How ‘Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley’ Hit Its Anti-Authoritarian Stride

Snufkin said ACAB. OK, not literally “all cops are bastards.” Rather, the hero of Hyper Games’ Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley says things like, “If you remove all the signs in a park, the police officers leave.” Still, the message remains—and it’s getting noticed. Ever since the game hit Steam and Nintendo Switch, it has been pulling in devotees thanks to Snufkin’s proactive objections to finding his beloved Moominvalley overpoliced, reviving some of the 80-year-old franchise’s long-held philosophies for fans eager to share them on social media.

A family-friendly cozy game set in the world of legendary Finnish cartoonist Tove Jansson, Melody follows Snufkin’s iconic return to Moominvalley after a winter spent wandering the world. Moomintroll has disappeared; ever the optimist, he’d tried reasoning with the police, resulting in his indefinite arrest. Snufkin’s main objective is to undermine the Park Keeper, a haughty hemulen who wants to fill the valley with monoculture lawns, manicured hedge mazes, caged animals, a river-destroying dam, and an ocean of signs dictating how nature must be enjoyed.

Snufkin’s response to all this is to absolutely kick shit, laying waste to signage, evading the police, and dismantling fences, forcibly rewilding the degenerative parks with direct action.

Following the game’s March 7 release, players picked up on these themes almost immediately. In their review, Vulture called Snufkin “an adorable ecoterrorist” with “‘no gods, no masters’ energy.” On platforms like X, fans have celebrated his jovial fondness for criminality; on Reddit, his more explicit anarchist philosophy.

Make no mistake, these themes have been prevalent in Jansson’s work for years. Snufkin has been thumbing his nose at the Park Keeper since the 1950s, and people were making TikToks about his response to overpolicing back in 2021, too. Seeing these ideas in what is essentially a children’s game on the Switch, though, has brought them to light in a new way.

Not that this was exactly Hyper Games’ intent. When asked, Are Sundnes, the company’s cofounder and CEO, is not keen to enthuse upon a radical political agenda at the heart of the game. The game’s direction involved a conversation with the franchise’s rights holders, “Moomin Characters Ltd,” an organization chaired by Tove’s niece, Sophia Jansson, that oversees new Moomin content.

“It’s been very important for both them and us not to have us invent too many new things,” Sundnes says. “In one of the books Snufkin does remove park signs setting rules, and burns them all in a big fire, then electrocutes the Park Keeper with Hattifatteners … Even though Tove Jansson never wrote this exact story, I think it’s one that could have taken place in the canon of the Moomins.”

Generally, Sundnes says, Moomin characters don’t really take political stands on real-world issues—they’re not even aware of them. So, “we never set out to make any kind of political or environmentally themed game really,” he says. “All of those elements came from focusing on Snufkin’s character and Tove Jansson’s stories.”

While the police have been depicted as ineffectual, overenthusiastic, unnecessary, and antagonistic several times across the canon of the Moomin franchise, they are suitably well meaning for the genre, and have even resolved situations on occasion, albeit in part unknowingly.

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