Tuesday , May 28 2024

Videogame Review: ‘Jusant’ – A Joyful, Solitary Narrative Climbing Experience

The expanse of this journey is almost beyond belief; my training and determination continues to get me me higher but I fear I will not make it. In those moments I pause and take a moment to look around, down and up.

There is always further to go, but each peak passed, each settlement explored, each obstacle overcome makes me more eager to press on. When I feel isolated, alone, lost, I only need to reach to Ballast for comfort.

They are a source of calm and direction and share in the wonder as I explore section after section of this abandoned tower. It is pre-Jusant, here before the tide receded, and their legacy, tales and remains keep me going, until the end. Just need to get to the end.

This the experience of Jusant, the latest gem from Don’t Nod, where the only task is to climb and keep climbing. Despite the relatively simple premise, this is a game that continually challenged and delighted me, and kept me in a state of awe from start to finish.

Jusant is set in a barren world where all the water has receded. The task is to climb a massive tower that used to be underwater at times as tides ebbed and flowed. Now the entire tower is exposed, leaving structures, fossilized coral, shipwrecks and glimmers of the people who had lived there.

How this environment changed so drastically is revealed in bits and pieces as transcripts and messages are discovered throughout the game. Shells are also found which add a memory of past moments through their echoes in a hauntingly beautiful flashback of sights and sounds.

The only real gameplay in Jusant is climbing, and Don’t Nod implemented this in such an elegant way that it has to be seen to be believed. All surfaces can be scaled when handholds are available, and some can be created with environmental effects.

Multiple surface types, creatures you can grip, gusts of wind and growing surfaces that trigger via a pulse from Ballast are all options for gripping as you ascend the tower. Literally every new environment or area I reached felt like there was a mix of natural and manmade climbing points, which meshed so well with the narrative.

What was truly innovative, and a welcome feature, is that a rope is automatically secured as soon as a surface is climbed. This eliminates any deaths or critical failures and instead introduces setbacks if dislodged from a climbing point.

This decision to make the journey relatively safe adds a very different vibe to Jusant then I have experienced in any other game this year. The game is about the journey to the top, not whether you will live or die – just the journey, and what is discovered on the way. It is a truly beautiful experience that enveloped me each time I picked up the controller.

Big parts of what make the game work are the stunning visuals and the ethereal soundtrack by Guillaume Ferran. The world is stunningly realized, each area filled with what feels like the remnants of a real working society. The music ebbs and flows as the journey progresses and I got goosebumps a few times as musical chords hit a crescendo at some key moments.

On the surface Jusant looks like a simple game, but the depth of detail throughout and the pure magic of the experience have stuck with me long after I finished playing. This is not a adrenaline-fueled AAA release; instead it is a beautiful and thoughtful journey that I truly hope as many people as possible get to experience.

We were provided a copy of Jusant by the games publisher for purposes of this review. Jusant is available right now for PC via Steam, Xbox Series X|S and Playstation 5

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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