drawback is how slow the cursor moves on the screen. There are options to speed it up, but these pale in comparison to what a mouse has to offer. Thankfully, in handheld mode, this is rectified because touch controls are supported. All in all though, The Mystery of Woolley Mountain is meant for a really specific audience and doesn’t lend itself to being very approachable.
The Mystery of Woolley Mountain is also fully voice-acted. It’s not bad by any means, but I wouldn’t say the performances here are enthralling. They are very safe, admittedly cheesy, and feel aimed at young kids. All the voice work seems to create caricatures of the personas the characters are based on. The music is fine, fitting for the long time spent on looking for puzzle solutions, and it doesn’t get annoying.
This experience is not for me, and I suspect a lot of players will feel the same. There is a wealth of point-and-click adventures that share this similar approach of combining your items with others in your inventory and using them on interactive spots in the room. The Mystery of Woolley Mountain doesn’t do a very good job at this particular type of game, but it’s ultimately up to the player to determine if this title is for them.