Riot Forge and Tequila Works just set foot in the frozen wastes of the Freljord, but Song of Nunu will melt even the coldest of hearts.
When I think of League of Legends, I don’t instantly conjure up cute and cuddly. Sure, Poro’s are sweet but they tend to come crashing onto your desktop along with all the other collaborative problems that players bring to bear. Even the outstanding Arcane and Convergence bring a gritty edge to each outing. This time, however, League’s last Yeti and his Notai friend have my heart with an utterly wholesome adventure. Available now across PC and Nintendo Switch for $29.99 or local equivalent, Song of Nunu is a new outing for a familiar pair of Riot’s champions. Taking a break from the Arena and heading out into the wider world, this title stomps off into the frozen frontier and follows these two firm friends as on an exciting road trip where they bound across treacherous landscapes, battle ferocious wolves, and seek out a legendary artifact that might be the key to saving the world.
An Inviting Adventure
Despite the epic stakes that seem to await, Song of Nunu is an instantly inviting escapade. Designed by Tequila Works, the Spanish studio has drawn inspiration for this version of the League characters from previous platformer RIME. We’re far beyond the walls of Zaun and despite a chilling introduction, the presentation is nothing short of gleeful. Big swirls, bold colors, and bright eyes bring Willump the Yeti bounding onto screen with a bright enthusiasm that’s infectious. Nunu is similarly stylized giving the young Notai an animated look that matches the perky outgoing personality.
The use of bold color, even in a world that’s caught in the grip of winter, is obvious. It sets the tone for the entire title. Where life peeks out from behind the tundra, it’s vibrant, and the world feels exciting rather than infantile. The is a game clearly designed to appeal to all ages. Away from the sewers and cityscapes, there’s plenty of time for payers to head out and explore as you seek the Heart of the Blue.
Platforming and Pals
Getting the hang of shepherding these two chums around frozen land and underground tunnels isn’t particularly difficult. You’ll be best placed to grab a controller, but even those of us in the lowest tiers of League won’t be perplexed by the intuitive mix of analog sticks and shoulder triggers.
Both Willump and Nunu have their own particular movement, but the game tends to split time between the two well enough. When Nunu sits atop the last Yeti’s shoulders, the overall field of view expands accordingly, areas tend to be larger and environmental hazards more impressive. Willump can be found regularly clambering up ice walls, running across wide space, acting as a sled, and occasionally taking down the odd wolf. The big furball is well utilized to do the sort of things that you wouldn’t send a human child to do, and there’s tons of variety to make him more than a mode of transport. Nunu will also get down and walk around when you’re not barrelling down an ice plane. As a very different character, Nunu tends to be used for puzzle solving, whipping out his flute and playing away obstacles. Svellsongur can actually be used in game, combining a mix of shoulder buttons to trigger specific notes, usually resulting in environmental obstacles moving. Nunu is, however, the heart of the core mission into the far mountains, and you’ll also find him scampering off into unique areas Willump can’t quite fit into and exploring the more narrative focused parts of the world.
This odd couple both get a varied amount of screen time and the content complements this painting fantastically. While these are two very different heroes, the problems they solve together are structured so neither one feels like a bystander. As these two clamber across ledges and scale mountains, Willump does most of the grunt work. At the same time, the intuitive control system means that Nunu can sit atop his friend and throw snowballs to clear a path or turn water into ice. During other puzzles Nunu might be on his own, but Willump can be found in the background navigating platforms as they unlock, responding to everything that his companion does. Even when Willump is forced to head into the odd fight, Nunu can be found participating in some flashy finishing moves.
That companionship bleeds through into more than the gameplay. The two interact in a wonderful way that makes them feel like more than just 3D placeholders. While the scripted story and voice acting are wonderful, it’s the ambient additions that really make the pair feel authentic. Although Willump might only be able to grunt back at Nunu, the Yeti has tons of personality. Nunu regularly explains uses Willump as a way to explain the wider lore to the audience. Fans of League will adore seeing the likes of Ornn and Braum, but the heart of the game is really about the way the two friends interact.
Throw a snowball while sat on top of Willump and Nunu might triumphantly shout to his partner. Put down the controller and walk away for a while and you may very well come back to Willump loitering around looking for food or getting silly. These little bits of back and forth banter that Tequila Works inject into interactions make this a pair that I adore spending time with, wherever this tale takes us.
While I’m not going to ruin this captivating story, it’s safe to say that the tale this tells is well worth the time you might dip into it. It doesn’t come with a ton of replay value, but that’s not the intent. Much like RIME, this is a meticulously crafted piece of work that doesn’t initially reveal its hand too quickly. It’s safe for most ages, but it will remain with you. Somehow, the team behind this have managed to dip into Nunu’s own heritage, exploring League lore and weaving in a magical melody. This story is really about friendship. While I adored the option to equip Nunu’s flute and unlock puzzles using music, the game is still wonderfully action packed. A varied and inventive mix of ideas, a wonderful depiction of two friends, and a story that welcomes in League newbies is a difficult balance to strike. Somehow, Song of Nunu manages is. If you’re looking for a Yeti sized hug then check out Song of Nunu on the official website and grab it now.