Mundaun Review – Nothing Mundane About It

    Title: Mundaun
    Developer: Hidden Fields
    Release Date: March 16, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: MWM Interactive
    Genre: Horror Adventure

Mundaun begins with you on a bus. You are presented with a beautiful vista of mountains, an ever-climbing road, and foggy weather. The scenery is void of colors. Black and white, extremely contrasted and saturated. Everything feels gritty.

You have a letter in hand, and in summary, it reads, “ Your grandfather has died, no need to visit.” Instead of heeding the letter’s advice, you have arrived in Mundaun. You exit the bus eager to find out what happened to your grandfather. However, you are greeted by a black bleating goat and what remains of your grandfather’s shed burned to the ground. Thus begins your adventure to unravel the details surrounding your grandfather’s death. Welcome to Mundaun.

Mundaun Is a first-person, hand-drawn, adventure-puzzle game from Hidden Fields Studios. Founded by and consisting of a one-person Illustrator and Programmer, Michael Zigler. Steeped in Swedish folklore, you’re able to record hints and moments of your travels in a journal as you explore the mountainous region. Dark and ominous, tense and riveting, this game is as beautiful as it is haunting.

There are no colors in this game, and the graphics themselves resemble some first-generation console designs. Upon further inspection, you realize there is some amazing detail here. The backgrounds blend as if smudged by a finger, and textures feel sharp and pixelated yet soft and smooth at the same time. Many times I forgot that the textures in the game are all hand-drawn.

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Players traverse and explore the mountain region looking to understand how their grandfather’s life ended. The actual speed of your character feels slow even with a run button, but this feels deliberate. There’s a lot to take in while exploring, as the hand-drawn graphics provided a unique sense of immersion.

The audio language is Rumantsch, one of Switzerland’s 4 national languages, which really sets the gameplay’s tone. The sound is sparse, eerie, and metallic. It’s almost rusty with sinister scratching violin strings, creaks, and melancholy tones that only add to the anxiety while playing.

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The gameplay can be a bit clunky at times, but there is nostalgia to it. It reminded me of older exploration games but offered new and inventive ways of presenting the story. There are vehicles in the game to help you traverse the landscape; though awkward at times, they are exciting to control and add varied gameplay to the mix. Your character can acquire upgrades throughout the game from items that increase health, allow faster travel, and improve weapon handling.

Some enemies linger about who cause damage through fear. Your character grunts and makes noises as he is slowly encased in that looks like quills or hay, similar to the enemies chasing him. Enough time spent amongst these enemies will cause you to perish and restart from the last save point.

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Mundaun is different. It tells you what to do and gives you tasks to advance but doesn’t hold your hand. The story itself is deep in rich Swiss history and often presents insane and interactive actions to advance the story.

There are some terrifying moments, jump scares, and prevailing loneliness encountered throughout the game. The character experiences visions and hallucinations that blur the line of reality. Additionally, several puzzles require item collecting and checking the journal to understand clues.

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Mundaun has the aesthetic of an illustration book. The general atmosphere reads like a 1930’s horror film amplified at the right times by creepy radio frequencies and pain-filled groans. Gameplay can be a little slow with item descriptions not completely understood, but the style and overall experience are unique.

I found myself marveling at the innovations this game presented, in sheer awe of the style and environment, and thoroughly impressed at the magnitude accomplished by this one-man studio. Mundaun is an interactive piece of artwork, rich in details, folklore, and mood. It is a must-play for fans of the horror genre and those looking for new experiences.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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