Mundaun is an (Unexpected) Indie Horror Masterpiece

Mundaun is an (Unexpected) Indie Horror Masterpiece

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This video is sponsored in part by ExpressVPN (distant singing and bleating) Every once in a while, I stumble across a game that positively takes me by surprise and turns my brain into a rapturous miasma of tantalizing thoughts and feelings, causing me to drop all my currently scheduled video projects because I have to share them! Mundaun was one of those games, that completely sucker-punched me with its unexpected brilliance in so many more ways than I had hoped or anticipated. I saw previews of it in production a good while ago, and solely on the premise of it being a narrative horror game set in a remote village in the beautiful alps of Switzerland, its unique lovingly hand- pencilled 3D art-style, and it being crafted by a tiny studio semi-local to the place it's set in, I immediately wishlisted it and then avoided any and all spoilers until release. When it came out, I approached it expecting something completely different from what it turned out to be. I went in assuming a supershort, narrative based walking-sim horror experience --and I'd have been fine with that. But turns out that I... deeply underestimated this game.
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When I finally played it, I was blown away by how *good* of an open-ended survival horror game Mundaun turned out to be, chock full of varied and interesting narrative twists and turns, clever game mechanics and systems that support the story to the fullest and a constant stream of perfectly paced, gradually introduced new concepts, challenges and ideas until the very end of its satisfying 7-10 hour runtime. Mundaun easily became my horror highlight of the past year, if not more. So if you love deeply immersive, culturally rich, lovingly crafted open-ended horror games, you should not miss out on this one. I’m not gonna spoil the whole game’s story in this video, but I will explore the first act pretty thoroughly, and go on to show and discuss many parts and aspects Mundaun has to offer, so the further you watch, the more it'll inadvertently take away from you discovering it unbiased. So at the risk of stifling my video's retention, I hereby encourage you to, should you reach a point where it... clicks with you? stop the video, snag it and experience it for yourself, and then come back. So without further ado... let's buckle up and take the chairlift up into the Uncanny Valley of Mundaun!
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(Monsters of the Week Intro Music) Alright, before we go on, a thank you to ExpressVPN for sponsoring the making of this video! I've been using VPNs since long before the recent decade's surge of popularity for geo-blocking services like Netflix and co. to shield my online activity from prying eyes like government, internet service providers and advertisers, and ExpressVPN had been on my radar for a good while. It is the top rated VPN by outlets like CNET, Techradar, The Verge and Huffpost and many others and sports a plethora of solid privacy features. ExpressVPN lets you choose from over 90 different server locations to reroute your internet traffic through, letting you mask your IP address, or spoof your location so you can watch region-restricted shows or sports. All of their servers use 256-bit encryption, and run exclusively on RAM, which means they can’t store logs of any user data, all data gets wiped with every reboot. And this is regularly audited by external third-parties. After putting it to the test extensively in the past months, I can honestly say, it's been a really good experience. The reliably fastest and most hassle-free VPN I've used so far. Easy, efficient and customizable application that runs natively on
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many different devices and OS's with connection, download speeds and even pings in online games that were reliably really fast and stable, and I've never encountered a single site or service locking me out behind Captchas once. Which actually really surprised me. Through this deal, ExpressVPN offers you an extra three months of ExpressVPN subscription if you follow expressvpn.com/RagnarRox to claim it, which comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. So give it a spin and try it out for yourself. This link, you’ll also find in the description of this video, by the way! Thanks a lot again, and now, I hope you enjoy the rest of the video! This video is sponsored in part by ExpressVPN (diesel bus engine) (sombre horn music) Have you ever noticed how the greatest horror games tend to start with... a letter? Often times a letter from or pertaining to a deceased loved one? In Mundaun, we take on the role of Curdin, a young man from the city who grew up with his grandfather in the eponymous Parish of Mundaun. He received a letter from the local priest informing him of the passing of his grandfather, Flurin. In the writing, it says that there’s no reason for him to come visit, but his intuition tells him that something about this letter is off,
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so he takes the bus up the alps to follow his uneasy premonitions. The first thing you’ll notice is that the protagonist is neither dubbed nor an english-speaking outsider for whom all the locals have to assume the lingua franca; All the characters in the game are native to the region and as such they speak the language of the area: Rumantsch. It's one of the official languages of Switzerland, spoken to date by around 40-odd thousand people predominantly in the Canton of "Graunbünden," and all the spoken dialogue in this game was written and recorded in Rumantsch. This narrative choice immediately evokes a personal and intimate air, making the protagonist feel firmly anchored in the setting. Yeah, for a game with such overtly surreal tones, it makes it feel authentic. Mundaun plays a lot with the dichotomy between familiarity and the uncanny; things regularly feel both close and wholesome and at the same time foreign and obscure, spliced into a grotesque harmony. The choice of language is one example for that, another is the striking and unique art-style that's one of the game's most prominently advertised hallmarks. The game’s creator Michel Ziegler developed an unmistakable visual look for Mundaun,
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where all in-game objects and UI elements are hand-pencilled. 3D objects are modeled and mapped and then textured by hand straight onto the UV-maps printed out on paper. - [Michelle Ziegler] ...on the 2D-image has a point (...) on the 3D-model. - [Ragnar] When we drive up the mountain road at the start of the game, this aesthetic immediately conjures a sense of wonder and awe. It feels different, strange and unusual, sometimes even... ugly? But in an aesthetically pleasing- -in a beautiful way. It's a contrast that feels like it shouldn't work, but it miraculously does, since it's rendered with the familiarity of a state-of-the-art 3D engine, making elegant and cautious use of modern shaders and post processing effects. It's gorgeous to see just how the grotesque, hand-pencilled mountain range protrudes from the world below, separated by a thick layer of smoothly animated clouds. It feels... uncanny, like something is not quite right; as if by crossing the threshold through the clouds we stepped into a another part of the world where things work in different ways. Where... - [Fireman] the owls are not what they seem.
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- [Ragnar] We take our first steps up a small path towards the charred remains of Flurin's barn. As we approach, a foreboding musical cue gives us an eerie premonition of evil lurking about, buuut that gets promptly interrupted by the first citizen of the village welcoming us with a curious bleat. (bleating) If you'd want to showcase the tonal duality of Mundaun, its perfect dance between horror, mystery, and wholesome slice of life tale in a single instant, this welcome encapsulates it perfectly and of course you can pet the goat! It... certainly makes a strong case for the game being one of the Greatest Of All Time. (bleating) But we didn’t come here to pet goats. We're here to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding our grandfather's demise. So we give the barn a brief inspection, and find out that most of it is completely buried under the rubble. Upon the foothill near the barn, we notice an easel; It appears that someone has been painting the barn. Is this, some kind of C.S.I. Mundaun style crime scene documentation? (sound of flames roaring) And... it's almost like we can still hear the flames roaring, or am I just imagining it? (flames roaring)
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We've.... been pulled into the painting by some inexplicable blood magic and find ourselves transported to the very moment the barn is burning to the ground. (deep, ominous ambiance, fire roaring intensely) And stepping right out of the flames, a mysterious man in black with a broad hat greets us as if he’s been expecting us. We have a short, reluctant conversation with the shady fella, which confirms that Curdin’s hunch was right: There was indeed something sus about our grandfather's death, something that the priest chose to hide. Before we leave, our new acquaintance gives us a questionable gift. (sudden burning sounds, painful groaning) We come to in the present, on the inside of the burned- down room that was previously shut off by rubble, and we’re greeted by the burned corpse of Grandpa himself, still left in the place he died. In his hand, he's clutching his beloved pipe which remained mysteriously uncharred. We find that with the mark the devil left us, we can will the walls that block our exit magically out of the way. Whoa. So, knowing that the town's priest has lied to us, we make our way to the rest of the village,
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follow the road sign and open the little gate that leads us down into the valley, taking a wonderfully scenic stroll down the slope and into the parish at the foot of Mount Mundaun. (serene, atmospheric music) We stroll past grandfather's old house (that we'll visit a bit later) and come across the various quaint spots and locations in the area, like the local coffee brewery, barns and hay fields, a tunnel leading up to the higher areas of the summit and several picturesque little foot-paths leading around the cliff where we can sit down and take a time-out on one of the multiple look-out spots across the open-ended regions of the game. Where we’ll just... take a breather... relax for a minute while drawing charming little maps of the place in our journal for later orientation. Mundaun features an almost exclusively skeuomorphic interface, meaning instead of abstract captions and UI menus, it conveys its information via actual haptic in-world objects: Our inventory is a real backpack that the player character carries on his back, and his journal is a palpable hand-written and drawn booklet that we can sift through like a real textbook.
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It feels super immersive and, we'll get to quite a few more of these examples over the course of the video. The beauty of this environment makes it easy to get sidetracked in this landscape. You sometimes just forget that it's rendered exclusively in sepia tones and textured in pencil-scribbles because of how prettily modeled it all is, boasting a loving amount of attention to detail that I completely forgot on my first foray that ah- -Yes, the cemetery -- grandpa's grave. Right. So, we make our way up to the chapel on the hill, but our attention is drawn to a ridge towering over it, where a little girl is standing with two goats. She tosses a paper plane our way, with...remarkable accuracy. (church bells chiming) Her intervention seems to make the day shift, moving the sun around the chapel so that the cross at the top of the tower casts a shadow at a spot near the cemetery. If this isn’t clear enough, we find that her paper plane contains a crude little drawing that clarifies it for us. So we follow the mysterious shadow marker and find that it's highlighting the secret hiding spot of father Jeremiah’s graveyard key. So we snag it and enter, and confirm what we already suspected:
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Flurin’s grave is empty as a drum. (church bells chiming) I think it’s time to confront the preacher. We make our way over to the chapel and step into its claustrophobic little altar room, its walls lavishly decorated with historic figures, and the moment we walk up to the altar the devil’s mark on our hand pulls us to our knees and we realize that we... (deep laughter, groaning) accidentally smuggled the devil himself into the chapel to take possession of the poor preacher before we can even speak to him. We come to from this demonic intervention, back in the present... real-world... whatever you wanna call it, collect ourselves and carry on with our initial plan: Calling the timid, confused priest out on our findings and suspicions at the barn and the cemetery. He's clearly evasive and doesn't tell us all he knows, but before he leaves, he hands us Flurin's baptism candle and asks us to take it to home, burn it on the windowsill when we stay overnight. For protection. Protection from... what? (eerie atmospheric pad)
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When we leave the church and find that, seemingly out of nowhere, night has fallen in the valley, and when we make our way over to grandpa's house– -something is not right. (uncanny howling) The road back home is stalked by eerie creatures made of animated hay that attack us on sight. When I played Mundaun for the first time, I approached it without knowing what kind of game to expect. So based on this being a small-development scope indie title with a unique art style and how the first segment until here was structured and.. felt, I was expecting the game would remain a spooky walking simulator start to finish. I had not anticipated any actual adversity in the form of enemies at all, so this already took me by surprise. And then finding out how well they were implemented made this quite the pleasant surprise. I’m also very glad that it didn’t go the Amnesia /Outlast indie horror route where player disempowerment is drawn exclusively from the complete absence of any means of fighting back. (door slamming) In Mundaun you’re not helpless, but you’re also not armed with an inappropriate arsenal of ludicrous firepower out of nowhere. (groaning, cartoony loud crashing, clanking)
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Fitting the scenario, we find a fragile hay fork that, serves as your only weapon for a large part of the game, and it quickly becomes clear that you won't rambo your way through the opponents. Every time you jab your pitchfork into an enemy, one of the prongs breaks off, meaning after three attacks, this thing is useless. And they don’t grow on trees. So far, I’ve only found two pitchforks across the whole game, which naturally makes them a last-resort option, urging you to carefully consider when and mostly when not to use them. Also when you attack those hay-men head-on, it turns out to be way too scary for Curdin. Whenever an eldritch adversary spots us, our protagonist's field of vision gets violently caged in by branches, obstructing our field of vision, and Curdin will start groaning in agony and hyperventilating in fear, our movement constricted until we eventually perish from a heart attack or something if we don’t get away fast enough. (fighting sounds, painful groaning) And despite giving you the means to take enemies down if you manage to sneak up on them, you simply don’t have the resources to clear the maps out like a Grisonian Sam Fisher. Mundaun really has the best of, uh, not just both, but many different worlds,
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and it knows when to take its time. It often gives you the freedom to let you experience vast areas and segments of the game without any opposition, and through its beautiful sceneries and wholesome slice-of-life-in-the-alps moments, it fulfills all the satisfactions of a great, scenic "walking simulator" horror experience. But then it regularly switches to moments of intense adversity. And through this carefully paced dynamic in engagement, it manages to establish the iconic survival- horror feeling of disempowerment. Being pitted against overwhelming odds, isolated, under-equipped and vulnerable without going the oftentimes cheap cop-out of stripping the player of any means of defense. And the way Mundaun implements fear as a gameplay element- -something a lot of games have attempted and often failed at over the years– -it works wonderfully here. It strongly disincentivizes offensive strategies, and feels genuinely unpleasant. Like, this is such a fantastic way of audiovisually portraying panic through gameplay systems. Fear can literally paralyze you and cause a sensation of actual physical pain in your body,
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pushing on your chest, constricting your breathing and hampering your ability to think and act rationally. (Or act at all) This is eerily close to how a real- life panic attack can manifest. So as effective as it is rendered here, it should also come with a trigger warning for anyone to whom this might feel severely upsetting. I'm just saying. It is good game design. It never says (mockingly) "Megaman, Megaman, fighting head-on is a BAD option, you should sneak against these foes and then use THESE tactics that we now show you in an onscreen prompt and then hit the blinking spots." It doesn't do that, but through clever level and enemy design and thoughtful placement of items and adversaries, avoidance logically becomes the most viable strategy. Like, if you're crafty, you *can* incinerate piles of hay which propagates the fire and sets enemies alight if they touch the flames. But that uses up matches, a finite resource, and since we have no idea how many of them we'll find or need later on, we regularly find ourselves in the agony of choice if we should make use of our limited supplies or rather avoid enemies as much as we can to save up for later. Remember the lighter fuel in the first Resident Evil?
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Same thing. (fire incinerating) The game leaves it up to you, and it's a perfect example of clearly telegraphing game design that, at the same time, doesn’t hold your hand. And while we're at it, what do we do in Resident Evil when we want to escape all the madness and get a time-out from all the carnage? That's right, we seek out a safe room: The all-time beloved chill-out space that makes you feel protected among the constant heart-palpitating mayhem. And let me tell you, if you love safe rooms, Mundaun takes this concept and puts it on steroids. So, we make our way back to grandpa's house to spend the night there, while we can still hear and see the scary Allraunen hay monsters roaming about outside. They luckily don't follow us in here. We're safe for now. But aside from managing our inventory and saving our progress at one of those beautiful old grandfather clocks, there is so much more to do here than in a common survival horror safe room. This really is a home. There are numerous safe spaces across the length of the game and this first one here is certainly the largest and most impressive of them- -a 3 story alpine hut with a lot to discover. Numerous paintings and framed photographs decorate the walls
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across the many rooms and when we inspect them closer, they literally draw us in. The field of view slowly narrows and acoustic ambiance softly fades in. (people marching in the snow, chatting) It's such a beautiful, immersive effect, used to great atmospheric efficiency. The same thing also happens to us if we stare into the bathroom mirror for too long, and it makes us feel like we're peering too deeply into our own soul. Some serious Silent Hill 3 Mirror Room level creepiness at work here. (ominous ambience getting more intense) (record scratch) Down in the kitchen, we can spend some time to rest and recover. Sit down at the dining table and enjoy a little bread meal and, hey, this even permanently increases our health. (Curding moaning contently, radio chatter in Rumantsch) And we find a cooking pot, and this is one of my favorite features of the game. When we fill it one up with water (there's no running water here, so we have to take a short hike outside and fetch it from a well) then add locally roasted coffee beans, burn a log in the oven, and then let it simmer for a hot minute- -we have brewed ourselves a nice, hot, black, cup of joe that will increase our resistance against fear when encountering monsters. (radio chatter in Rumantsch)
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- [Curdin] Bah.... bitter... - [Ragnar] You could argue that this is an atypically long- winding process for a simple power-up, and yeah, I guess some people might find that a bit arduous, but honestly, it is so perfectly in line with this duality of horror and wholesome that I didn’t just not mind it, I relished it. There is a reason why Resident Evil's save rooms are so iconic and beloved, and why the soothing music of those little safe spaces count so many millions of playbacks in near-endlessly looping ten hour versions on YouTube, because there's something innately satisfying about the relief of reaching a safe haven amidst grueling horror and the threat of death around you at all times. I also love how pretty much all the items we use in Mundaun make narrative sense? Like this story takes place over several days, so Curdin must eat and drink, logically, and what else would he have but a nice and hearty bread-meal and locally brewed coffee? It also might have to do with my love for hand- brewing coffee at home on a daily basis, but whenever I found a new box of Mundaun roast, I savored the recurring act of preparing a nice cup in a hideout.
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You don't do it so often that it becomes repetitive, but instead it turns into a soothing ritual that felt like a reward in and of itself. With the convenient bonus that increases your courage a notch. Games with character progression systems are abundant, and in many cases they have the tendency to break suspension of disbelief by feeling too tacked on, too gamey. I've recently noticed this when playing A Plague Tale: Innocence, which is a game that really does a lot to establish believable, atmospheric environments and characters and makes your interactions feel as organic and grounded in the world as possible. But then you take shelter at an old lady's house after escaping at a hair’s breadth from a violent mob out to kill you and your brother, one of the first things the crone says to you is something like "Oh by the way, I have a workbench right here, feel free to craft upgrades for your slingshot if you have enough material." It's like.... "Ah yes, thanks for reminding me that I'm playing a video game." It's fine, but Mundaun manges to make upgrades feel organic. All the items you find and interact with feel like an integral part of the world and make sense (not just when it comes to progression systems) and this is a much harder thing to pull off than most people might think.
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(eerie music) But eventually, we get to sleep, and when we wake up early next morning, the little girl from before, Flurina, is knocking on the window and beckoning us to meet her outside. We follow her to the well, where she leaves us another cryptic message folded into origami, and this one, similar to the barn-painting from before, directly takes us into a vision from the past, in which we witness the origin of the curse that has befallen Mundaun. Florin, our grandfather as a young man, together with a small band of soldiers, all locals of the valley– -including a young Father Jeremiah– -find themselves in a predicament back during the never-further-specified “war.” They faced an incoming invasion of a great army at sheer impossible odds of survival, when the man in the hat appeared to them in a puff of smoke and offered them a truly Faustian Bargain: Sign a contract with him and he will make the incoming army perish, saving the soldiers and the entire valley from being overrun and sacked- -at the price of sacrificing an unbaptized soul to him afterwards.
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We awaken from our vision in the chapel and find the head of a white goat on the altar. We take it with us and confront the preacher, under a hailstorm of black rocks, out at the cemetery where we find him praying for the soul of our grandfather. He begs us to take Alegria's, the goat's, head up the mountain to Corporal Walther, another one of the band of merry men from the war days, and find a way to break the curse brought about by the sins of the (Grand)fathers. So now we know what’s at stake: Our granddad had made a pact with the literal devil to save the valley, but somewhere, something had gone wrong. So, we have to make our way up the hill, and, to get his attention, deliver the Corporal some of his regularly requested supplies: Schnapps, honey and a big delivery of hay. Which means we need some wheels! So, we solve a little combination puzzle in the attic of grandpa's house to find the key, and then we buckle up to drive The Muvel! The Muvel is the wonderful hay wagon that is going to be our open world traversal vehicle from now on. We got a glimpse of it before in the photo of the protagonist as a kid driving around the Muvel with grandpa, and now we take the wheel and collect some hay before we make our way up the mountain.
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Mundaun is a game that establishes a wonderful feeling of familiarity, like we're experiencing nostalgia through someone else's eyes. Those memories of driving the hay wagon across the lush pastries of the alps with grandpa feel as if the maker of the game had lived these, or similar memories, himself, and passes them on by turning them into interactive art. Probably not the specific memories of fighting a curse by the antichrist himself, but hey, what do I know? Maybe that part is true as well. This is a game that makes you feel at home by proxy. And this is not just set-dressing, it also has a direct gameplay purpose. I already said how things like Save Rooms, Coffee Making or in this case the simple pleasure and nostalgia of a joyride in grandpa's Muvel add to a rich smorgasbord of positive feelings; fun, astonishment, safety, calmness, and excitement, discovery, and many more wholesome sensations in between bouts of tension, anxiety and horror. Great horror games rely on careful pacing. A game in which the player is constantly hounded, chased and rushed from one spook into the next jumpscare without ever letting up becomes exhausting really quickly.
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In order for tense moments to be effective and climactic, they require downtime to stand out, and that is something Mundaun provides in abundance with amazing, loving variety. Vast parts of the game are relaxing and peaceful, and do not pull the player through any adversity at all. They consist of varied and interesting explorative things to do so that downtime never gets boring. And that's where the game is truly brilliant because the things you do between the pacing peaks of terror aren’t just distractions from the scary moments, they serve to create fondness for the setting. So much so, that the bulk of things you hear from people praising the game won’t be the monsters or the combat, but the things between that, that make the setting worth fighting for. If you want to raise the stakes in a horror tale, you have to make me care, and as you can hear from my continuous gushing, Mundaun succeeds admirably at that task. Which has the effect that *once* things get intense, they have weight, purpose and are actually creepy and intimidating, without having to pull that off by being punishingly difficult. The game offers difficulty sliders though, for those who want a little bit more of a gameplay challenge.
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This part that I just took you through is what I consider the first of four acts over which the story plays out. The bulk of the mechanics are set up and introduced, our goal and motivation is established and the story is kicking into gear. We’re making our way up the mountain across a range of different landscapes and set-pieces as we follow in the footsteps of the forefather’s Faustian pact gone awry, which is haunting Mundaun to this day. And I’m not going to explore every story beat of the game in the same granular detail as I did for the first chapter. This game still has a great amount of twists and turns in store that I want you to explore for yourself. Instead, I’m going to keep on gushing through the rest of my list of observations on things that... stood out to me. One thing that kept impressing me is how effective the game is at making orientation and exploration feel organic and rewarding in an open world without relying on an interactive map or any kind of objective or map markers. Some of the areas are -well, they're not vast, but surprisingly expansive for such a rather small indie horror game, but because every hill and valley, every lake and cliff is unique and lovingly hand-crafted.
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The game bursts with instantly recognizable landmarks, so intuitively designed that I've not once lost orientation in the serpentine-like mountainscapes. This goes perfectly in line with the game highly encouraging the player to explore every nook and cranny. Not because you fill up non-diegetic progress bars for an extrinsic Skinnerian pat on the shoulder, but because it makes excellent use of what game designers call negative possibility space: Look in every corner and under every rock and you regularly get rewarded with finding an item or two that always feel good to stock up your supplies with or, often enough, with other little rewards for your curiosity. Like a playable memory of a sleigh race with Flurina, that serves both as a fun little mini game, as well as as an optional tutorial for later sections in which you escape the claws of the viciously stomping, horned yeti-creature and an army of resurrected soldiers from the war-days, while on the back of a sleigh riding down the snowy mountain range. And as we make our way across multiple areas of the mountain, we always have our overarching goal in our view: to reach the snowless back twin peaks of the summit of Mount Mundaun
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that always beckon us from the distance, serving both as an ominous, foreboding omen, as well as a perfect fix point to orient by. Mundaun also surprised me with its scope. Several times during my first playthrough, I had anticipated that I was right around the finale, when the game pulled yet another twist on me, opened up another big area with lots of things to do that I hadn’t foreseen or some other shenanigans. This game had so much more to offer than I anticipated and always in an enticing and exciting way. A sensation that I’ve regularly experienced in recent years in massive 60+ hour AAA open world games is a feeling that the story it wants to tell could easily be conveyed in like 10-15 hours tops, but you’re required to slog through multiple days -literal days of padding to get there until I hear myself groaning "when does it ennnnd??" even in games that I generally really enjoy. Modern open world games are often designed this way so they can boast their excessive playtime as a sales point. Mundaun is the complete antithesis of this. As I’ve said many times in this video, we engage in so many different things across the length of the game.
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We steal honey from ghostly bee keepers that set swarms of angry bees on us once they spot us (basically they're the texas bee works lady if you *really* piss her off) - [Erika Thompson] since there were quite a few clusters of bees hanging from the floor of the shed I just kept scooping. and handful after handful, they kept going right into the hive since they wanted to bee with their queen and their colony - [Rangar ]or witness lost ghost soldiers wandering across a mountain lake, - we experience lucid, surreal dreams (reverberating scream, devil laughter) - we follow a trail of memory apparitions through the haunted maze of old, abandoned wartime bunker- tunnels with our lantern - we have conversations with the animate goat head in our backpack – and give her some water when she’s thirsty - we deliver toilet paper to a poor guy stuck on the outhouse without it - we solve survival horror typical age- worn mechanical contraption puzzles - and have firefights with resurrected soldiers with grandfather’s loud old wartime rifle (gunshot) and so much more that I’m not gonna brush on here. (loud, reverberating gunshots) And in between, we just indulge in laid back activities like
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racing Flurina down the snowy hills on a sleigh, drink coffee, smoke a pipe, have a bread lunch, drive the Muvel or ride the chairlift up the idyllic summit. And all those things we do on our quest to correct the past mistakes of Grandfather Flurin and his band of Sun Soldiers has a place in this adventure. And yeah, you heard right. You will eventually get a hold of an actual firearm, not just a hay fork, as a weapon, and that’s something that really baffled me, by how late in the game it gives you access to grandpa’s old service rifle. It easily takes until the last 4th of the game until you get the possibility of acquiring it from your grandfather’s attic. And for a feature that’s implemented so late in the game, I was surprised by how good the handling of the gun and the gameplay surrounding it felt. You get an achievement called “This is heavier than I thought” when you obtain it and that perfectly summarizes how it feels to use it in the game. (loud gunshot) You can sense from the animations how heavy and clunky it is, aiming takes a long time, shooting it feels hefty, you can almost feel the buttstock bruising your shoulder with a beautifully loud echo reverberating through the mountainscapes.
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(loud, reverberating gunshot) Reloading the gun is even more cumbersome: You have to open your backpack to grab the bullets you’re carrying with you, manually. It feels like someone wielding a rifle who’s seen in movies how to pull a trigger but who has never actually wielded a heavy firearm like this before, himself. So when you’re having gunfights with those soldiers near the end, the tension doesn’t come from frenetic 360 noscope Battlefield action, but from the arduous seconds of buildup after both opponents shot a round in each other’s direction and then finding themselves in an agonizing stalemate of the arduous reloading process of those ancient boomsticks. The anticipation of who’s the first to fire the next shot makes these encounters tense and nerve-wracking, in a patient, grueling way. ('nother gunshot) But yeah, the fact that this really enjoyable, well- executed gameplay element gets introduced so late while teasing the players throughout the game with things to find like bullets or rifle instruction manuals; it’s super indicative for what I've been trying to get across: That Mundaun has so many different, well-executed things to offer that fit setting and story like
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a glove, while having the guts to hold them back for far longer than most games would dare. But the fact that you don’t get access to the rifle until the last 4th maybe of the game is also a great microcosm for what a perfect survival horror pacing curve this game has. You start out weak, ignorant of the perils that await you, completely under-equipped and disempowered, which enforces an intuitively evasive, careful approach without force-feeding it. Over time, through careful micromanagement of equipment and resources, gradually increasing knowledge and experience with your surroundings and enemies, you become more and more adept in handling what the game throws at you. Until sometime towards the final act, you emerge battle-hardened and comparably well equipped, and the game ultimately rewards you for your persistence with at least something of a power fantasy. (boom) Effort justification. Mundaun pulls this dance off gracefully. When I made my way down to the final act, I just about had it all: Memorable setting and characters, beautiful sceneries, engagingly spooky stealth and combat gameplay, puzzles, riddles, micromanagement, wholesome moments, eerie encounters,
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plot twists, multiple open ended varied and immersively designed levels, and a story that ended up far more captivating and clever than I'd have expected, including a number of surprisingly tricky moral dilemmas in which we have to carefully consider our choices. (waterfall roaring) It’s been a while since a game exceeded the expectations with which I approached it by such a monumental margin. And that made me think– am I maybe so joyfully excited and passionate about it because of this... positive discrepancy in what I expected? And I’ve come to the conclusion that no; it ultimately really is that this game is fantastic and that I’d have just as good a time with it if I’d have approached it expecting it to be as good as it turned out to be. This was one of those games that I could feel turning into an instant classic while playing it. (🎵 Edvard Artemiev: Bach (The Earth) 🎵) Mundaun is, as I've tried to convince you over the duration of this video, a beautifully crafted, atmospheric and highly engaging horror game. It is inventive, creative, surprisingly well balanced and polished,
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for a tiny-studio, and it tells an intriguing, compact, original story. It’s scope is just about perfect (for my personal taste), with enough cleverly paced variety that it never gets dull, repetitive or boring. What truly elevates it to a model example of video games as meaningful art is that it's a lot more than just a good game. It is a uniquely faceted portrait of a rich culture which is starkly underrepresented in video games, and international media in general, that paints the peculiarities and intricacies of the mountainous alps and its people with a loving intimacy and familiarity that can only come from the hand of someone who draws from personal memory and experience. And it conveys this not in a picture book, history tome, or novel, but through a video game. It exposes and thereby initiates a new and unfamiliar udience to its indigenous legends and folktales, not by displaying exhibitions in a museum, but by delivering a surprisingly engaging, open-ended horror video game that’s so well-crafted that it can easily lock horns with the horror greats of old. I didn't just read about the myth of the Allraun or the Zaubermeister in some fairy tale textbook,
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I was there and I met them face to face. I got hunted and frightened by them, ran away from them, observed them, and eventually found my courage to fight them head-on and... lived to tell the tale! I brewed the local roastery's coffee in Grampa's kitchen, ate Znüni while listening to the local radio broadcast. (munching, radio chatter in Rumantsch) I took in the majestic views on the many lookout benches, sleighed down the snowy slopes and drove the Muvel myself to collected hay for the goats, and these moments are now forever ingrained in me as fond memories for the ages. To look back on with a content smile. (alpine singing in radio broadcast) When I reached the end of the game and was prompted to return to the bus station to leave the Mundaun valley for good, I... took my time. I didn't once push the sprint button; but I strolled serenely. I took in all the sights and vistas... one last time. I gave the goats a good, long farewell-petting and I even found myself going through Grandpas Almhütte,
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turning all the lights off and shutting the windows and doors before my departure. Not because it was some secret objective, but because the place felt like home to me. Maybe not my own home, but like somebody's home. And for the duration of my sojourn, I felt welcomed and safe there. It was the definition of a bittersweet goodbye. Folklore is the oral and written preservation of cultural identity and memory through the ages. But there is no law that prevents modern media like video games from becoming vessels for folklore as well. Mundaun is a work of art that will serve as a beacon to many people's curiosity for the beautiful sceneries, the culture, the language, the many myths (... and the goats) of the Swiss alps who might have never discovered them otherwise. It is... modern folklore that proves the transcendent creative power of the medium of video games. People will... remember this game. Hey, thank you so much for watching! If this video convinced you to make a cozy, spooky trip to the Alps, Mundaun is, at the time of release of this video, available for PC on Steam, Epic Store and GOG, as well as for the PS4, PS5,
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and the XBox One, Series S as well as Series X in their respective online storefronts and a release for the Nintendo Switch is coming soon! You’ll find the links in the description! For anyone who discovered me through this video, hey, I'm Ragnar and on this channel I cover old games, horror games, indie games or combinations thereof and try bringing attention to titles that have fallen into obscurity as well as outstanding indie gems such as Mundaun that I want people to not miss out on! Making these videos and the financial support of everyone who partakes in making them is in big parts crowdfunded. So If you’d like to help us shed light on more forgotten and overlooked gems in the future, then it’d be a great help if you considered dropping a buck or two over on my Patreon. It gets you access to High Quality Vimeo versions of my videos (because YouTube’s monster-compression crunches everything to death no matter what you do) one to several days early, as well as the chance to leave your mark in the credits of my videos. The generous help of patrons makes a tremendous difference, it is the de-facto financial backbone of this channel. So thank you for considering and thank you to everyone who supports me there! And a special thanks this time goes out to: Support the Channel: www.patreon.com/RagnarRoxShow
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Until next time... ta ta!

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