Have you ever wanted to tickle your brain with a soothing puzzle platformer that heavily draws on Norse mythology for it’s inspiration? It’s probably something you never thought of yourself before, but apparently somebody did, and they brought us Munin.
Puzzle platformers are seemingly everywhere these days and honestly Munin doesn’t really do much to separate itself from the pack, but that doesn’t mean the game is completely without merit.
Upon looking at Munin you will be drawn in by the graphics and artstyle. Are the graphics particulary good? Not really honestly, however, the entire game has a water color look to it that leads to some nice looking environments. This really is a style vs. substance case going on here as everything is very minimalistic in the presentation.
The only thing you see on the screen is the game itself after a very short one level tutorial. No items counters, points totals, and even the music itself keeps it very simple. The tunes mainly consist of steady ambient haunting melodies.
Above I used the word soothing and that really is the perfect word to describe it. It really relaxes you and keeps the stress levels down which is necessary considering how devious some of the puzzles get as you go through the game.
Keeping with the theme is minimalism is the overall story, in that, it’s basically non-existent. I know basically nothing about Norse mythology as I was always more in tune with the greek gods myself.
However, I figured I might be able to lose myself in some of the lore of the game as just from looking at the game you could tell they went for a very artistic approach. Unfortunately I felt this was a bit of a dropped ball as I had to go to Wikipedia just to find out the significance of the titular character of Munin to Norse mythology.
Anyway, speaking of those puzzles, oh boy, is this one interesting. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of the straight up puzzle genre and I enjoy puzzles when they are mixed in with a game of another genre. Stuff like Zelda or Pixel Junk Shooter. Normally it’s hard for the genre to keep my attention but outside of the classic tetris styles games, I haven’t really ventured into the more interesting and complex puzzle genres.
I’m calling this a puzzle platformer because technically you do walk around and jump, but thats hardly the focus of the game. You won’t be pulling off any triple jump wall kicks as if you were doing a Super Mario 64 speed run. Your jump is very weak and normally isn’t enough to get you across any chasm or up on a ledge without the help of the environment.
How this works is that each segment of the map you are on is split up into different sections and you can rotate those sections to reach different areas. For example, if there is a pit in front of you, spin that section around until the ceiling is now the floor, and you can walk on it. You basically spin the map around until you can reach the feathers that are scattered throughout the stage. It’s simple enough at first and the first stage keeps it easy by just having you manipulate the map.
Later stages will bring to you much more complicated maps that force you to work with stuff like giant rolling boulders that will kill you if they roll into you and water which you must use to fill up certain areas so you can swim up to ledges.
However, the segments don’t rotate at a set speed, you can spin them around as fast as you want which allows you to spin the area around, let the water fall half way, then spin it again so the water reaches the area you want it to. If the spins were set you would spin the area around and wouldn’t be able to spin it again until it set back into place.
This would mean that if the set spin took the ground away, the water would fall into the pit every single time, but now you can spin it really fast until the water sets upon a hill and then rolls down to a different area of the map entirely.
It’s not the easiest thing to explain in text form and things get even more complicated when you get to maps with more than the usual three segments you are first introduced too. This means you have to deal with multiple levels and often times when you spin an area on these maps, it will spin a corresponding area as well so you have to take multiple segments into account.
It is also imporant to note that you can’t rotate a tile if you are currently standing on it and this goes for the corresponding tiles in the multilayered stages as well.
The entire thing can get very challenging and some of the later maps get very elaborate and one screw up means you have to do the entire puzzle over again from the beginning. I personally found it to be very frustrating at times especially since some of the later levels seem to punish you for trial and error meaning you will be restarting a lot.
Things aren’t helped either by the controls which can be very wonky and imprecise at times. I get that this isn’t an action platformer but even the aforementioned weak jumping doesn’t have to be imprecise weak jumping.
I found myself having to mash on the jump button just to get up on a ledge due to the wonky jumping controls. This gets really problematic during some of the more difficult stages where one wrong move can mean thirty minutes of puzzle solving down the drain.
There are nine chapters total in the game and lots of puzzles within each chapter so there is a lot of meat in this game but I felt some of the chapters really dragged on and found myself forcing my way through some of them.
However, my personal feelings and challenges with this game aside, it really offers a unique style and a lot of content. If you are a puzzle game junkie this will offer a lot for you so check it out and get lost in the soothing magical world, everybody else, proceed with caution.
Munin was reviewed using a code provided by Daedalic Entertainment. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.