Review: Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley (Nintendo Switch)

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley is a delightful adventure-puzzle game designed for the Nintendo Switch platform. It aims to offer players a soothing and enjoyable experience with its enchanting visual style, adorable characters, and music-inspired gameplay.

If you are unfamiliar with the Snufkin book series created by Finnish author Tove Jansson, you are not alone. This game served as my own introduction to the charming world of Moominvalley, although the characters seem to have a certain level of popularity in Japan, where I first encountered this game.

The story of Melody of Moominvalley begins in the transition from autumn to winter. You take on the role of Snufkin, a wandering human who forms friendships with the various creatures of Moominvalley. As the winter season approaches, Snufkin bids farewell to his closest companion, Moomintroll, a bear-like creature who waves goodbye from their usual meeting spot on the bridge. Upon Snufkin’s return to the forest after winter has passed, he discovers that things have changed and the animals are facing a new threat. To make matters worse, his dear friend Moomintroll is missing. It is up to Snufkin to set things right once again.

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley - Nintendo Switch - screen 1

The main objectives in the game involve locating Moomintroll and restoring the forest to its natural state. The areas surrounding the village have been transformed into parkland, displacing the critters from their homes.

An underlying environmental message is intertwined within the gameplay. As the village and surrounding forest are converted into parkland, Snufkin takes action by removing park signs and swiftly restoring the trees and grassy areas to their original state. Interestingly, the culprits responsible for this environmental disruption are not human; they appear to be the same species as Moomintroll, emphasizing the idea that anyone can contribute to environmental harm.

The gameplay mechanics involve exploration and solving simple puzzles to progress through the story. These puzzles may include tasks such as finding a key to unlock a gate, navigating around policemen to avoid capture, collecting items to build a raft, or participating in a leaf racing competition down a stream. The objectives are clearly outlined and marked as complete once finished, offering a relaxed and straightforward gaming experience without the pressure of lives or hearts. This accessibility makes the game suitable for players of all ages, with a variety of challenges to maintain engagement.

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To accomplish these tasks, the protagonist Snufkin utilizes various musical instruments. Starting with a harmonica, Snufkin gains access to additional instruments as he advances in the game. These instruments play a vital role in communicating with the different creatures in the game world. Music is often used to solve puzzles, manipulate creatures, or motivate them to assist Snufkin. This unique gameplay element is executed effortlessly through the ZR button, allowing players to enjoy the sweet melodies while exploring the captivating world.

Snufkin’s character is a noteworthy aspect of the game, contributing to its overall charm. He is depicted as a hero and a wandering musician who drifts through the changing seasons. Despite being taken advantage of by other characters due to his helpful nature, Snufkin remains wise and kind-hearted, always striving to do the right thing. His character adds depth to the storyline, incorporating humor and touching moments along the way.

The game’s visuals are beautifully crafted, resembling illustrations from a storybook. The muted color palette of greens and blues enhances the melancholic tone of the game, reflecting the emotional depth of Snufkin’s musical instruments. This artistic choice effectively captures the essence of the source material and enriches the player’s experience.

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In conclusion, Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley offers a leisurely adventure filled with enchantment. The combination of a storybook narrative, musical elements, and environmental themes creates a unique and engaging gameplay experience. While it may not be a lengthy game, it delivers an enjoyable journey that resonates with players long after they have completed it.