Mawn is a short indie horror game from Missing Guns Studio, an indie game studio from Bangalore, India.
The first time I played Mawn, I was genuinely surprised and was left very emotional. This indie horror game was about five minutes long. Within these five minutes, I started to attach myself to the protagonist. There are no cutscenes, no word salads scrolling, but still, I started to feel for Nikki. It felt like I knew Nikki. Mawn impressed me with it’s “show-don’t-tell” story and wonderful world-building.
A Wonderful Story-telling
Mawn translates to soulful silence in most of the Indian languages. There is no better title for a game dealing with loneliness and depression. As soon as you boot up the game, you are put into a sort of bland and colorless world. This symbolism is somewhat clear from the start. The world seems depressing through Nikki’s eyes, dull and boring. There are many more symbolic ideas tossed around for us to explore. Even within the confines of a small room, they’ve managed to tell a very fine story. You can make out most of the story by exploring these rooms. However, you probably wouldn’t expect the ending.
Immersive and Scary Experience
The gameplay feels a lot similar to Life is Strange and similar 3D visual novels. Walk around, point at objects and the press a button. That’s all there is to it. Nikki remarks about almost all things lying around in the room. This adds to the backstory and makes Nikki a lot more relatable character. As far as voice-acting goes, the voice actors did a pretty solid job. Nikki sounds exactly like a teenager and the actor has managed her tones with emotions. This makes it feel a lot more real. The way they tell this story makes it worth experiencing it. The dark premise and an uneasy theme coupled with an interesting story-telling experience make it a memorable five minutes.
A Very Dark and Scary Room
The whole setting of the game is what makes it way too scary. The colors, sounds and general atmosphere give you a good scare in itself. You are constantly expecting a jump scare but the game tries to throw you off with its story. However, if you have played any sort of horror game or watched any horror movie, you’ll know when it’ll come up. It comes right when you expect it making it least scary. But, the world changes abruptly with the jump scare making an already haunting world much more terrifying. The soundtracks add to this experience. The sound effects were absolutely haunting. You might want to plug in some good headphones while you play. Turn your lights off and you are in for a treat.
Keep in mind that this was made for a game jam. As far as technical stuff goes, the game could use a lot more optimization. There were frame-drops every 10-20 seconds. But at the end of the day, this is a five-minute game made in about a day or so for a game jam. So that excuses minor mistakes like those. There are a few other minor mistakes like the dad sleeping with his eyes open and such. Jump scares were not scary.
Is this horror game worth it?
The game deals with a heavy and dark subject. Do not play it if you are sensitive to issues like emotional traumas and depression. Otherwise, do give it a try. The game is genuinely good. Mawn has sensibly handled a very delicate topic by putting ourselves into the shoes of a depressed teenager. This indie horror game is free and it takes about 5 minutes to complete the game. The ending makes these five minutes worth it. There are no reasons as to why you shouldn’t pick it up. It is now available on itch.io for free.
If you love games like these, check out our review on Into A Dream.