snufkin melody of moominvalley review
Screenshot by Destructoid

Review: Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley

A charming, sustainable, and cozy adventure.

I grew up being absolutely terrified of the Moomins. I have no idea what it is about them, they just creeped me out. It wasn’t until I saw the world through my daughter’s eyes that I sat down and took in the stories of these fantastical characters who are just strange enough to pull you in, but stay grounded enough to engross you.

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Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley follows the titular character as he returns to Moominvalley after wandering over the winter. The valley, a peaceful haven for nature and the Moomins’ sustainable lifestyle has changed, though. Nature has been organized and contained, and Snufkin’s best friend, Moomintroll, is nowhere to be found.

melody of moominvalley play in snufkin melody of moominvalley
Screenshot by Destructoid

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley (PC, Switch [Reviewed], PS5, and Xbox Series X/S)
Developer: Hyper Games
Publisher: Raw Fury
Released: March 7, 2024 (Switch & PC), PS5 & Xbox Series X/S in the future
MSRP: $17.99

The introduction is a slow build to a fairly large adventure across the entire valley. It feels very much akin to the opening of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Indeed, the gameplay follows suit with a character-first approach to storytelling and a gorgeous art style that’s regularly jaw-dropping and laid bare for players to admire as long as they want.

Over the handful of hours it takes to finish this adventure, you’ll control Snufkin as he explores Moominvalley and restores nature to its former glory. A parkkeeper has shown up and thinks he can organize the chaos he sees with a police force in place to keep everyone out of his gardens.

snufkin and sea monster snufkin melody of moominvalley
Screenshot by Destructoid

There’s no combat in Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley, though. This is a musical adventure in which the player’s only tools are instruments that are slowly unlocked over the course of the story. Each one can be played to interact with animals and obstacles around the world, opening paths for puzzle solving, platforming, and collecting everything required to complete the decent selection of quests found throughout.

At first, I felt the game was rather linear. Attempting to hide the fact behind a gated open world that’s really just an illusion. That’s not entirely the case, with some quests being secret or completely optional, and there’s a fantastic openness to the path players can take that allows for loads of time spent exploring and uncovering items or gaining experience.

Over the course of the story, you’ll need to level Snufkin’s musical ability up by interacting with nature and solving small puzzles. These, as I mentioned already, are optional and aren’t telegraphed. You can steamroll the story and hit a wall where an interaction requires a higher level of playing. But it pays to take the time to explore, climb the trees and play to the birds, guide that bee to its hive, and really engage with the purity of nature in Moominvalley as the developer so clearly intended us to do.

This level system starts out feeling arbitrary, but once you’re midway through the game, you realize that you really do need to do everything you can to gain experience if you want to progress without hitting a stopping point. It’s never a chore, though, and fits perfectly with the vibes of the Moomins in every way. These are creatures who understand they must work to a point, but they also know the value of rest and relaxation, and that’s what this game feels like.

spider in snufkin melody of moominvalley
Screenshot by Destructoid

One aspect of the game I really adore is its viewpoints. These aren’t parts of the map you have to visit to uncover the fog of war. They’re areas where you can have Snufkin sit and look out at some part of Moominvalley. They’re animated works of art, and they’re stunning. They also speak to the game’s focus on taking your time and seeing what the world has to offer in every sense, not just bashing through a quick story.

While playing for review, I accidentally stayed up far too late because I didn’t want to leave Moominvalley. The world is perfect, like a nature reserve that keeps on going. I used to live next to one of these, and I had regular moments when I’d discover a new path, stream, or bird living there.

Despite walking through it daily during the worst location for COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK, I was always surprised, and Moominvalley is exactly the same. You can tread that path dozens of times, but sometimes you’ll take a new turn and find something new, even though you thought you’d mapped the world out already.

The story is mellow, the world is vibrant yet relaxing, and the characters are quirky and fun in a way only possible thanks to the well-established Moomin universe. However, this isn’t a game that’s going to push you in terms of reactions, agility, and puzzle-solving. It’s extremely chill, almost vertical, but a game I think is essential as a palette cleanser following something much more intense.

park in snufkin melody of moominvalley
Screenshot by Destructoid

Unfortunately, the game has some framerate issues in specific areas of the map. On Nintendo Switch, these caused the world to stagger as I moved through it, but just a little bit. It was enough for me to notice it, but not so much that it was game-breaking or ruined my experience. I’ve no doubt that this could be fixed after launch, but I have no details on whether it will be.

The slow pace of Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley isn’t for everyone, and I think that’s okay. If you just want a game that’s going to hold your hand a little and won’t kill you over and over again, it’s very much worth your time.

My favorite part is the parks, which are criminally underused, in my opinion. These transform the game into a top-down stealth title where Snufkin has to get around policemen and remove signs to clear the location. Visually, it’s right out of Ocarina of Time, but the way it plays is very fresh.

Instead of just moving between each policeman, Snufkin has to play music to convince the creatures in the park to help him distract them. Once they’re out of the way or otherwise occupied, he can remove a sign or get to a new section of the park. These are the most satisfying sections to play through, and thankfully, they’re all part of the main story.

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley is a game I reckon every Nintendo Switch owner must play. While it was a little too cold to do this for the review, I think playing this game in the summer sun while lying in a hammock is probably the ultimate way to dive into it. It’s built to be played curled up in bed or on the sofa with a warm cup of something sweet.

sky in snufkin melody of moominvalley
Screenshot by Destructoid

This is a game you want to rush through and see in its entirety, but you also play slowly because you don’t want your time to be over with it. There aren’t many games I long to forget as soon as I’ve finished them so I can relive that first playthrough, but this is one of them.

If you’re waiting for bigger and better games, like Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, then this is a nice short experience to fill your time that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and warm your heart.

A calm, cozy experience you can really immerse yourself in for a few hours while shutting out the world and enjoying somewhere somewhat strange yet utterly comforting.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

Impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.

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Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie is a Staff Writer on Destructoid who has been playing video games for the better part of the last three decades. He adores indie titles with unique and interesting mechanics and stories, but is also a sucker for big name franchises, especially if they happen to lean into the horror genre.