I’m going to be straightforward here, I’m not a League of Legends fan. I have plenty of respect for the series, don’t get me wrong, and I have tried a handful of times to get into the game, but the reality is that I don’t have the skills or time to get good, and MOBAs simply aren’t my cup of tea.
A genre more to my liking however are single player, story-rich adventure games, which is exactly what Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story, sets out to be, telling a tale of a boy and his Yeti, as they embark on a journey across the vast frozen region known as the Freljord.
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story focuses on the titular Nunu and his best buddy Willump, the last remaining Yeti, who together serve as a playable pairing in League of Legends. After Nunu is visited in his dreams by his missing mother and told to seek out a mysterious power referred to as The Heart of the Blue, Willump and Nunu quickly make their way across the Freljord to the Winged Mountain, the location where this power supposedly resides. The pair are destined to cross paths with many League of Legends champions on their escapade through the Freljord, including the giant shield-wielding Braum, and the blacksmith demi-god Ornn, who both assist the pair in their crusade for the Heart of the Blue. Not all is positive however, as Lissandra the Ice Witch has her own nefarious plans for the Heart of the Blue, plans that require Willump and the power he holds as the last of his kind.
Frolicking in the Freljord
It’s a relatively basic storyline, but Song of Nunu tells it in an exceedingly entertaining and engaging manner. What makes the journey so engrossing from the outset is the relationship between Nunu and Willump. It’s clear as day from the early moments that these two absolutely adore one another, and the wholesome banter and silliness that they display throughout their quest makes them particularly loveable protagonists that you can’t help but want to see succeed in their goal. From their silly snowball fights to their humorous interactions with one another, it all culminates in a strong dynamic that is infectiously charming and engaging. Seeing that relationship challenged throughout the narrative is also fascinating to see, as is seeing the past of both Nunu and Willump and how it impacts them. The writing is absolutely great throughout Song of Nunu, with its delivery further strengthened by top-tier voice acting.
There was many a moment where I laughed out loud at the way in which Nunu would cheekily clap back at Willump, and although Willump doesn’t speak in a language discernible to players, he still manages to exhibit plenty of character and personality in his body language and the subtitles that appear to summarise the emotion of his reactions to other characters’ dialogue. The cast of characters and the storytelling of Song of Nunu is definitely its most attractive asset, and thankfully, all other aspects of the game are at comparable standard.
Visually, Song of Nunu is really pretty, with a vast array of strong vibrant colours that fit in well with its predominantly wholesome and whimsical vibe. In a way, it’s reminiscent of developer Tequila Works’ 2017 adventure game RiME, but with an expected League of Legends-inspired stylistic flavour. It looks great both during gameplay and throughout its various story cutscenes. The soundtrack is also solid, something I noticed the impact of very early on in my playthrough, with its fanciful, fantastical nature befitting of the Freljord. It’s probably not the sort of music I’ll be throwing into my Spotify rotation anytime soon, but it serves its role at enhancing the atmosphere rather impressively.
Nunu is a delightful little dude
Throughout Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story, you assume control of both Nunu and Willump. Sometimes you will control just Nunu, with the AI-controlled Willump hanging out as you navigate areas he can’t reach, or assisting you in completing a puzzle. In other instances, Nunu rides atop Willump and you gain control of the Yeti, with Nunu’s ability to play music notes on his flute Svellsongur still accessible if required for completing puzzles.
Exploration involves some relatively basic platforming, and some Uncharted-esque ledge climbing segments, both of which are enjoyable but prone to the occasional frustrating moment. A few deaths throughout my experience were the result of the rather stiff and unreliable jumping that both Nunu and Willump share, and while it’s not a huge deal, it was a minor annoyance nonetheless. For some reason, some ledges refused to let me grip on them unless I hit them at a very particular spot. Again, this only happened in a handful of instances, and both the climbing and platforming are otherwise enjoyable. For those wondering if you can give Willump a big hug, you most definitely can, in fact, you can interact and give him a cuddle whenever you like.
Song of Nunu is a largely linear affair, however there are a few collectibles to find if you happen to stray off the beaten path. There are a few murals to be tracked down that display various key figures in the Freljord, which in turn results in some additional juicy lore for those that are interested. Also scattered throughout the Freljord are some sad but adorable Poros, which are cute little fluffy creatures that are in need of a feed. Tracking them down and giving them a snack not only cheers them up, but rewards Nunu with a fragment of a cute Poro picture that can be completed if you find them all.
While exploring the Freljord, Nunu and Willump have to complete various puzzles to ensure they keep moving forward, and they’re actually probably my favourite part of the gameplay. Some puzzles are relatively easy, requiring you to simply make use of Nunu’s Svellsongur to play a note or series of notes in order to satisfy the song notes that appear above an object or adorned on a rune. Other puzzles require a bit more thinking, such as one that required navigating various ropes that had green flowers on them, that when hit was one of Nunu’s snowballs would explode and set off a chain reaction to any other green flowers within reach of it. This puzzle in particular required chaining two separate sets at a precise time, so that they would both destroy the plant growth that was stopping a drawbridge from opening. This puzzle probably took me longer than I’d like to admit, but I had a really enjoyable time figuring it out, and there are a few puzzles akin to this throughout the game. The best part of completing a puzzle is that Willump will often gesture to Nunu for an optional high five, and you best believe that I always ran to him when I noticed a satisfying crisp high five was on offer.
Combat is a rather easy button-mashy affair, but I really enjoyed it despite its simple nature. You make use of light and heavy attacks on enemies that you encounter such as wolves, while also having the ability to dodge enemy attacks. Some enemies require heavy attacks in order to break their defences and make them vulnerable, but for the most part you can quickly get rid of a horde of foes by mashing away. What makes it so enjoyable are the various finishers, which see both Nunu and Willump performing special moves as they finish off their enemies, in a rather satisfying fashion.
There are also some autorunner style sledding segments where you navigate Willump down hill, avoiding obstacles and hitting red coloured exploding flowers to ensure you maintain a safe path, in what is another example of Song Of Nunu’s constantly varying approach to gameplay, which kept things fresh and helped break up the intermittently frustrating platforming sections.
Puzzles provide a welcome challenge
Regardless of how many hours you’ve sunk into League of Legends over the years, whether it be hundreds, thousands, or perhaps even none at all, Song of Nunu: A League Legends Story is a game worthy of your attention. It’s a roughly eight to twelve hour adventure with an abundance of heart, with a charming duo you’ll quickly fall in love with. The platforming may occasionally frustrate with its stiff and sometimes unreliable nature, but the engaging atmosphere and pleasing visuals of the Freljord and the gameplay that constantly shifts between exploration, puzzle solving and combat are sure to keep you entertained until credits roll.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher
- Tequila Works
- Riot Forge
- PC / Switch
- November 2, 2023