Jusant impressions for PC, Xbox Series X, PS5

While there were plenty of interesting games shown in back in June at Xbox’s Games Showcase, one of the more intriguing ones was Jusant, the new game from Don’t Nod. While the developers have probably become best known for the narrative-heavy Life is Strange series, based on the reveal trailer Jusant seemed to find Don’t Nod returning back to their more action-oriented roots of Remember Me.

Now that I’ve had a chance to play through the early stages of Jusant in a preview build, I’m thinking there’s a reason why Don’t Nod has focused more on narrative than on adventure.

Part of the problem, I think, is that Jusant is built around an activity that’s very rarely exciting in gaming: climbing. While it’s a key part of games like Uncharted and God of War (at least the original ones) and Tomb Raider and…well, pretty much every action game ever, I can’t imagine many people would say it’s their favourite activity in any of those games. Having a whole game centred around climbing was always going to be a tough sell.

To complicate matters, Jusant tries to bring an element of realism to climbing. On the one hand, it’s nice to see a game where you can’t tell the exact path upwards by clearly marked ledges. On the other, it means there’s a lot of searching around and dangling against the edge of the mountain while you try to figure out where the game wants you to go next. That may fit in with the narrative the game is trying to build (and more on that in a moment), but it’s less compelling from an action perspective.

On top of that, the mechanics of the game are constantly reminding you of how much work is involved in climbing. The left and right shoulder buttons control your left and right arms, and you have to remember to set and reel in your line at each landing. It makes the game feel very methodical and mechanical – and again, while there may be a narrative reason for that, it can make the game feel like a bit of a chore.

That said, it’s not all bad news. The scenery is pretty fantastic, as you’d hope for an expect from a game like this. While you spend most of your time in Jusant focusing on the cliff walls in front of you, if you stop and take a look around, you’ll be treated to some breathtaking mountain shots.

Where Jusant shows a lot of promise is – as you’d expect from a game with this pedigree – is in its story. It’s doled out in bits and pieces here and there by objects scattered across the mountain, but the hints they offer are enough to make it seem like the game is building towards a bigger reveal. In this respect, all the climbing kind of works: it may be a little on the nose as metaphors go, but it feeds into the idea that Jusant is building towards something.

What that “something” is, however, is key. If Jusant is able to nail the landing and turn it into a really interesting, engaging story, then the build-up will be worth it. And if it doesn’t, it’ll feel like a lot of work for not nearly enough payoff. We’ll find out which is the case when Jusant comes out on PC, Xbox Series X, and PS5 later this fall.

Don’t Nod provided us with a Jusant PC code for preview purposes.