Recorded on Nintendo Switch (Handheld / Undocked)
Take our advice: if you ever receive a suspiciously detailed letter informing you of the death of a loved one and urging you not to return to your home village, trust us on this – just leave it as it is Recommended to you. Let them lie, we suppose, because going to a village has never done any good, as the recent horror games (and, let’s face it, real life) are evidence of it. It is quite understandable that we treated Mundaun’s opening correspondence, which informed his protagonist about the death of his grandfather, with some skepticism, which turned out to be justified.
See, Mundaun is a first-person horror game where you will investigate the suspicious death mentioned above and return to the title village to investigate what exactly is what we said! Said investigations consist of exploring objects, finding objects, solving puzzles and occasionally poking a pitchfork at a screeching humanoid hay bale. So the usual.
The controls are fine – inconspicuous ego controls that are exactly similar to those you’ve experienced a million times. This is not a criticism, they are just easy to get to grips with, so you will never feel a mechanical separation from the horrific happenings.
Recorded on Nintendo Switch (docked)
And they are terrible, because no sooner have you parked, switched off your extinguishing tape and entered Mundaun, are you drawn into a painting and experience the fire that supposedly killed your grandfather; a man who, in hindsight, may have made some bad decisions in his day. You bear the brunt of the old man’s mistakes in the form of monstrous beekeepers who shoot their pollinating pugilers at you. Great thing thanks graps.
And all you need in defense is the pitchfork mentioned earlier – which is compared to Caleb’s pitchfork blood – and a similar ineffective rifle that you’ll pick up later in the game. Thankfully, Mundaun’s struggle takes a back seat to an adventure game-like feel that is very effective at bringing the fear up.
There’s a commendable sense of variety in the flow of the major cards, and even with a meaty seven or eight hour time to complete, we never found things the same or uninteresting. Mundaun’s secret is well told and presented, and while there are some well-designed jumpscares out there, it’s mostly about feeding a sense of tangible fear. A good, non-spoiling example (and believe me, we’re not trying to spoil anything) is the mirror sequence you stumble into at the farmhouse. It’s one of the more disturbing set pieces – uncertainty pieces? – We remember seeing it a long time, simply because you know something is going on but you still have no idea what it is exactly.
Recorded on Nintendo Switch (Handheld / Undocked)
Although the fight is daunting (you can beat the game without actually fighting anything), there is still room for improvement in your health, marksmanship, and – oer – mental health. Your next goal is always clear and you can follow your clues through the in-game notebook. There are also optional lenses and hidden radio frequencies for the completist. It’s a full featured title, not the running simulator you might initially assume you have like we did. It’s neither a difficult game nor a “waste of your time” – there’s more to do than just travel on foot – and Mundaun obviously really wants you to end his story. If you have the small change to escape when things get difficult, you are very unlikely to die.
It hurts us to a point to bring out the graphics of the game. They are a strange, eerie kind of monochrome, sepia-colored and are reminiscent of pencil sketches that skillfully hint at the passage of time and mysterious secrets. In theory, this could be a flashy and formidable style, but the Switch – especially in the handheld – absolutely kills it in places. There’s a ton of ugly pop-ins, it’s often easy to turn around by the shimmery and same look of things, and we struggled to find key elements because they just blended into the landscape. It’s never enough to stop the fun of the game, but it’s definitely a sign against it.
The performance is okay, consistently constant 30 frames per second and the sound design is fabulous, with all dialogues in the little-spoken Romansh language. It’s a great way to make the player (well, the vast majority of players) feel like the underdog they have become.
Broken only by the visual representation of the Switch, Mundaun goes beyond its appearance and delivers a robust, constantly addicting adventure game. It’s not particularly scary, but it is full of atmosphere and offers a lot of variety of games and great ideas. We found that it never detracted from its tone or conflicted with gameplay bugs, even though, as mentioned, the graphics are not entirely up to date. It’s a minor matter, however, as mundaun should draw your attention from the beginning to one or more of its numerous endings.