STAFF REVIEW of Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story (Xbox One)

Friday, July 5, 2024.
by Adam Dileva

Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story Box art I’ll be the first to admit that I’m absolutely terrible at MOBA’s and this is why I could never get into League of Legends (LoL or League for short), even at its height of popularity. Because of that, I’m generally blissfully unaware of much of its lore and characters, save for a few. While I may not know many of the League characters and backgrounds, there are a few of the more popular ones I do recognize, two of which would be Nunu and Willump.

Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story takes the popular duo from League of Legends and gives them their own single player story-based game. Developed by Tequila Works, Song of Nunu follows Nunu and Willump as they explore the vast lands of Freljord, showcasing their friendship with a lighthearted platforming adventure that really made me enjoy the characters. You don’t need any prior League of Legends knowledge to thoroughly enjoy Song of Nunu, though fans will surely enjoy seeing a few other popular character cameos along their travels.

You are a young Notai boy, Nunu, and the game opens with you struggling in a massive whiteout blizzard searching for your best friend, Willump, who happens to be a cuddly and adorable yeti. This duo of best friends are searching for a magical object called The Heart of the Blue, something Nunu’s mother told him about. As you explore the world of Freljord, a beautiful story unfolds through the special bond between the two friends. With Nunu’s mother also missing, he believes that The Heart of the Blue will guide them to her, so they set off on their wondrous adventure.

While the land of Freljord is beautiful at times, it can also be treacherous, especially the closer they get to their goal of heading towards the Winged Mountain and cross paths with the ice witch, Lissandra. Nunu has vivid dreams about his mother every night, acting as a guide of sorts, but he’s unaware that Lassandra is also always in the background, observing and listening. Unsure what The Heart of the Blue actually is, he only recalls being told by his mother that it’s a weapon of sorts, a way to battle the darkness and cold. Nunu and Willump are determined and will stop at nothing to be successful in their quest.

Being a young boy, Nunu of course wants to play and has a spunky personality, so it’s not uncommon for him and Willump to stop what their doing at certain points to have a quick snowball fight to crown a champion. There are a few different difficulty options to choose from when starting your adventure, even a Story mode where you can’t take any damage in combat, so anyone should be able to complete their adventure, regardless of skill.

A platformer at its core, Song of Nunu will have your duo exploring a large area of Freljord, even if it is quite linear in nature. You’ll be jumping across gaps, freezing waterfalls to climb, and even sledding down a huge pathway from areas as you get closer to Winged Mountain. There’s also some light puzzle elements where Nunu can use his instrument to play a handful of different notes and songs.

Along the way you’ll meet a cast of characters, that if you’re familiar with League of Legends, you’ll surely recognize. Be on the lookout for Braum, Ornn, Volibear and Lissandra, sure to bring a smile to your face if you’re familiar with the cast.

Portions of the game will have you controlling Nunu on his own as he makes his way through smaller areas Willump can’t pass, or maybe climbing somewhere to raise a platform for his best friend to catch up. Willump is smart enough to follow along to show you where to go in these parts, so thankfully there’s no needing to babysit your furry friend. The majority of the time though, Willump will snatch you up so you can ride on his shoulder or back, controlling him to carry you both across larger jumps, fighting enemies, or climbing frozen ice walls.

The majority of the game I absolutely was enjoying myself thoroughly, but in the last portion there’s a stealth element introduced that was a constant source of frustration for me. This last chapter made sense narratively as to why Nunu had to sneak and not be seen, using distractions to get guards to path or look away, but it just slowed down the momentum the rest of the game had to a crawl. That said, the few boss fights were done quite well, with the final showdown being a good challenge yet fun to do.

When the duo isn’t climbing and exploring caves, Nunu will need to put his instrument to good use to solve some puzzles. Your flute can be played with a number of different notes, designated by the bumpers, triggers, and combinations of both. The first few puzzles do guide you through what each symbol means, with arrow or square like symbols, but after a while you’ll need to experiment and simply remember what button corresponds with what note to play.

I’ll admit, this was frustrating for the first handful of puzzles where I simply had to trial and error my way through remembering the combinations, but if you take a few moments to look at the symbols, they do make sense in a way (arrows pointing left means Left Trigger for example). Later on, the songs you play are comprised of six to eight notes or so, needing to be played in the correct order to progress. Eventually I was practically fluent in Nunu’s instrument, playing songs with ease in a matter of seconds.

While there’s not a lot of combat, you’ll mainly be facing off against wolves and other animals that seem to have been corrupted. You have Light and Heavy attacks and a dodge. Once their health is low enough you can perform a finisher by holding ‘Y’, giving a flashy scene with a number of different variations of the best friends defeating said enemy.

Freljord is a gorgeous world of open valleys, ice caves, and numerous vistas to take plenty of screenshots of. Character design is what you’d expect being from League, and the overall aesthetic is quite colorful, bright and friendly. The voice acting across the board was done fantastically, and even though Willump can’t speak, you could still elicit what emotions he was trying to convey with Nunu. The soundtrack is just as whimsical as you’d expect and complimented the lighthearted adventure perfectly.

Nunu and Willump’s adventure was simply a joy watching them interact with each other, and the fact that you can go and hug Willump anytime you want with a button press makes it all that much more adorable. While some story segments I saw coming a mile away, it didn’t matter, as I was smiling the whole way through (until the stealth section at the end anyway).

Even with very minimal knowledge of League of Legends, that didn’t matter at all as a newcomer to its world, lore and characters. Nunu and Willump are an adorable duo of inseparable best friends that I’d enjoy to have more adventures with. If this is the start of more League single player adventures with their more charismatic characters, count me in for each one.

**Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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