Jusant, from Dontnod Entertainment, grabbed me from the first reveal trailer. Its beautiful artstyle and the mystery of it all had me itching for the release. After playing through the whole story and doing plenty of exploring, what i found was a richly detailed world, full of little stories.
The place you find yourself in is an arid desert. The worlds water has dried up and civilisation finds itself chasing an old wives tale about “ballasts” that will bring it back. In the distance an imposing tower of rock lurches into the sky, breaching the clouds. This is where your adventure begins.
The game introduces the climbing mechanics and teaches you the fundamentals of rock climbing. You anchor yourself to a base point, find your hand and foot holds and it’s a simple case of alternating between LT and RT whilst pushing the left stick in the direction you want to go. It adds additional skills like creating anchor points mid climb, loading jumps and double jumps, as well as rope swinging and wall running. You’ll do a bit of abseiling as well, as you clamber all over the gorgeous environments.
The hand holds and routes are clearly defined, but never presented in a way that looks unnatural. It’s such an elegant system and once you get into the flow, it’s such a zen experience. The hand holds and routes are clearly defined, but never presented in a way that looks unnatural Stringing everything together perfectly, and clearing a complicated section at speed without stopping always brought a smile to my face and a sense of accomplishment. Making leaps of faith always got my heart racing as well.
Now, I don’t want to spoil the story as its worth experiencing it blind. All you really need to know is you’re going to the top, and you’re hoping you find an answer to the planets absence of water. It’s the other stories you find along the way that flesh out the history of this forgotten civilisation on the rockface. We get tales of happier times, desires to explore the wasteland for new homes. You’ll hear of relationships breaking down and the struggles the people went through as the water slowly dried up. There are also diary pages from a previous expedition which are worth seeking out.
Exploration is a joy and always gives you something worthwhile to find. Between the collectables and the environmental storytelling, you’re given a bit more of an understanding of what life was like here. I especially liked the echoes of the past that could be found. These play out like those diorama scenes you get in museums. The ones where they play sounds in the background and pump smells into the area. They were lovely little moments of calm, be it soothing windchimes or the sounds of people toiling in the fields.
Visually, its outstanding and the game speaks for itself with a gorgeous artsyle. The lighting in particular is excellent. Outdoor areas are bathed in sunlight and cast some lovely looking shadows. Indoor areas are dark, but welcome you in with warm torchlight painting the walls. One area later on had me strolling through an area lit with neon coral. It was here I just stopped and stared for a bit. There were so many moments where this happened and my screenshots probably don’t do it justice. There is so much detail packed into every area – discarded work tools, abandoned cafes and homesteads. Even the simple caves are packed with coral, shells and barnacles.
The audio is also a highlight and I’d recommended wearing headphones for this one. It’s generally a quiet game, but I felt that it fit with the tone. You’ll mainly be accompanied by the sound of your own footsteps or the occasional grunts as you climb the walls. This is all backed up by a great soundtrack that’s used sparsely, but in all the right places.
If you hadn’t already guessed, I really enjoyed my time with Jusant. The controls felt perfect, and the presentation was fantastic. However, I do have a few caveats with regards to recommending it. If you just beeline it to the top and skip all the extra stuff you will have a different experience. Taking your time and slowly prodding the environment for stories is essential to rounding out the whole game. The main story is predictable, but it’s the way it unfolds that I enjoyed the most. Go play it!
- Predictable main story