Developer: DON'T NOD
Release Date: October 31, 2023
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: DON'T NOD
It takes a special kind of game to capture the essence of “curiosity.” Titles that come to mind are Ico and Journey, both games that provide players with a canvas to apply the colors that tell the story. It’s a minimalistic design choice that doesn’t always work, but in the case of the Don’t Nod-developed Jusant, I feel like they’ve managed to create a thoughtful and exciting experience that fits nicely alongside these greats.
Unlocking Curiosity: Jusant’s Unique Take on Gaming
Developer Don’t Nod, known for Life is Strange and other narrative-driven adventures takes a departure from their usual style in Jusant. They’ve ventured into uncharted territory as they attempt to convey a story without using words. From the very beginning, Jusant raises many questions about its world, the main character, and the peculiar blue creature he’s carrying. This intriguing start manages to instill a sense of anxiety as you take your initial steps toward ascending an enormous tower.
Jusant is an impressive display of game design, presenting something as mundane as climbing a mountain in a video game in a way that stirs curiosity and discovery.
Every inch you climb reveals more about the tower’s history. Through hidden texts scattered around the environments, you discover traces of humans looking for a means of survival, as well as themes of romance and loneliness. The text is the sole narrative tool in this story, left for those who choose to explore it. Nevertheless, the environments do an excellent job of conveying the hardships of the world.
Don’t Nod’s Narrative Shift: Exploring Jusant’s Wordless Storytelling
Jusant becomes a game in which you embark on a mysterious quest against all odds. Early on, you uncover ruins, interactable objects, and gate-like structures that may offer clues to save this post-apocalyptic world. There’s no explicit guidance telling the player to engage in these additional activities, so you can just as easily scale the tower without contemplating the world-building occurring around you.
The climbing system is an intriguing aspect. The developers have devised a way for players to use the controller’s Triggers as their hands to grip the tower and pull themselves up. While it might sound like it wouldn’t work or could come across as a gimmick, I can genuinely say that it functions brilliantly. You’re gradually introduced to the system as you learn to navigate the edge of a wall, and it becomes second nature in no time.
Scaling New Heights: Jusant’s Innovative Climbing System
To climb, you must place anchors, with a total of four at your disposal. While climbing, you’re free to go as high or far as you wish within reason, but you can use one of your pins to save yourself from a fall if facing a dangerous jump. Stamina is another factor to consider, as it depletes as you climb and can decrease more rapidly in certain situations. You can rest at any time to replenish your Stamina, but it only regenerates up to the maximum, so climbing indefinitely is not an option. Fortunately, there are resting areas, and I never had issues with running out of stamina.
Jusant strikes a harmonious balance between challenging gameplay and serene moments, allowing players to immerse themselves at their own pace.
Aside from climbing, you can use your rope to swing and propel yourself down caverns as you navigate the tower. The rope’s utility becomes more complex in the later chapters, but the game maintains its relaxing tone to offset any anxiety about being at such heights. Other gameplay elements revolve around your companion, Ballast, who can bring certain plants to life, trigger events, or provide direction. However, the navigation isn’t always the most intuitive, and I found myself getting lost several times. Occasionally, there are multiple paths to the same area and even sections of the game that lead to dead ends. Sadly, Ballast’s suggestions are not always helpful, sometimes just advising you to go upwards. Thanks, cheeky blue alien thing.
Unearthing Secrets: Jusant’s Environmental Storytelling Adventure
At its core, Jusant offers a rather relaxing experience that can be enjoyed at various paces. The climbing puzzles become more complex as the game progresses, but the developers do a great job of equipping you with the necessary skills to tackle the challenges. It’s an impressive display of game design, presenting something as mundane as climbing a mountain in a video game in a way that stirs curiosity and discovery.
With a runtime of around 7 hours, along with collectibles and hidden paths to explore, I believe there are reasons to revisit the tower. However, I also feel content after the credits roll. Jusant is an experience that encourages discussion among those who have played it. Its stunning design is evident in the player-controlled character and the explorable environment. The experience is enhanced by the sound design, which eases tension, allowing you to approach difficult situations with a clear mind. Memories scattered throughout the game showcase sounds from the past and provide hints about events that occurred before your arrival.
Jusant not only fuels your curiosity but also keeps you spellbound throughout its journey.
Jusant’s Enigmatic Odyssey: A Journey Beyond Climbing
Jusant marks a departure from Don’t Nod’s typical narrative-driven adventures, and it comes together brilliantly. As you ascend the towering landscapes, this journey reveals a mysterious world through intriguing hidden texts and captivating environments. Jusant strikes a harmonious balance between challenging gameplay and serene moments, allowing players to immerse themselves at their own pace. Despite occasional navigation challenges, the game’s overall design, ambient soundscapes, and subtle storytelling foster an experience that sparks conversation and contemplation. Jusant not only fuels your curiosity but also keeps you spellbound throughout its journey.
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