Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story

Raúl Rubio on Tequila Works' Song of Nunu: premise, inspiration, and magic

Riot Forge's next League of Legends Story releases in 2022 and here we talk about the adventure of Nunu and Willump.

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After releasing Hextech Mayhem and The Ruined King at the tail end of 2021, Riot Forge's most anticipated game is Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story. Created by Madrid-based Tequila Works and releasing in 2022 already, it'll be the third game expanding the lore of Runeterra with a single player approach, but this time it will leave the rhythm platformer and turn-based RPG genres aside to focus on pure adventure, puzzles, and fantasy. Talking with creative director Raúl Rubio at Fun & Serious Game Festival we wanted to learn more about both the game and the inspirations that go beyond Rime, the studio's previous hit.

"Song of Nunu is a game about friendship, innocence and hope", expands Rubio upon Riot Forge's Andrew Hoffacker's own definition. So yeah, the goal with Song of Nunu was not creating a game about Nunu or trying to follow the trend... [Together with Willump] in League of Legends they're basically one character. Yeah you have Nunu riding this mighty yeti, but I mean you're controlling Willump, of course. And Nunu is there as some kind of comic relief, right? But the bond is there, and that was really interesting for us. That was what we wanted to explore in this game. It's not having some kind of master-slave relationship, it's not having an extension of yourself that is just following your commands, it's more like, well, you have two characters that need to work together to basically live the biggest adventure ever, the biggestest adventure ever, as Nunu would say, and that was the challenge and the opportunity, and boy we took it".


The Last Guardian meets Zelda: Ocarina of Time?

Rubio believes "the relationship is really adorable and emotional", which brought up memories of the also loveable The Last Guardian. With that, and the magical flute referred to in the trailer, we asked about Fumito Ueda and Zelda influences. In terms of the former, after all, Team ICO heavily inspired Tequila Works and Rime in the past, and both Ueda and Rubio know each other since 2017, when the Japanese designer praised the Spanish game.

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"It's not a secret that we put a lot of attention to audio, probably because in past experiences, in our studios everyone tended to forget about the audio department, but it's 50% of the experience", promises Rubio. "At Tequila Works we try to go deeper and touch your heart. So of course we use different resources and the most obvious one is the visuals, and the choices of colour mood and palettes, and basically the emotional journey that is slowly unravelling during the game, but audio and music are of course the other half. It's there to take your hand and slowly get you in the mood, thanks to millennia of social engineering that the human... nah I'm kidding (laughs). So yes, I'm glad that you noticed it and the music is really, really important in Song of Nunu, so I think we will announce more about it in the near future, because it's something I'd love to talk about".

The importance of Willump

Now, we have these two characters and their bond, but coming from League of Legends, who is Willump and what can players expect to actually do with him in Song of Nunu?

"We wanted that counterbalance between a super fragile, innocent, little boy and a super mighty beast that could rip you in half if it wanted"

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"We usually describe Willump as the biggest teddy bear ever", Rubio explains. "But, to be honest, it's true that he's that huge, fluffy, huggable character, but that's because Nunu is imagining him that way. Let's not forget that there's a magical bond between them. In fact, Willump looks like it looks because of Nunu. So, yetis are mythical creatures even in Runeterra, and there is a reason for that, of course. Basically, Willump is probably one of the last yeti and, if you know the lore, there are yetis like the ones you can pretend to find in the Himalayas here on Earth".

"So, Willump is a magical yeti that can use true ice magic. We wanted that counterbalance between a super fragile, innocent, little boy and a super mighty beast that could rip you in half if it wanted, but, of course Willump is very wise and very old. So, I'm going to regret this comparison, but it's more like Bud Spencer and Terence Hill where one is big and grumpy and the other is very cheerful and hyperactive, but more innocent."


The balance between beauty and craziness

Talking about how Nunu sees Willump, and thinking about previous Tequila works, we finally wanted to learn more about the balance Raúl talks about in the trailer.

"In any Tequila Works game you can only expect the unexpected, which is like the Spanish Inquisition, I guess..." Rubio jokes. "But, it's true! I mean, if you look at our games, they all look very different on the surface. Different art style, different genres, different platforms... But they all share common elements. That's true to Song of Nunu, too. We tend to not take ourselves very seriously. We're aware of basically the ambiguity in the world, where basically not all is black or white, good or evil. But, at the same time, we don't pretend to be meaningless or insane for the sake of... Wohoo! Cool! Cows flying! It's a very thin red line where we are walking. Because, if you go too much to one side or the other, you're going to create the grinchy kind of reaction from the player".

"The plot here is a triangle between Nunu, Willump and Lissandra. And all of them have faced this loss in the past..."

"So, if I could describe, without spoiling the story of Song of Nunu, where is the beauty and the craziness here, I would say that basically the plot here is a triangle between Nunu, Willump and Lissandra. And all of them have faced this loss in the past, and all of them are touched by the same fate, all of them took very different decisions and choices about that and they all have very different views about it. When they are together, the three of them, they can share something, and I'm not going to say if it's good or bad, or something in the middle. But in most stories, and this is something we tend to feel very comfortable with, we love small, intimate stories where you can possibly get super close and personal with the characters and discover where their humanity lies. Again, I mentioned that I love the wrinkles, probably not in a literal way, but what I mean is that all characters need flaws, because otherwise they are just idols, you can not identify with someone who is perfect, right? Or totally imperfect. So, we tried to see these characters in a new light and we're trying to show them, how they are in a way that you could never see in League of Legends, for obvious reasons. I guess Arcane, on Netflix, is a good example of that, where you are seeing characters you know and love, but in a very different light."

Song of Nunu will release in 2022 in all major platforms on a yet TBA exact date. Tequila Works turned 12 a couple of months ago after releasing the likes of Gylt, Rime, Groundhog Day, Sexy Brutale, or Deadlight. They're finishing the development of Song of Nunu for Riot Forge, keep working on another project in parallel, and have started a new project.

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