Review: Munin

And here we are with yet another look at the indie platformer, which you could call a comeback of the genre if it had ever left. No, the puzzling pastime between AAA releases has always been there, like that weird kid at a party whose only evidence of attendance lies standing awkwardly in the background of your group selfies.

If Munin were one of these weird kids, you would certainly find him rambling on about quantum physics theories, but only when his nose isn’t buried in books on Norse mythology. In the video game form, Munin gives us a platforming adventure where the titular character must traverse paradoxically laid-out world (nine of them, according to legend) collecting feathers before being whisked away by a bald-eagle-sized raven to a paradoxically laid-out world to collect feathers before —- okay you get the idea, but the point is: Norse.

Munin1

To undo said paradoxes, Munin can alter the orientation of specific square divisions of the 2D level, so long as she herself isn’t standing in said square. This is a no-physics-knowledge-required rule. If you rotate a square while a boulder is falling through it, well that hunk of rock is going to have to wait right there until Munin says otherwise, because the concept of momentum is not often mentioned alongside Odin and Thor. Read your scripture, you science-loving heathen. Trust me, I tried to find weaknesses to exploit in this rule to no avail; it’s bulletproof.

If you’re like me, you’ll struggle with this game at points. I remember taking so long to complete one complicated stage and having my triumphant demeanor ripped from my grasp when the next level looked ten times harder at first glance. Not a fun experience, but a successful puzzle game that’s fun in its own way. I was also impressed with the variation in level design; each world provides a new layer to toil over, improving upon the formula of the last.

Munin2

There are a few instances where I’d solve a level with the sneaking suspicion that I was supposed to do it a different way, which in other games could be considered a feature (to be able to complete a level in multiple ways), but Munin seems to be the sort of game with one particular path you’re supposed to uncover and walk upon. The execution of that goal, then, is suspect, to say the least.

Now does the game do a good job of portraying its theme of ancient deities? Sure. It is interesting to read up on the mythology Munin represents via intro texts to each world, but I can’t help but feel this game could easily be about anything. The way Limbo (an almost obligatory comparison when talking about indie platformers) used childhood fears of wild and exotic places (with a giant spider, no less) to influence gameplay was to let the story affect the environment and how the player interacts with said environment. The gameplay in Munin seems non-sequitur, which doesn’t mean I enjoyed each half any less, but I wish I could have enjoyed them together.

munin3

Closing Comments

Munin is a successful addition to the genre and, few issues aside, a largely entertaining experience. All a game like this has to succeed in is being innovative and challenging, which Munin has by the bucket, but buyer beware: this is not your typical fun-time brain teaser. The difficulty curve is staggering, which may force you to find ways of completing a level beyond what they intended.
score3.5

 Platform: PC