Jusant is something rather different from Don’t Nod, the developer best known for creating the Life is Strange franchise. But with games like Vampyr and Remember Me under its belt, we should already know to expect the unexpected from this versatile developer. A game all about climbing, Jusant manages to be both relaxing and challenging, and we’re all for it.
Launching 31st October on PlayStation, Xbox and PC, we’ve been lucky enough to go hands-on with Jusant, playing through its first couple of hours. Don’t expect a dry, realistic rock-climbing simulator: the locations you’ll find yourself in while playing Jusant are beautiful, somewhat magical and simply beg to be explored. And explore you will as you try to figure out the best route to reach the highest point.
Climbing in Jusant is meaningful and meticulous: the locations might not feel realistic, but the actions of climbing certainly do. Step foot off a flat surface and you’ll automatically anchor your rope besides you. Using your left and right triggers will allow you to move each of your hands, and the left thumb stick will direct your movement. You can power up a jump with A, but you’ll want to keep an eye on your stamina – and you’ll want to make sure you anchor your rope periodically as you’re climbing. The last thing you want is to fall too far.
While we’ve only seen a fraction of what Jusant has to offer, we’re enamoured with everything we’ve experienced so far. It’s a beautiful-looking game, sure, but it’s the act of climbing that really has us hooked – if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s repetitive, in a way: constantly peddling the triggers, looking up, left, right, pulling yourself from one foothold to another. But there’s something relaxing, meditative in the motion of it. Reaching a new ledge, getting to the next place you can catch your breath, always feels like an achievement. From there, you simply need to find the next route to take upwards. There might be multiple, so it’s up to you which way you’re going to head.
There’s an element of magic to Jusant. Your protagonist is accompanied by a wonderfully cute water sprite, who can interact with the environment. See a big flower on the wall? Pushing a button will send out your companion’s call, making the flower bloom, its roots and thorns becoming new places for you to climb up. We’ve no doubt Jusant will have more enchanting mechanics hidden up its sleeve as you progress further through the game, too.
You’ll find yourself battling the elements at times: fair weather is fine, but if it’s too sunny, your energy will drain faster – and any foothods created by blossoming a flower or plant might just wilt away if you don’t use them quick enough. There’s wind and rain, too, although we’re yet to experience them.
There’s some narrative to be gleaned from Jusant, with letters and memos to be found as you explore its vertical world. But that’s the only thing that gives us pause: a world this mysterious deserves a stronger narrative, and we’re not sure if Jusant is going to deliver. It won’t be a dealbreaker if not – the act of climbing, puzzling out a route each time you ascend, is enough to keep you engaged here.
Our time with Jusant has ensured that the game is high up on our most-anticipated games for the rest of the year. It’s beautiful, meditative and thoughtful, with figuring out your routes each time providing enough challenge that you’re not going to get bored. Keep this one on your radar: we don’t think you’re going to be disappointed.
Jusant is coming to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC on 31st October.