Jusant PC Review

Mountain climbing somehow became extraordinarily peaceful and relaxing.

By R3GR3T, Posted 31 Oct 2023

It looks like the gaming industry is on a roll with story-driven releases, though not everybody has been following this trend because they never stopped. One of these developers is DON’T NOD; they were founded in 2008 in Paris, and this game development studio has been creating works of art brought to life with great stories. With their earlier releases like Remember Me in 2013 and the ever-popular Life Is Strange in 2015, they skyrocketed in the ranks because of their story-driven development.


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DON’T NOD carried on going full steam ahead when they started expanding their reach with releases like Vampyr and Life Is Strange 2 in 2018, and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever lose that spark that brings their creations to life. The same can be said about their latest release, Jusant, released on 31 October. While Jusant might not have the same type of story-driven narrative or NPC interactions, it’s a nice change of pace for the developer and shows a lot of promise right from the start, maybe even a shift in the trend.

Jusant isn’t your everyday release; right from the start, you’ll be shown the meaning of the game’s name. Jusant is a French nautical term for ‘a receding tide’, and from there, you are introduced to the simple yet beautiful art style for the game through a quick cinematic showing a dry and desolate world, ships and boats alike are beached, and there’s no sign of any water. This already sets a pretty grim atmosphere for the world itself and does make you wonder why the water receded. However, getting an answer to that isn’t as simple, but the people who came before you might have the answers.

Your adventure in Jusant starts off without much extra information; you’ll play as what seems to be a boy who was part of an ancient civilization, carrying a cute little creature in his backpack. Even though the world seems empty and abandoned, you’re not quite as alone as it looks; you’ll still see some wildlife here and there, along with some of the stranger plant life. Initially, your objective isn’t quite as clear, but this looks to be intentional, at least until you start climbing the Tower. From there, things start becoming more apparent as you and your end goal is to reach the top.


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What makes Jusant stand out is not just the simplicity in its design but also its controls. You see, the controls might be simple, but it doesn’t mean navigating and climbing the Tower will be as you’ll need to control each arm while doing so. Between the left and right arms, you’ll need to control where they go and when they grip on as you climb. This already adds some anxiety to the game, though this does make it feel a lot more authentic as a mountain climbing release.

Naturally, no mountain climber would ever be ready without some support in the form of carabiners and pitons. Your main carabiners will act as your starting points for each climb and as resting points in other cases, though those same starting points can also count as some indication as to where you need to go. It might seem silly to point this out, but the whole Tower might count as a puzzle of sorts, and it’s painfully easy to get turned around or for you to start going in circles. However, nobody likes to start over and fall off because of the confusing climbing controls or running out of stamina, so you’ll need to place secondary pitons as you climb. These will essentially save your progress as you go and give you something to back on, literally, but you’ll have to keep in mind that you only have 3.

Jusant isn’t just climbing a mountain or the Tower just for the sake of climbing. It’s also an experience that’s bursting at the seams with so much to see. While it’s not mandatory, you’ll find shrines and frescos that you can light up as well. These might give you a little extra context as to what happened to the people and why they lived in the tower. However, that’s not all you’ll find; there was a whole civilization that made a home in the Tower. You’ll likely end up finding their letters, a lot of what they left behind, like their homes, and even the climbing paths they used long ago. This might sound like a drag when you consider that there are no voiceovers or other NPCs; you’ll also get a chance to learn more about how they lived and the struggles they went through, possibly even a delightful love story that could give you some more context to your goal.


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Moving on, you’ll eventually get to meet the strange creature living in your backpack. It is known as a Ballast, and while it is much smaller, it’s part of a race of much bigger beasts that fly around at the top of the Tower, and the strange thing is… They’re made of water. This might explain what happened to the water and what caused the ‘jusant’, though nothing can be said for sure until you reach the top, and even then, you might not get a definitive answer either. You initially play a game like Jusant for the story, and eventually, it’s more for the journey itself.

Something to keep in mind is that as you progress through Jusant, the biomes you explore and climb through will also change, taking on different mechanics and ways to get around. Keeping your playstyle flexible is the way forward, and paying attention to what’s around you for things such as strange plants, rock beetles, insects, grapple points, and so much more. You’ll need to use everything that’s around you to reach the top of the Tower, though you’ll also have to use the Ballast that you carry with you to trigger some of the environmental effects.

The Ballast you carry isn’t just a cute companion; it’s also your guide if you need a rough direction of where to go. Just let him hop out, and it’ll show highlight frescos, shrines, and the location of the next horn. Once again, while it’s necessary to hunt down the extra, it might give you some extra context as to what happened. However, Jusant is also not quite open-world and leans more toward being linear for each chapter. Unfortunately, this means that you can explore the chapter as you please, but there’s no going back to previous chapters to find anything you missed.


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There is one last thing your cute companion can do for you: you can use the Ballast to cause a wild growth with some of the plants, giving you a helpful boost or place to climb where there wasn’t one before. It’s times like these when you can make nature work for you, and you have to hang on while the vines or pods do the rest.

Sadly, nothing is ever quite as perfect as it seems, and the people who came before you wanted the water to return. They eventually learned of the Ballasts, massive creatures made of water that fly around at the top of the Tower, and they planned to capture one. You have to give them props for that, but it turned out to be the wrong answer; there’s always another way. However, it’s also at this point in Jusant where things become a little hairy; with the constant change in biomes as you progress comes new challenges as well.

On the visual side of things in Jusant, the game might rely on simplicity, but it doesn’t mean that the world at hand is underwhelming or anything like that. You just need to look at the bigger picture to see just how much detail there is, and it only gets better as you explore and progress through the chapters. What makes Jusant shine above many others is the clear differences between the biomes but also the challenges they bring, such as – The hot sun that drains your stamina even faster, intense winds, and even massive chasms. All this, along with the unique designs, come together and create a brilliant atmosphere that’s just begging to be explored.



 

For those who live on music, prepare to feel things you never thought you would. Just as much as Jusant has breathtakingly unique world design, the same can be said about its soundtrack alone. However, you’ll only really get to experience the soundtrack at the end of each chapter. The rest of the time, you’ll have nothing but ambient sound. Don’t take the ambient for granted, it might not be much at first, but that’s what drives the atmosphere and makes it so intensely immersive as well.

Overall, Jusant might start off as a fun climbing game that challenges you to climb a massive mountain, but it’ll end up turning into a journey. Even though Jusant doesn’t have any NPCs, there’s still a rich story to discover in the form of letters from the previous people who lived there. All in all, Jusant might give players with a fear of heights a nightmare or two, but it’s easy enough to look past for a game that’ll leave a lasting impact and maybe even a few fond memories.


Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Jusant

95/100

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX
Publisher(s): DON'T NOD
Developer(s): DON'T NOD
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2023-10-31

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