Riot Forge has been plenty busy with their creative expanded riffs on the heroes and culture of League of Legends’ lore. Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story takes the wintry paired heroes into their own narrative platformer, with an all-ages adventurous journey through the snow-covered Freljord that explores some of the central motivations referenced in the characters’ bios.
Publisher Riot Forge’s previous releases have spanned multiple genres thus far, from turn-based RPG to metroidvania to rhythm game, and here, Song of Nunu feels like a classic and straightforward character-focused 3D platformer, complete with the benefits and blunders most common to these types of games. There’s strong story theme here regarding companionship, one which is relatively rarer to this genre, with Nunu a member of the Notai tribe — comparable to a kind of fantastical version of the Inuit people — and his buddy Willump a big and cuddly four-armed Yeti, possibly the last of his kind.
A Boy and His Yeti Against The World
The two journey and survive together, with Nunu most specifically searching for his lost mother after they were separated during a raid on their camp. Willump only communicates through gentle Chewbacca-like grunts which Nunu completely understands, but the latter is a nonstop chatterbox; some of the repetitive character barks in the game might grate particularly on those averse to feisty children voice performances, but both prove to be generally good company through the game’s 6-or-7-hour runtime.
Most of the time, players will be guiding the pair through light platforming and puzzles, with occasional breaks for a belly-slide on Willump’s back or a combat encounter. These brief bouts are arguably the weakest part of the game, with maybe three or four enemy types who barely need any active attention to defeat. This content only represents maybe 10% of Song of Nunu, not counting the final breezy boss fight, so it thankfully doesn’t outstay its welcome, but it’s hard not to wish for some a few more interesting gameplay types that could have effectively replaced the action, or which could have fit the themes better.
Running around atop Willump’s head or on foot allows the player to clamber onto cliff edges and mountainsides, and a charged up snowball can be used to freeze hexagonal platforms on lakes or even entire waterfalls. Song of Nunu’s basic platforming is a little stiff but serviceable, and missing a jump usually results in an instant reload to a nearby checkpoint. The jumping mechanics could stand to be smoother, but they work well enough, and riding on top of Willump gives Nunu the opportunity to simultaneously throw snowballs at triggered exploding plants and other incidental environmental devices to solve puzzles.
More Flute Puzzles, Please
There’s also a simple but effective flute-playing musical mechanic in the game which factors into its better puzzles. Nunu’s instrument can play one of eight different notes with the controller’s trigger and bumper buttons, with sequences prompting magical rocks to move or “magic ice” to spawn from certain plinths in the game. There’s never a need for proper rhythm, and playing the flute can also be done while riding Willump, so there could be instances when notes need to be played to move a chunk of rock while jumping past it, or activating a platform to rise up and allow Willump can shove a swinging rock with a few snowballs.
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story never gets any more complicated than that, but it’s best in these connective moments between the two characters, where they solve a problem together to unlock the next area. The overall simplicity leads one to think that it’s possibly a game geared more towards very young players, as there’s hardly ever any kind of challenge gate, with a late-game stealth-oriented section serving as probably the most difficult and complicated area to solve.
Snowballs, Stakes, and Secrets
All that being said, Song of Nunu’s later hours are also the most thematically dark, and the central pursuit of a lost parent is an appropriate downer, tone-wise. It’s not anything that would be out of step with a contemporary Disney film, but the cheery brightness which paints the early game – including some silly instances when Nunu and Willump engage in impromptu snowball fights – paths its way towards some stronger themes of loss and sacrifice.
The graphics seem toe-to-toe with a League of Legends match seen from ground level, for better and for worse. It’s a look which is iconic to the franchise by now, and it’s well-animated, charming, but also nothing that will get close to taxing a graphics card. The winter theme is also so persistent and constant that a mid-game warp to a very different environment serves as a grateful breather, and some special hero guest stars give a grander sense of the rich world the game takes place in.
There are also some light secrets to uncover, including cute little hungry Poros which can be fed, and some discoverable murals which can be collected for more lore context, accessible from a journal option in the pause menu. Most all of these extras can be discovered very easily by taking a quick “wrong turn” from the main path of the adventure, but they’re fun bits of content which may serve more value to dedicated LoL fans.
Final Thoughts & Review Score
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story is a cute adventure about friendship with some darker details to flesh out its stakes. Its basic platforming is nothing special, but the few smarter puzzles should make players sit up in their seats at least, and they’ll leave the game with a better grasp of the main characters’ world. It probably doesn’t do enough to warrant much attention from non-LoL fans, but it’s a gentle and accessible game which can be completed in one or two sittings, and very few platformers let you hug a yeti.
Source: Riot Forge/YouTube
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story releases on November 1 for PC and Nintendo Switch. A digital PC code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this review.