Munin is a puzzle platformer with a heavy Norse mythological theme running throughout. Norse mythology is pretty exciting business – not that you can tell that through the story told in Munin. If Munin is one thing, then that thing is anything but exciting.
Munin has you collecting feathers to regain your Raven form after Loki turns you (Munin, Odin’s messenger Raven) into a Mortal girl. The game adds difficulty to collecting the feathers by splitting each level into multiple tiles that can individually or simultaneously be rotated. There are nine worlds each with their own theme for puzzle completion that will either help or hinder your progress. These include lasers (of both harmless and harmful types), water, lava, physics and more.
One particularly strange thing is that the left mouse button will rotate the tiles clockwise but the right mouse button jumps. Jumps. As in, not rotating the tiles counter-clockwise but instead it makes you jump. It’s a missing feature that would remove a lot of tedium from later levels with instant death, as clicking once instead of three times is far, far easier.
Unfortunately Munin starts with a bad impression – not the text, story or art style mind, those are different issues. Basic movement is a little floaty, but jumping is a tad off in whether it reaches the appropriate height. Some jumps onto ledges required a second or third attempt to get over the threshold. Ladders would occasionally not be seen as platforms so walking across would let you fall down, which would sometimes lead to death. It wouldn’t be as irritating for these minor slips if the game weren’t dependent on precise movement and speed during some of the later levels.
The biggest problem that Munin has is that some of the mechanics that are integral to completing levels – and therefore the game – are just immensely frustrating. Lava relies completely on physics and rotation of the tiles, leaving you waiting for it to slowly dribble out at times either to fill areas or to let it cool off and dissipate. Death lasers often kill you instantly whilst you are in the midst of turning tiles. You have to be incredibly quick and precise sometimes to not get fried, and other times the lasers have a brief wind up period. Sometimes the tiles don’t turn quick enough and then the laser fries you before you can get that extra turn.
These problems are further exacerbated by the fact that it is a little bit on the boring side to say the least. Most of the levels feel tiring to go through, especially if there are any instant death type elements involved. Repeating a long set of requirements, especially when lava or death lasers are involved, is beyond tedious; even more so when lava physics don’t work out how you need them to or lava starts to spawn from a spout in short bursts because – presumably – a fleck of lava has decided that the moment you need to cross the spout is a good time for it to dissipate and respawn.
If you did however decide to play a specific level that you enjoyed – and for arguments sake let’s say the last level of a Chapter – then the only way to do so is to play through every last one. It’s unlikely that you’d ever want to play a level again though as once they have been completed there is no incentive to go back to them.
There was a level set featuring runes in it that was quite interesting though. Tiles had to be rotated to match two halves of a rune, thereby activating it and allowing you to collect feathers that were previously unobtainable. Once the paired feather was collected then the rune would explode, helping you slowly narrow down the remaining options. That was a fairly reasonable and fun set of levels.
Munin has a few minor missteps with its art style. The first one is understandably that they have gone for a runic font for the game’s text which thematically is fine, but it isn’t the easiest font to focus your eyes on. Secondly the backgrounds are thickly painted, dreamy landscapes – not entirely dissimilar to the backgrounds in Yoshi’s New Island – that constantly shift slightly to bring in the dreamy element. However, all the foregrounds are in a different style that, depending on the colours, either look merely OK or conflict hugely, and are then completely unappealing to look at.
All in all we can’t recommend Munin, at its core it is tedious to play. The story is told in a strange and unappealing manner that makes it feel completely unrelated to anything that you are doing in the levels themselves. Levels, though varied, feel very repetitive – but perhaps that is through introducing new ideas for a handful of levels at a time and forcing you to keep on that strict regime before doing away with it in favour of another. Lethargy (or bigtime brain sleepiness) is the feeling you’ll come away with from this and it’ll settle itself in very early on in the game. But at least it has Steam Trading Cards so, y’know, it has that going for it.