Horror games have long ceased to be a small cult video game genre. P.T. has sparked a revival in the celebration of the subtle yet surreal, while in 4v1 games titles like Dead by Daylight pay homage to stalker and locksmith films. And survival horror, of course, shines when you add a hint of the unknown supernatural. Mundaun, of Hidden Fields and MWM Interactive, is not one of them. No, Mundown is more like 2016’s The Witch, a story whose hook is more in the story and plot than in the fantastical or creepy.
You play as Curdin, who arrives in Mundown after receiving a letter from the town priest stating that his grandfather died in a burning barn. The next bus takes you to your former family’s farm to pay your respects, but soon you find yourself embroiled in a mystery that becomes increasingly surreal: There is talk of devils, desecrated churches, tapestries, etc. They even added a goat to make up for it.
Let’s not kid ourselves: Mundaun is a walking simulation, or First Man Experience if that politically correct term still applies. How about a more adventurous title? You walk around and collect clues that lead you to the next one. There are a few action elements in the game, like hitting a straw with a fork or knocking over bees, but they serve more to make the story exciting than to increase the difficulty. Mundown is not a destination, it’s a journey.
The puzzles are quite simple. Basically, it’s just a matter of walking around until you find the key to open door X or turn on car Y. You have a book in which you collect all the clues that will help you on your way. Sometimes it can be difficult to spot elements by direction and design, so use the Press X index to alert you when you encounter one. Although the puzzles are simple, sometimes they are too easy. Just like looking in the mirror in the right direction long enough so that the world turns around you and you can move on. So simple that you are more likely to solve it by accident than by following a clue.
The most charming parts of Mundaun, and what I think really connects what the team wants to offer, is the art and sound. A work of art is a living, hand-drawn sketch. It does wonders for the setting and era as well as the presentation of the story. Mundown is an old, real community in Switzerland, and the game’s presentation builds on that beautifully. I wouldn’t say it’s beautiful in the traditional sense, I would say it has a wonderful charm and intimacy. Everything is dynamic and in motion, but as if it were straight out of some kind of screen.
The game makes a risky but rewarding choice by choosing Mundown, which is spoken in Roman, a lesser-known dialect spoken only in the Swiss Alps. Every thought and spoken word is conveyed to the player through the subtitles, but there is a sense of place. You enjoy the old story in equal parts with the new game. I can’t say if it’s great or not, but it does what most perfect soundtracks try to do, which is to pull you into its world.
If you want to blame Mundown for something that doesn’t exist, feel free to do so. Mundown can be a little, well, mundane. However, it’s a great way to kill a weekend by playing on the couch late at night, enjoying the stories and playing for about eight hours. Not all fairy tales have to be scary, some have to be chilling, like one of the scary stories Grandpa used to tell at bedtime. Mundown is Grandpa’s last story. You just have to snore occasionally to get through it.
|It’s not a traditional eye candy, but it exudes a charming beauty that confirms the setting.||98% exploration and simple puzzle solving, 2% overthrowing straw men. The gameplay is not the strongest point of this game, and it shows.|
|Being fully into Romanche is a risk, but it rewards the player. You really feel like you’re being told a fairy tale.||All negatives aside, this is an incredibly fun story if you like this kind of game. If you don’t, it won’t convince you otherwise.|
|Last block : 6.5|
Mundaun is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
Tested on PlayStation 4.
The copy of Mundown was provided by the publisher.
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