Paradoxically, the exciting thing about horror video games is that you don’t know what type of game it is based on that label alone. Each horror game is its own terrible surprise. And as our review finds, Mundaun from developer Hidden Fields and publisher MWM Interactive carves out a particularly distinct space for itself on Nintendo Switch. It is a first-person horror adventure with puzzle elements set in open environments in the Alps, and all textures were drawn by hand in pencil, creating a natural grayscale world that feels like a fever dream. The sum result is something that horror and adventure gamers will almost certainly enjoy, despite just a few snags.
The creeping horror of Mundaun comes to Switch
The premise of Mundaun is that you have come to the titular location in the Alps to look into the death of your grandfather, who apparently died in a house fire. Unsurprisingly, it quickly becomes apparent that something sinister is going on. There are only a few other characters in the game, and they come and go at odd, almost impossible moments, really reinforcing the dream-like nature of the game.
As the game progresses, a strange variety of lethal enemies will emerge in the mountains, including straw men and evil flying beekeepers. At first, all you can do is run and hide from them, but later you get rudimentary means of fighting back. A rifle with limited ammo can put these creatures down if you’re willing to spare it. How and when enemies actually inflict damage on you isn’t always clear though, which provides more incentive to just retreat. You can adjust the frequency of enemies if you have trouble, but it was manageable on the default setting.
Otherwise, gameplay in Mundaun consists of exploring the environment, collecting assorted information and clues that you record in your notebook, and using items to unlock doors or solve basic puzzles. You always have one or more objectives in your notebook, and there’s often little figurative or literal direction on how to achieve them. Many times, you will solve objectives by just continuing through places you haven’t searched, but a few objectives are needlessly vague. It becomes frustrating when the game never offers additional hints for players who clearly need them (like me).
Mundaun in general doesn’t try overly hard to explain its mechanics. You have to figure out most things yourself, which meant I went the entire game without understanding how to make coffee and looked it up after I was finished. But in essence, the game provides different hidden collectibles that allow you to increase stats including health, rifle accuracy, and (this is what coffee is for) fear resistance. Health and accuracy are self-explanatory, but the fear mechanic is bizarre and annoying. Basically, when an enemy is nearby, you become afraid, which slows you down dramatically; you can’t just sprint away, even when a monster’s right behind you. It’s preposterous.
Depending on how skilled you are at adventure puzzle games, Mundaun can last between five and eight hours, and there are several optional, enjoyable secrets to discover along the way. There are also a few different endings based on a couple decisions you make near the end. The story is well-executed on the whole, with the characters’ gaunt faces and non-English voice acting really adding a terrific extra flavor to the otherworldly setting. The pencil-drawn visuals likewise create an inimitably eerie aesthetic, with my only complaint being that sometimes nighttime is truly too dark on the recommended lighting settings. Fortunately, acquiring a lantern a little later resolves most of that.
Ultimately, Mundaun is a creepy Switch game with creepy secrets to uncover across its creepy landscape, and it’s easy to recommend to fans of adventure and horror. Others who don’t typically play such games might just be bored to death with it though, especially if they get stuck on an objective they can’t figure out. So basically, if your gut tells you that you might enjoy this game, it’s probably right — and vice versa.
A review code for Mundaun was provided by the publisher.