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Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley review – a fleeting tour of Tove Jansson’s beguiling world
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Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley review – a fleeting tour of Tove Jansson’s beguiling world


Unfortunately, I am currently suffering from a severe cold. However, playing Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley has significantly improved my condition. It is like a soothing mixture of honey and lemon, along with the comforting warmth of a hot-water bottle. This game is filled with goodness and warmth, but it also carries a sense of uniqueness and sadness, which is a defining characteristic of the Moomins and a major factor contributing to the lasting popularity of Tove Jansson’s beloved characters. It is a combination of strange, melancholic, and delightful elements that make this game a wholesome and eerie experience.

The story follows Snufkin, a wandering philosopher, as he returns to Moominvalley in the spring to reunite with his best friend, Moomintroll. However, his path is blocked by a park managed by police officers. The Hemulen park keeper has expanded his authority and created strict rules for the gardens in Moominvalley. Angry at this unnatural interference with nature, Snufkin starts removing the signs. Eventually, all the signs are gone and the policemen leave since there are no longer any rules to enforce. This allows Snufkin to restore the area to its natural state by removing paving slabs and fences.

The main storyline of the game centers around a conflict between the player’s character, Snufkin, and the park keeper. There are multiple parks where Snufkin must carefully avoid being spotted by patrolling police officers while destroying signs. Snufkin utilizes his trusty harmonica to charm animals and solve puzzles, and later gains a flute and drum as additional tools. However, while the use of musical instruments to interact with the game world is unique, there is not much other innovation in this aspect. Players are given a list of tasks to complete, such as finding specific items or characters, and there are also familiar stealth gameplay sections, a commonly used trope in many other games.

Full of goodness and warmth … Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley

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However, at its core, this serves as a guide through the various characters and settings in the Moomin universe. While the plot is unique, it is loosely inspired by events in the 1954 novel Moominsummer Madness. Despite this, the game stays true to Tove Jansson’s original writings by accurately portraying her stunning illustrations and including references to events from all of her novels.

In the beginning, readers are introduced to the terrifying Groke, who has the ability to freeze fire simply by sitting on it. Soon after, a small unnamed creature joins Snufkin on his journey. Toffle is also present, but too scared to leave his tree. Other characters, such as Too-Ticky, Mrs Fillyjonk, Snorkmaiden, and the Hattifatteners, also make appearances. Fans of Jansson’s work will be thrilled by these cameos, but those unfamiliar with the names will still appreciate the charm of Melody of Moominvalley. This book is set in a world of children’s stories, inhabited by deeply flawed adults. It is a blend of the bizarre and the satirical. Mrs Fillyjonk is the epitome of a helicopter parent and Snufkin has been fighting for the environment long before the term “ecowarrior” was even coined.

It is oddly sorrowful. The characters seem to be consumed with their own personal issues and fixations, leaving them incapable of experiencing true happiness. Yet, their ability to surpass their struggles and coexist despite their differences makes this world inspiring. Choosing Sigur Rós for the music, which is simultaneously uplifting and melancholic, is truly genius.

Melody of Moominvalley is simple and unchallenging, and also disappointingly short – you can see almost everything within a day’s play. And yet it’s all put together with such care that it’s difficult to begrudge these shortcomings. The licence is everything: spending a short time in a faithfully evoked version of Tove Jansson’s strange and memorable world is worth the entrance fee.

Source: theguardian.com