Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley brings together two iconic Nordic exports to tell its story

Thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and God of War (2018), when most people think of the Nordic countries, they immediately leap to Norse mythology. While that’s no bad thing because it’s good stuff, it’s easy to forget there’s more to celebrate from the region. That’s something Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley might fix, so long as the game is good. Obviously.

Depending on your age, you may or may not recognize the Moomins, if not by name, then certainly by their look. But if you are unfamiliar, they’re white creatures that look a lot like hippos – despite actually being trolls – created by Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson. 

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley brings together two iconic Nordic exports to tell its story

Snuffkin: Melody of Moominvalley pays homage to the creator

Melody of Moominvalley wanted to capture the essence of Jansson’s art style, and the result is something that looks pretty distinctive compared to most things you could buy right now. And interestingly, it’ll likely appear retro to fans of the Moomins, while the storybook aesthetic might seem fresh to those unfamiliar.

In Melody of Moominvalley, you play as the titular Snufkin, who isn’t actually one of the hippo-like trolls. Instead, he’s a wandering nomad with a penchant for playing the harmonica. In the story, he embarks on a mission to restore harmony to Moominvalley after parks that destroy the place’s natural beauty start popping up everywhere. 

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley brings together two iconic Nordic exports to tell its story

To do so, he’ll need to distract police officers so he can tear out signs and knock over statues. All in the name of restoring the natural beauty of Moominvalley. So, in gameplay terms, that means you can expect a sprinkling of stealth and puzzle-solving. Some of those will involve Snufkin’s harmonica, which he uses to befriend the wildlife he’ll encounter throughout his journey.

Beautiful post-rock from Sigur Rós

And that musical leaning Melody of Moominvalley has is where our second Nordic export comes in. The game will feature music from the Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, specifically tracks from their third album () – no, that’s not a typo. Chances are you have heard Sigur Rós, even if you weren’t consciously aware of it. The band’s biggest song, Hoppípolla, was used in Planet Earth, Slumdog Millionaire, and numerous adverts.

They make lovely music that’s often fairly melancholy, which is the vibe developer Hyper Games is going for. They have described Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley as a cozy adventure, making Sigur Rós the perfect collaboration, in my opinion. If everything pairs up nicely it could elevate the experience as well, as music is great at stirring emotions.

An understanding of the relationship between music and gameplay

People’s appreciation for what music can do in games has grown in the past year and that’s thanks to the Nordic regions. Finland specifically. Remedy’s Alan Wake 2’s use of Poets of the Fall’s alter ego – Old Gods of Asgard – catapulted the survival horror’s popularity to the point that the band played Herald of Darkness at The Game Awards. Although, I’d argue the group had better songs in the same game. 

Now, I’m not saying we can expect to see a Moomin and Jónsi Birgisson standing next to Geoff Keighly in December. In fact, I hope we don’t. However, it is nice to see multiple Nordic developers valuing the importance of the relationship between music and gameplay. Especially since, for my money, it’s where some of the best music in the world is being made.

Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley will launch on March 7th for Nintendo Switch and Steam.

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This Article was written by: Stephen Gregson-Wood