When it comes to gaming, it helps a lot to keep your expectations in check. Turns out that when you don’t expect everything to change your life, many more games are able to meet the bar you’re setting for yourself! Don’t Nod’s chill climber Jusant is a great example of this sort of thing – I went in expecting some swashbuckling mountain-climbing adventure, but it may have helped to be ready for a more chill experience. It’s still just fine, but there’s something to be said for knowing what you’re getting into.
In a world where the sea level seems to have…diminished somewhat, given the ships beached on what used to be a seabed, a young climber and his squishy pal start the ascent to a faraway tower. The climber’s companion is capable of producing a mystical tone that helps revive life around the ruins of the tower. Together, the two will need to make a perilous journey to the top, learning more about the Jusant event, its causes and what happened to the world along the way.
Well, perilous might be something of a stretch. In Jusant, you certainly do plenty of climbing. Your hero is capable of clambering all over the place in a style oddly reminiscent of the PSVR2’s mountain-climbing Horizon spinoff. It’s an enjoyable, rhythmic sort of motion, and there’s a degree of fun to be had just climbing around and seeing what you can see. Areas tend to have plenty of gorgeous vistas, intricate detailing to check out and lore-packed collectibles to find.
The issue, then, is that there’s not actually any peril at all. The climber hooks his rope safely next to any wall he hops onto, meaning that even running out of stamina isn’t a particularly big deal as, at worst, he’ll fall and be saved by the hook. There’s even the ability to place additional hooks as you go. Despite your best efforts there’s pretty much nothing you can do that will put you in real danger – a charging jump off the edge of a cliff will simply invisible-wall you right back to safety.
In other words, Jusant is a walking simulator where sometimes you climb instead of walk! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though I admit I would have preferred a little more of a gameplay slant to things. It’s particularly relevant when you consider that Jusant can be completed in around 3-6 hours at most – just outside of the Steam refund period, so beware and maybe consider the Game Pass version instead. The opportunity to fail might have extended the run time a tad while also making Jusant a more engaging experience.
Let it not be said that walking simulators can’t be pretty, at least. Jusant’s got some serious style, from the technological-natural fusion of the tower to the adorable nature of the climber’s companion. There’s also a fantastic soundtrack by Guillaume Ferran here to enjoy while you’re climbing around that really drives home the desolate, beautiful world.
In other words, this is a wholly acceptable experience that I might have liked more if there were more to it. How nice that Jusant is available on Game Pass, which is a perfect platform when we’re talking about titles like this. Jusant is a bite-sized affair that’s more experience than game, but the price is right, so if you want to experience its world for an afternoon then strap on your climbing gear and take a peek at the peak.