Munin

Gojira’s puzzle platformer Munin is well-designed, but it lacks the drive necessary to keep it engaging and to elevate it above mediocrity. Each level consists of three to six square segments that can be rotated to adjust the path for your avatar, which you traverse using the WASD keys and the spacebar. The object is to collect all of the scattered feathers. The idea quickly becomes tiresome after the first world, but the game does a great job introducing a new mechanic with each subsequent area that changes the dynamic of play in fun and interesting ways. For instance, the ice world introduces a water mechanic which can be manipulated to provide you with a boost to your height, and the “death” world that has spirit gems that haunt moving platforms, just to name a few. It provides just enough intrigue to someone who found the original premise compelling enough to make it that far.

The overall puzzle designs are enhanced because every level is difficult enough to provide a sense of accomplishment for conquering the task, and although the game does punish failure with a complete reset of the current level every time, it was always possible for me to see what I did wrong—which gave me the incentive to try again. With the possible exception of the overly dark Svartálfaheimr, the level layouts are intuitive and reasonably easy to manage. The solid design choice to ensure each level fits onto the screen makes it possible to view everything that would affect you at once. There are levels that are very complex – particularly the final stages of each world – which can provide a satisfying challenge, or complete and disheartening frustration.

It is that frustration where Munin falls short. Unfortunately, it has nothing else to offer the player for success besides a few archaic lines referencing Norse cosmology and more levels to play. This is a shame, because the game could have been very deep and enjoyable if it provided a story, characterization, or some other hook to keep the player grounded. As it is, I could have just as easily stood up and walked away from the experience, claiming it wasn’t worth the effort, and unfortunately I might have been right.

Other puzzle platformers like Braid offer the player a mystery to unveil; Portal might have been forgettable without one of the most memorable characters of gaming; and Limbo gave the player a bone-chilling aesthetic on top of its own little mystery. This is the sort of thing that Munin desperately needs. Although the game attempts to establish an identity through thematic elements from Norse mythology (such as Odin, his crow and poetry), it fails to connect on any significant level, and leaves the player an outlier to its world. Without this connection, it is left with only its mechanics to stand on, and when the going gets tough the player will probably just walk away.

Despite its lack of presence, the puzzles are fun—if you give them a chance and approach them with patience. The game is very easy to pick up and play. It’s the kind of game that I would say belongs best on a mobile platform, except the combination of platforming and rotating the level at the same time would be impossible to execute on such a device. However, as a PC game it could be a fine addition to your Steam library as something you use as a 15 minute break. In fact, the game’s sometimes frustrating nature could work to its advantage in such a situation, because once you hit a wall it could simply mean it’s back to work.

With that said, the game only offers so much content. There are no leaderboards, or any apparent additional challenges beyond the 77 levels of the campaign. With all of my failures and headscratching, it took about 8 hours for me to finish it up, which is fair for a budget indie title, but there are a lot of other games I could recommend that have a lot more to offer.

Regardless, the game can be fun and unique in spite of its flaws. If you’re looking for something to turn on occasionally and give you a good brain tease, then you might be satisfied with Munin. If you’re looking for something you can sink your teeth into and walk away from with fond memories, I’m afraid that Munin is as ephemeral as feather on the wind.