‘Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story’ Review – A fun, quirky and basic platformer, tailor-made for younger players

A fun, quirky but basic platformer for younger players

Nowadays, it feels like there are a distinct lack of narrative-driven games tailor-made for slightly older kids. Sure, you’ve got your Paw Patrol and Peppa Pigs for toddlers, and your Fifas and Fortnites for bigger kids, but there’s a distinct lack of content releasing regularly for those that fall squarely in the middle of this. Specifically, kids aged between 5 and 11.

Song of Nunu then is a charming little platformer that’s absolutely ideal for kids in that bracket. Oh, and big fans of the League of Legends world of course! This feels like a throwback to that bygone era of tie-in platformers that work well as stand-alone adventures to a bigger franchise and don’t outstay their welcome with too much repetitive gameplay. However, it’s also lacking in key areas too that prevent it from ascending up to the greatness of other games in this field.

Song of Nunu is not a particularly long game, clocking in at around 5-6 hours in total. What’s here is enjoyable enough to see you through to the end, but there’s also the undeniable feeling that this could be so much more.

To backtrack a bit, Song of Nunu takes place in the wintery world of Freljord, where you take control of Nunu, a young child and member of the Notai tribe that has been separated from his people. He’s joined by Willump, a lovable four-armed Yeti companion who may be the last of his kind. Together, they head off on a big adventure through the wilderness.

The narrative uses this basic crux of setting the stage for a dramatic twist before cutting back in time and leading up to that point. It works rather well here, as the pair embark on a journey to try and find Nunu’s mother. Along the way, Willump will chime in with his own little retorts, and Nunu has enough childish banter to keep you invested while playing.

The world itself is broken up into different chapters, and the presentation is pretty good all round. Each area keeps things fresh aesthetically, with lava levels, darker cave segments and your conventional exterior chilly tundra zones too. This certainly isn’t an Alan Wake 2 or Red Dead 2 in terms of visual prowess, but what’s here feels like a spruced up version of something like Croc or Spyro.

The draw distance isn’t too much of an issue either, given the controlled interior and exterior sections. The level design is admittedly very simple and basic though, and it’s not until late in the game where there’s any particular challenge with the platforming sections.

The environments aren’t too detailed but there are some nice touches. The same can be said for the character models, with some of the quirky animations in particular standing out. When Willump just starts juggling snowballs for example, there’s some definite charm that bleeds through in the game.

For the most part, the adventure will see you climbing, platforming and journeying across a simple set of levels. There’s very little deviation or side-attractions along the way, although this game isn’t completely devoid of additional goodies. There are some collectibles to grab, coming in the form of Murals, which are dotted across the environment, Songs (which come with their own little cutscenes) and Poros. The latter are little creatures inhabiting the world who can be quelled with a cookie or two. Each can be found, more or less, just off the main path to the next objective.

Unfortunately, the game has several point of no return segments and there’s absolutely no backtracking once you hit these marks. Completionists are probably going to be a bit irritated by this, especially given there’s a coupe of easy deviating paths where you’re not quite sure which one is the side path and which is the main objective. Going down the wrong path will push you forward with no way to return, and you’ll have to restart the whole game if you want to 100% this one and miss one of the segments.

To be fair, you’ll uncover a lot of what the game has to offer just by playing through the experience. There are a couple of new mechanics added along the way, including exploding fruit that unblock vines, combat arenas (which basically result in button mashing and holding buttons to hit finishers) and some light puzzles. There’s very little here that’s going to get you stumped though, which reinforces that earlier feel that this is actually for kids, not adults.

The combat system in this game is probably the weakest element and it’s largely separate to the platforming too. These pop up in simple arenas where you’ll need to bash simple or strong strikes and finish it up with a finisher. Most fights can be easily cheesed by jumping and hitting a strong strike, to which enemies have absolutely no response to. Sure, there are a couple of armoured goons that rush at walls to fall on their bellies, but the rest of the time this feels more like an after-thought than a genuinely great inclusion to the game.

There’s a very generous recovery system here, reinforcing that too, but ultimately this one slips up by omitting co-op. Given the way the game is set up, there are specific points where you’ll either play as Willump or Nunu, and you don’t get the choice of switching. The game will just railroad you into automatically changing over at different points. It feels a bit archaic in structure, and could have added a tiny bit more interactivity to switch between the two.

Given the game’s big themes about family and teamwork, popping in with another buddy (given couch co-op is a dying art right now), there could have been a desire to make this more like It Takes Two, with both players working together. Or at least switching out in single-player like the Lego games to utilize both characters’ specialities.

As it stands, this is a simple game that you’ll play through and likely never return to again. That’s a shame, because there’s a few neat moments in here, including those aforementioned snowball fights and a couple of good puzzles. 

With all that being said, Song of Nunu is very much a tailor-made experience for younger players in the bracket of 5-11 years old. However, there’s also a lot here for die-hard LoL fans to enjoy too. This is a simple platformer that’s crying out for a co-op option to really elevate the experience. The game is fun while it lasts, but don’t come away expecting anything that will blow you away.

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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