I had the chance to play Riot Games’ newest Riot Forge title, Song of Nunu, before its official release. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying it more than I had anticipated. Somehow, I had gotten it in my mind that, while Song of Nunu would be an adventure game, it would be aimed at a younger audience and lack any real emotional depth or impact on the greater League of Legends story. What I discovered instead was that crow actually hates tastes great, and Song of Nunu is a wonderful, deeply emotional story about loss, finding family, and strength in your friends when times are at their darkest.
While this is a completely spoiler-free review—because robbing players of the chance to experience this story firsthand would be a crime—I will say that Song of Nunu has a surprisingly deep impact on the story of the Freljord. Not only are old mysteries solved and questions answered, but the stories of several champions are moved along or recontextualized significantly, none more so than the titular Nunu & Willump themselves. Fans of League’s lore and the Freljord especially would be seriously missing out if they skipped this title.
Song of Nunu follows Nunu & Willump at some point after their biography on League’s universe page. The two at this point have clearly been on a few adventures, reciting tales of races and snowball fights past that Nunu appears to have mostly been winning. However, there will be time for plenty more adventures as Nunu and Willump travel to the Winged Mountain in search of a mysterious artifact revealed to Nunu in his dreams: The Heart of the Blue.
It really impresses me how Song of Nunu managed to maintain a feeling of whimsical childlike adventure without shying away from the grim and dangerous reality of our protagonist’s quest. Dark forces that seek the death of our heroes, the uncomfortable confrontation with grief and loss, and even the dangerous nature of the wild Freljord itself are presented head-on and honestly without making the game feel gratuitously grim or violent. A scene very early on where we watch Nunu get chased down from the POV of a blood-thirsty Ice Wolf honestly shocked me, and did a good job of setting the tone for the story to come and letting me know just how seriously the writers were taking it.
The writers did a fantastic job, not just with the story, but with how they treated the characters. There weren’t any lines of dialogue that stood out as weird or bad to me or made me question if the character would say that, which is something I can’t say for every crossover story in League’s history (cough, Sentinels of Light.) Every champion cameo was fun and felt true to their character, every victory felt earned and every defeat was full of tension. The respect the writers had for the source material made the entire story all the more exciting and captivating.
The story really is the selling point for Song of Nunu, and the gameplay is a fun way to transition between story beats in this five-part play. If I had to compare the game to another, it would be God of War, with a lot of platforming and puzzles to tide you over between and during engaging bits of dialogue. Combat is light, mostly used to break things up between some brain-teasing puzzles, with simple mechanics and fun finishing animations to help keep things cinematic.
Several minigames, such as Yeti sledding and epic Nunu vs. Willump snowball fights are used just the right amount of times in my opinion, breaking up the repetition of gameplay without feeling overdone.
The weakest point of gameplay comes in the game’s final chapter, which is almost exclusively one long stealth segment. To be completely honest, I found this segment kind of a pain to get through, and was the source of most of my retries. In total, I spent about six hours beating Song of Nunu’s story, and easily an hour of that was dedicated just trying to get through the stealth part of this level, getting caught in sections I felt I really shouldn’t have and dealing with a few frustrating glitches — like guards who were stationary in the last try having their pathing break, causing them to constantly flip back and forth so they had an impossible 360-degree cone of vision.
While frustrating to get through, this last chapter is full of little cutscenes and bits of dialogue to distract you from the stealth gameplay and culminates in an exciting boss fight that makes it all feel worth it. That being said, I’d say that the game would be better off without the stealth mechanics and this final level could have been executed better.
Once you beat Song of Nunu and make it through the exciting epilogue, you can go back and replay any of the levels through a chapter-select screen. While I beat the game in about 6 hours, I was nowhere close to getting 100% completion. Secrets like song stanzas, murals and poros are hidden throughout the levels for you to discover. Nunu’s notebook slowly fills up as you discover secrets, serving both as a guidebook to the Freljord’s lore and as an objective list for completionists. Unlocking all of Nunu’s hand-drawn entries in the notebook is a fun scavenger hunt that encourages you to go back and relive the game even after you’ve reached its epic conclusion.
The Final Word
Layka taught me that a song never dies; similarly, Song of Nunu is a game that will undoubtedly live on in the memories of those who play it. Fans of League’s lore are in for an epic continuation of several beloved champion’s stories, and a heartwarming adventure awaits fans and newcomers alike. Song of Nunu is without a doubt worth your time, with interesting puzzles, great characters and a fantastic pace that keeps the game rolling.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Song of Nunu is available on Steam, GoG, Epic Games, and Nintendo Switch.