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Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story review

Riot's latest solo romp is a big win for a small hero.

Song of Nunu A League of Legends Story
Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story
4 out of 5 stars
4
Platforms
PC, Nintendo Switch
Release date
2 November 2023
Price:
From $44.95 (Steam)
Fergus Halliday
Oct 30, 2023
Icon Time To Read4 min read
pro
Pros
pro Charming world
pro Tight level design
pro Puzzles don't outstay their welcome
con
Cons
con Relatively short
con Combat isn't super deep

Reviewed on a Nintendo Switch.

Back when Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story was first announced my reaction was one of nonplussed apathy. I’ve played hundreds of hours of Wild Rift since it launched and even more of Riot's MOBA League of Legends.

Between 2021’s The Ruined King and last year’s Mageseeker, I’ve relished every expansion to the wider League of Legends universe that the Riot Forge publishing label has brought with it. If you asked me which champion I’d like to get a solo adventure, I doubt I’d even remember to put Nunu on the list.

Despite that brand loyalty, Song of Nunu struck me as maybe the first branch of the tree that I might be safe to skip entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater. Nunu is a perfectly fine pick when it comes to Riot's roster of fantasy archetypes and antiheroes. He’s just one that I’d only ever opt for when everyone else in my regular rotation of mages, marksmen and mavericks is either unavailable or exhausted.

To my surprise, Tequila Works’ (Deadlight, Rime, Gylt) take on the pint-sized arctic adventurer doesn’t just hold its own as a tribute and throwback to the action platformers of the PlayStation 2 but earns its place in conversation with them.

Song of Nunu isn’t just the best thing to come out of Riot’s Forge collaborations to date. It’s the best addition to Runeterra short of Arcane

Even if you’re not super familiar with the wider League of Legends universe, the scope of Song of Nunu is narrow enough that newcomers shouldn’t feel too bogged down by the lore and history attached to the characters involved.

The action here takes place in the frosty far reaches of the Freljord (one of the more remote regions in Riot’s fantasy setting of Runeterra) and centres on the exploits of the titular Nunu and his Chewbacca-like guardian, Wilump. At the outset, the pair are bound together on a quest to find an enigmatic relic known as the Heart of the Blue. However, this endeavour quickly leads them towards revelations about their respective histories and into conflict with one of the Freljord’s most formidable villains.

Tonally, the storytelling in Song of Nunu occupies a similar niche to the likes of Avatar: The Last Airbender or one of the better Pixar films. It’s very kid-friendly but it doesn’t necessarily speak down to that audience and older players are still able to engage with it for the most part (especially if they’re already bought in on Nunu & Wilump’s whole odd-couple shtick). At times, the writing here is so utterly earnest that I found my cynicism melting away every time I picked up my Switch to play more of it. 

The narrative here is one built on big and bold fantasy archetypes, though it’s often refreshingly unafraid to complicate them. It helps that Tequilla Works has honed in on and brought the world and characters involved to life in a way that feels economical and looks as good as it does.

There’s nothing in Song of Nunu that’s going push an RTX 4000 graphic card to its limits or come anywhere close to the hyper-stylised action in Arcane’s more intense sequences, but the overall look here is consistent and likable. Tequila Works deserves extra credit here for taking the limits that come with the setting as a jumping-off point for some engaging set-pieces and well-crafted environmental design rather than being constrained by it. It's straightforward to imagine a more rote and repetitive version of what's here.

Instead, the backdrop to the action in Song of Nunu is heavy on whimsy and surprisingly awe-inspiring in spots.

In motion, Song of Nunu looks about as good as your memory of the 3D platformers its inspired by do. The moment-to-moment gameplay here is as straightforward, streamlined and familiar. Levels are mostly linear, with each environment providing a fresh and interesting take on the mossy and tundra-like environs of the Frejlord.

Most of the action here involves platforming, but there’s a bit of combat and puzzles in the mix. There are even a few big boss fights and some stealth sections, which mostly manage to avoid the usual pitfalls. There are plenty of collectibles, but little in the way of character customisation and skill trees.

What stands out here isn’t necessarily the freshness of the action, but how tightly it is wound together. Nothing in Song of Nunu outstays its welcome. The puzzles aren’t super perplexing but the mechanics involved are satisfying to engage with for as long as they stick around. Again, what’s here isn’t a radical reinvention of this particular genre but well-executed and crafted as one of those on most fronts. 

The above might sound a little too game design 101 for some, but its easy to get hooked on the sense of forward momentum that Song of Nunu achieves. Every small step takes you closer to the next story beat. The narrative here is fairly lighthearted and told through a mix of cutscenes and in-game dialogue. It’s surprisingly game to lean in on some of the darker elements within both Nunu and Willump’s respective backstories. Again, it’s all too easy to imagine a version of this game that sands down those edges and delivers far less interesting and shallow results. 

Song of Nunu A League of Legends Story

Is Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story worth the money?

Where many modern action platformers move so fast that you can barely breathe, getting a moment to savour your surroundings and spent time watching Nunu and Willump’s relationship to that world develop can feel breathtaking in its own right. 

Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story is an unexpectedly brilliant addition to the Riot’s growing roster of titles set in Runeterra. It’s a throwback with classic 3D action-adventure gameplay, plenty of heart and enough smarts to know not to try and fix a formula that was never broken to begin with.

Song of Nunu: A League of Legends trailer

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What can I play Song of Nunu: A League of Legends on?

Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story is available from 2 November 2023 for PC and Nintendo Switch.

Fergus Halliday
Written by
Fergus Halliday is a journalist and editor for Reviews.org. He’s written about technology, telecommunications, gaming and more for over a decade. He got his start writing in high school and began his full-time career as the Editor of PC World Australia. Fergus has made the MCV 30 Under 30 list, been a finalist for seven categories at the IT Journalism Awards and won Most Controversial Writer at the 2022 Consensus Awards. He has been published in Gizmodo, Kotaku, GamesHub, Press Start, Screen Rant, Superjump, Nestegg and more.

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