Reviews - Updated on April 4, 2022

Indie games are sometimes compared to art-house films – they are also made by a small group of enthusiasts who want to realize their unusual ideas on a limited budget. However, for some, the word “arthouse” is associated primarily with a strange movie – one that is not immediately clear, full of symbolism and hidden meanings, which is difficult to recommend to the average viewer. In the gaming industry, there are noticeably fewer such examples, but Mundaun fits this description perfectly.

My own developer

This is another game that was almost entirely made by one person (except for the sound), and the author’s handwriting is clearly visible here. All of the textures in Mundaun were hand-drawn with pencils on paper, resulting in a unique visual style. This is not a game whose color palette was repainted in black and white – it was originally conceived that way.Mundaun game review

There are beautiful views here too.

This alone makes the atmosphere unusual, but there are a couple more interesting solutions here. In Mundaun, only one voice option is available – in Romansh. It is spoken by only a few tens of thousands of people worldwide, and almost all of them live in the same area in Switzerland. In the UNESCO Red Book of Languages, Romansh is on the list of languages ​​that are on the verge of extinction. And the fact that the characters in the game speak a real, but almost unknown language makes the adventure even more atmospheric.

Well, the Moondown location itself is also not invented – this is the name of the mountain in one of the resort regions of Switzerland, where the ski area is located. The developer knows these places very well and tried to transfer some elements from reality to the game – there is a similar architecture of low buildings, a chapel with images of saints on the walls and ceiling, lifts leading to the top of the mountain. An entertaining video was shot about the process of creating the game and sources of inspiration – it is interesting to watch it both before and after passing.

Creepy but enveloping world

Mundaun is a horror, and it scares not with screamers (although, unfortunately, there is one), but with an unusual atmosphere. This word is repeated in the text too often, but this is the main thing on which everything rests. The game is both creepy and interesting at the same time what awaits you around the next corner. I would like to see what location is next, what is inside the next house, what paintings hang on the walls there and what notes someone left. It can be uncomfortable here, even when nothing seems to be happening – just the creaking of the floorboards or the breeze of the wind makes you a little nervous.Mundaun game review

If only he didn’t turn…

At the same time, the plot also holds the screen. It is precisely because of the history that Mundaun seems to be a real arthouse. The plot is quite simple: the grandson arrives at the place of death of his grandfather, who seems to have died during a fire in the barn, but the hero quickly begins to understand that something is wrong here. The local holy father suspiciously withdraws from the conversation, the circumstances of death are unusual, and it is not possible to say goodbye to a relative – a hole was simply dug in the cemetery, but there is no coffin. All the fun begins next, when you can’t wait to find out what else was in the developer’s head and what absurd ideas he brought to life.

The story remains mundane, but the situations the protagonist finds himself in (and the characters he interacts with) are nothing short of strange. The plot is very captivating and does not disappoint, between it and the atmosphere of the game there is such a close connection that you are amazed. Until the finale (and there are two endings), Mundaun does not fizzle out for all six hours.

Mundaun game review

I don’t want to go, but I have to.

There is safety in numbers

But the gameplay may have questions. Nothing new Mundaun offers, combining elements that we have seen in many similar games. There is an inventory where the found items are added, and you can use them in certain situations. There are monsters that appear mainly at night – their design is based on obscure Swiss folklore. But if in many horror films the character is helpless and forced to hide in closets, then here you can fight back the monsters – stab them with pitchforks, run over by car, or even shoot them when you get a rifle.

All of this works crookedly. The combat system seems to be deliberately badly done so that you don’t want to enter into conflicts with anyone (for passing without killing, they even give an “achievement”). Some collectibles improve performance – for example, after finding instructions for using a rifle, the scope will shake less (but this does not help much). It is worth noting that there are practically no situations in which you need to defeat someone – there is a chance to either let the monster go ahead, or run past. The hero can be paralyzed by fear for a second, but this rarely leads to death, especially if you have improved the corresponding parameters.

But they don’t allow reanimated straw effigies to be set on fire.

One of the main problems of the game is not always the correct reaction to attempts to interact with the subject. You can point the sight at the object, and nothing will happen – you need to move away or look from a slightly different angle, and then everything will work out. This is especially annoying when you try to open one of the two drawers in the chest of drawers or one window, next to which there are two more – even if you look at the desired object and press the button, you will not always achieve the desired result.

In addition, in a couple of moments the game gives not very clear instructions, forcing you to wander around the location in an attempt to move on. More often, everything is very clear – the next task is written in the diary, and sometimes clues appear on the way, like black and white figures indicating the right path. But sometimes there is nothing like that, and the locations here are large – three regions connected to each other by tunnels. And the character does not move too fast (especially in the snow, if you do not find snowshoes). On the other hand, these walks help to stumble upon secrets – small buildings where you can brew coffee to increase your health, or hidden keys that surprisingly fit most lock caches.

Mundaun game review

The characters are not drawn and animated in the best way, but they fit perfectly into the environment.

In general, the game works – you can’t say that the gameplay here is bad, it’s just that sometimes you have to forgive something. Yes, the inventory is not the most convenient, and it is not always clear what you just took. Yes, there were some game conventions – when you pick up a box of matches, in fact, it symbolizes only one match and disappears after use. Yes, some elements, like the ability to set fire to hay, are not needed at all. But when you understand how everything works here (and it happens pretty quickly) and agree with all the rules, you pay less and less attention to these shortcomings.

***

Mundaun is one of those games that you have a lot of fun playing, but you don’t know if you can recommend it to everyone. Of course, this is in many ways a unique project – you will not find such an atmosphere and manner of narration during the day with fire. Not everything here is perfect, but over time you close your eyes to the shortcomings to see what surprises this amazing combination of non-standard ideas and template gameplay elements will bring. As a result, you do not regret the time spent and rejoice that you did not leave such a pearl unattended.

Pros: unusual visual style, thanks to which a unique atmosphere is achieved; intriguing plot; locations are interesting to explore; excellent sound design.

Cons: curvature of some gameplay elements; in a couple of scenes, you can get stuck, not knowing what to do next.

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