At a recent event, Game Rant got the chance to watch demo gameplay of the artsy-horror game Mundaun, a title in which players will uncover a dark supernatural mystery in the regions surrounding the imposing mountain peak after which the game is named. The game's textures are all hand-drawn in pencil, providing a uniquely eerie air, but the evocative setting and overwhelming atmosphere were the most compelling features showcased at the event. In a brief Q&A after the event, the game's creator shed a little more light on how he built the alpine setting to evoke both awe and dread.

Mundaun takes place in a semi-open world, separated into three large levels, each with a totally different feel. In the preview, creator Michel Ziegler walked publisher MWM Interactive's EVP Ethan Stearns through part of the second area, a region defined by lakes and sparse, stony land. The preview started in a quant artist's cottage and showcased exploration, surreal puzzles, and creepy beekeeper enemies standing in the way of a few key items.

The artist's cottage was a great example of how detailed and true to life the environments of Mundaun feel, no doubt because it is based on an actual alpine home used by a painter in the 1950s. Ziegler stated that he took thousands of photos on location in the Alps over the course of developing Mundaun, all in order to make the environment feel like a specific, real place. When asked how realistic the environments are, he explained that "It will not be exactly the same... it is more about evoking the feeling." That left us with the question: why the Alps in the first place?

Stearns also pointed out that the Alps are typically portrayed as a pristine, beautiful landscape, but once they are depicted in black and white, they take on a more somber and creepy atmosphere. Ziegler compared the game's gray-scale pencil drawings to early Swiss black and white films that leant the landscape a "mood of oppression." Adding to that mood of oppression is the dark themes present in the story, which often references folklore local to the Aps. Ziegler specifically mentioned devil's bridges, and explained that he relied on legends that include the devil and dark magic to weave into Mundaun's story.

The unique sense of space created by Mundaun's areas is difficult to describe, but suffice it to say that few other games manage to make a setting feel quite so realized. Likewise, the creepy atmosphere is tough to nail down, with the story, the art style, the music, and so many other cues adding to the sensation of dread. The game may be worth checking out for its showcase of top-notch worldbuilding alone, even for those who aren't typically drawn to horror titles.

Mundaun will launch in early 2021 on PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.