The expanded universe of Legend of Legends just got a little bigger today with The Song of Nunu.
Developed by Tequila Works and published by Riot Forge, Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story is the fifth League of Legends expanded universe standalone game. It is the third Riot Forge title released this year, following on the heels and success of The Mageseeker: A League of Legends Story and CONV/RGENCE: A League of Legends Story in April and May, respectively.
Song of Nunu puts you into the shoes and paws of League of Legends’ friendliest duo, Nunu, and his best pal and the last living Yeti, Willump. The two do everything together, with Nunu using his imagination to spin tales of adventure to Willump.
But today, that adventure is real.
We must join Nunu and Willump as they venture across the treacherous Freljord in search of Nunu’s mother, Layka, and something she called the Heart of the Blue.
World’s Mightiest Musical Instrument
Nunu’s specialty is his magical flute, Svellsongur. Using this flute, Nunu can play four different music notes to open doors and passageways, charm creatures to use as platforms, and bring out the power of magic ice, also known as True Ice, that you’ll find throughout Freljord. Nunu will need to play these notes individually or sometimes in combination.
I actually think Song of Nunu could’ve gone deeper into Nunu’s use of Svellsongur. While it’s possible to play all four music notes at once, you will seldom have to play more than a combination of two notes at a time. If Tequila Works didn’t want to go down this route in the story, I would’ve been okay with more challenging musical objectives for hidden unlockables. But given how short the game is, I can understand there only being time for one hidden song to discover.
The game’s ending does leave a lot of room open for more Nunu and Willump adventures, so if Tequila Works wanted to up the ante in a future installment, I wouldn’t complain about it.
The Power of Friendship versus Freljord
While Willump may be a mighty Yeti who does the heavy lifting (Literally), he and Nunu are a team and work best together.
With the powers of platforming, snowballs, musical notes, and Yeti claws, the two must work together to traverse treacherous terrain, solve various puzzles and defeat enemies. As you get further into the game, you’ll need to combine up to several of Song of Nunu’s basic game mechanics together to progress through certain sections.
Along the way, you can use everything you know to uncover hidden Yeti murals, help sad Poros, and find the stanzas of a song left behind by Nunu’s mother.
Willump is the Bestest Boy
Companions in many games, even in current-gen titles, are pretty inconsistent regarding quality. We’ve all probably played games where your companions are glorified knapsacks. They follow you like Brahmin and only come to life when you interact with them.
Willump is not like this.
Willump will chase after butterflies and get frustrated when one lands on his nose, but he can’t catch it. He will snatch a fish out of the nearest body of water or grab berries off a nearby fruit tree or bush and pop them in his mouth for a snack. He yawns and sneezes. He will scratch his back using a wall. If you’re busy figuring out a puzzle, Willump might plop down and take a rest.
Willump will sometimes make snow figures or paint on walls. Willump loves snowball fights with Nunu most but will go off and start (One-sided) snowball fights with random creatures. Willump feels like an actual living companion and not just an extension of the player.
Willump’s AI is also great. Since Willump and Nunu rely heavily upon each other to solve puzzles, it would be troublesome if Willump wasn’t an intelligent Yeti. Luckily for us, he is.
If you’re having trouble with your current objective, look at Willump. He will often point at an object that can help you or imitate Nunu playing his flute to indicate you need to break out Svellsongur and play some notes. When I needed Willump to do something on his own so we could progress, I never had any issues with him.
Oh, and did I mention you can hug Willump?
You can hug Willump.
Paws to the Wall
As you would expect from a duo of an 8-year-old flute player and a Yeti, Willump handles most of the fighting. And fight, he does.
Players familiar with games like Risen or Elex will get a quick grasp on the combat in Song of Nunu (Though the combat here is far less brutal, of course). Just wait for an enemy to attack, dodge, do a combo, then repeat until they go down.
Willump has light and strong attacks and can seamlessly combine the two for numerous combos. He can also do a ground-pound attack that also functions as a dodge. Some enemies require Willump to use strong attacks to break their guard first before he can do damage. Other enemies will protect their allies, and you must deal with them first.
Nunu is not useless in combat. Nunu can launch snowballs at enemies to get their attention and goad them into attacking. Thanks to Willump’s powers over True Ice, Nunu can also throw ice balls and enemies that briefly freeze them in place.
To stay alive, Willump can jump or side dash out of the way of enemy attacks. After depleting an enemy’s health bar, Willump, and Nunu can finish them off with one of their many finisher moves. If Willump’s health is getting low, use as many finishers as you can, as finishers restore his health. Willump also cannot take damage while doing a finisher.
Limited Combat but in a Good Way
Song of Nunu is not like typical action-adventure/platformer games where you can encounter enemies anywhere in the game world. Song of Nunu only has Arena-style mob battles and boss battles.
Most mob battles, even the combat tutorial, are gauntlets of several waves of enemies. Since Tequila Works spaced them out, these gauntlets never get tedious. It’s a problem in many games that love throwing gauntlets at you (I’m looking at you, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), so I’m happy Tequila Works didn’t make that mistake.
The boss battles are few in Song of Nunu, but all stand apart from the others. League of Legends fans will be pleased with some special guest appearances by some iconic League of Legends champions, not just as allies but as enemies, too.
My only real complaint with the combat is that the final boss battle is longer than I would’ve liked. The combat mechanics in Song of Nunu’s boss battles don’t change, which is fine since most are relatively short. But the final boss fight has the least variety of any boss fight in the game, and it goes on the longest. It’s a worthy game-ending showdown, but not the high note it could’ve been.
Song of Nunu: A Simple but Exciting Tale
Song of Nunu is a wholesome and straightforward coming-into-oneself story of a boy who always dreamt of being a hero and actually becoming one. There is power within Nunu, but it takes a little encouragement from a few friends and his mother for Nunu to realize how strong he truly is.
As Nunu and Willump inch closer to their ultimate goal and the stakes get higher, Nunu must rise above his fears, not just for himself but possibly all of Frelijord.
A Tale of Two Friends
Nunu and Willump are two loners without their people, and the game doesn’t shy away from reminding you of that now and again. But what Song of Nunu does even more is remind you that these two guys are best friends. Even when things get dangerous, that doesn’t stop Nunu and Willump from having fun.
The best illustration of their friendship is what brought the two together in the first place: a snowball fight.
There are several “official” snowball fights Nunu can have with Willump, but you can have unofficial snowball fights with Willump at any time. And no, there’s no “point” in doing this or achievement to unlock. You do it because Nunu and Willump are friends, and it’s fun.
At the end of the day, Song of Nunu is a story of two best friends going on a grand adventure together, and no matter what Freljord throws at them, their friendship never wavers, and the fun never ends.
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story – 8/10
Song of Nunu is pretty short, but that’s okay. It’s just the right length and something you can finish in a weekend. It’s wonderfully charming, and plays out like a Disney movie. Besides a few notable exceptions, like the endgame areas, which look intentionally bleak, the majority of the game’s environments are varied and beautiful. Freljord is supposed to be this brutal and unforgiving place, but you could’ve fooled me after playing this game.
I never found anything overly challenging, but the game doesn’t outright hold your hand, either. There’s a healthy balance of platforming, puzzles, and combat, and even a cool stealth level towards the end of the game. Nunu might have a future as a Splinter Cell.
Great for the kids, great for the adults, and great for the adults who are kids at heart. It’s a welcome addition to the expanded League of Legends universe and an excellent pickup for any LoL fanatic. The Song of Nunu is definitely worth listening to. I give it 8 happy Poros out of 10.