Mundaun seems to be an enthralling, cottagecore expertise because it begins, however my Swiss journey was rudely interrupted by the servants of the satan. Now, I’m in a tunnel, speaking to a severed goat head, frantically listening for the thrill of these horrible, murderous bees.
Mundaun takes place within the Alps, and I play as protagonist Curdin. Each scene appears to be like prefer it’s been hand-drawn, however it’s hardly a picturesque sketch. Every pencil line is oppressive and heavy, like a shifting model of the outdated Scary Tales to Inform within the Darkish illustrations.
I’ve felt the necessity to stretch my legs and go someplace new and completely different. Fortunately for me, Mundaun glad my urge to reach in a distinct world. There’s nowhere really just like the little hand-drawn scenes of the titular village of Mundaun, which make me really feel just like the lead function in a basic horror movie.
The hand-drawn artwork is off-putting at first, however proves to be an efficient visible type. After I begin out, issues appear peaceable, and I may even cease to pet a goat, however I by no means fairly really feel snug on this quiet, claustrophobic village.
I’ve to return right here, nonetheless. My beloved grandfather is useless, as a result of a tragic barn hearth, and the native priest wrote a curt letter. The textual content is cagey, and the priest claims grandpa’s lengthy buried, so don’t fear about developing for a funeral. That’s sufficient to stir Curdin’s suspicions, and I return residence to search out out precisely what occurred.
Issues shortly change into surreal when Curdin encounters a portray of the barn hearth that pulls him into an alternate actuality, and I come nose to nose with the charred corpse of my very own grandfather. Issues shortly spin uncontrolled. After I confront the mendacity priest, he stands in a defaced chapel. Issues are clearly unsuitable, and the extra I dig into the thriller, the extra cursed issues change into. My solely allies are a blank-faced little lady, a veteran misplaced in despair, and (after all) the goats. Seems grandpa made a darkish deal way back, and the results are lastly manifesting in Mundaun.
Whereas a choosy participant can discover factors to ding off Mundaun, just like the often opaque puzzle or visible glitch, there isn’t a flaw so nice it overcomes the sport’s surroundings, artwork, and story. The horror style has been flooded with video games impressed by PT or taking cues from 5 Nights at Freddy’s, however Mundaun feels prefer it attracts its inspiration from films, folklore, and extra novel sources (suppose The Witch or The Lighthouse). The sport exhibits, and doesn’t inform. It’s good to spend time with a horror protagonist like Curdin who isn’t consistently chatting to himself.
Mundaun is, at its coronary heart, an journey recreation. I stroll round and speak to the uncommon few souls who stay within the little village. I accumulate objects and save them for puzzles. These clues begin off as mundane and easy — if I discover a key in grandpa’s home, I do know it’s going to unlock a door later — and later escalate till I’m choosing up severed physique elements and desperately stealing honey from deathtraps. There’s some fight, however it’s all clumsy, with Curdin utilizing an historic rifle or pitchfork to poke away at surreal beekeepers and screaming wicker males.
There are numerous nice little moments and scenes that make the sport compelling. At one level, early on, I method the priest’s chapel to search out that the home windows have been boarded up. If I peek on the proper angle by way of the gaps, I can see the priest standing inside, staring ahead. Afterward, Curdin has to pee, and simply because the stream finishes hitting the basin, there’s a loud growl and rumble. It’s an effective way to make the participant really feel susceptible.
The core gameplay and puzzles are simply … positive. They work, they’re useful, and so they set the scene to maintain the participant shifting ahead. However they’re only a automobile for the sport’s sense of fashion and well-told story. The spell breaks once I spend too lengthy touring from village to peak to cave. The sport can be darkish — not tonally, however visually. Though I cranked my display’s brightness to most, I nonetheless spent a couple of minutes spinning round in a darkish room looking for my approach.
Mundaun nonetheless delivers eight to 10 well-paced hours of slow-burning horror. There aren’t any limitless exposition dumps or scary monsters leaping into body. The story is simply fascinating, competently paced, and set on a plausible and delightful stage. Seems, that’s all a recreation must be play on a darkish weekend night time.
Mundaun is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Sequence X, and Home windows PC. The sport was reviewed on Home windows utilizing a obtain code offered by MWM Interactive. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media could earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of affiliate hyperlinks. You will discover further details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.