Also on: PC, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Don’t Nod
Developer: Don’t Nod
When I wrote about my impressions of Jusant back in the summer, I came away mildly interested in the game. Even if Jusant seemed to be focused on climbing – almost to the exclusion of everything else – between the bits and pieces of backstory you pick up and Don’t Nod’s history of games with strong stories, I wondered how the game would eventually wind up.
The short answer, now that it’s out: pretty much identical. If you love climbing, then you’ll love Jusant.
I have to admit, though, it doesn’t do all that much for me. I’ve always found climbing to be one of the more tedious parts of games,but Jusant’s more realistic approach to climbing is what makes it especially dull. While I can certainly imagine some people finding the slow, laborious nature of it meditative – fun, even – for me I just found it frustrating to spend so much time focusing on controlling my right and left arms. No matter how long I played, I could never quite get into the rhythm of slowly, gradually, pulling my way upwards, one hand hold at a time. Add in the need to keep an eye on your stamina and the use of pitons, and I quickly found it to be a bit of a chore.
My other big complaint is that it can sometimes be very easy to manoeuvre yourself into an impossible position. Partway through the first chapter, for example, I jumped onto a ledge, and unlatched my carabiner – only to immediately discover that by doing so, I’d made it impossible to move anywhere else. Since the game also makes it impossible for you to fall off ledges (more on that in a second), I had to restart from the previous checkpoint. I didn’t lose a massive amount of progress, but it still happened enough that it became a source of frustration.
And, I have to admit, the fact you couldn’t fall kind of took me out of Jusant. I know that it wouldn’t fit in with the laidback vibe the game is going for to have your character plummet to their death, but the invisible walls also take away from the immersion, too.
Of course, the flipside of all of the above is that if you go into Jusant wanting nothing more than to climb without the danger inherent in the activity, it’s clearly a great opportunity to do that. Its goal is to offer you a meditative experience while taking in some breathtaking scenery, and it very clearly does that. Since you don’t have to worry about falling and breaking every bone in your body, the game offers you plenty of chances to simply dangle from the face of an enormous mountain and take in the world. Add in a story that’s told via artifacts left behind by previous inhabitants, and you have plenty of opportunities to simply be in this world.
I have no doubt that some people are absolutely going to love Jusant – but it’s definitely not for me. If you’re a fan of climbing, you’ll find plenty to love here, but I found it all too frustrating to ever get lost in the game.
Don’t Nod provided us with a Jusant PS5 code for review purposes.