Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley — Sweet summer days

Alright, full disclaimer — proud owner of several of Tove Jansson’s beautiful Moomin books, Moomin tattoo. I love these weird little melancholic creatures! Who doesn’t? So I approached Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley with a lot of excitement. Finally, a lovely Moomin game!

Starting it up you’re greeted to the beautiful sounds of Untitled 1 by Sigur Ros. So I think — ah, I am being profoundly targeted. These visuals! So reminiscent of Jansson’s work, so full of colour and vivacity and life. Then you tear down signs and insult the cops. So far, so phenomenal. Snufkin puts an incredibly strong foot forward, proceeds to skip merrily with it.

The opening half of the game is very strong. The ambience is precious, and strikes that balance of natural reverence, heartened summer adventure and the gentlest traces of sadness the books delivered in spades. It is just so very charming! All the characters rendered perfectly, as they were on the page. Moominpappa’s neuroses, Moominmamma’s doting nature, Little My’s… she’s definitely here! 

And Snufkin — he is a treat. Little mischievous, warmhearted and ever curious lad that he is. He’s the perfect protagonist for what amounts to a light bit of eco-terrorism and vandalism, one which encourages you to look around the world and simply breathe it in. 

The message is timely — as it was then, as it is now. We need to respect our world, and leave it well enough alone — whether this is through a well meaning park keeper, or another petrol drinking SUV. Snufkin emphasises the need to stop and gaze at nature, the meditative qualities of simply being in a moment, and the joys of annoying cops.

I wish I could continue waxing lyrical about Snufkin, but… Honestly, it felt as if it ran out of steam. Towards the end of the game, I found it becoming a touch one note, both thematically and in terms of gameplay. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a simple game executed with aplomb, and its brisk 3.5 hour run time allows for that, it simply isn’t the case here. There’s a lack of evolution and expansion in the mechanics and story, it just kind of… potters along and ends.

It ends sweetly, as expected, but it just didn’t quite nail the final stretch for me. As may be plain from the text of the review, I’m not entirely sure why this is the case — I wager that the simple gameplay simply didn’t quite hold up for the playtime. 

However, I absolutely do not regret the time spent, and I would recommend this special game in a heartbeat to anyone. Its prescience, its warmth and its curiosity win out above the slight repetition, and it coalesces in this beautiful little slice of game which really makes you want to go out, chew a bit of grass and lay back in the sun with a harmonica.

Or at least, when the weather clears up. Thanks England.

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley is available on Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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