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Jusant review — Tranquility in motion

With your feet planted on the cracked desert sand where the tides used to wash, the sky beckons atop an endless perch of earth. It is here in this vertical landmass that a civilization once thrived, but after the Jusant, little remains beyond the remnants of a bygone time. With climbing gear in tow, you, and your curious companion Ballast, brave the cliffside as you begin your ascent to the top.

From start to finish, climbing and movement is the name of the game. Jusant is a breath of fresh air when it comes to gameplay, because everything feels designed around rooting for you to rise above challenges rather than trying to punish your mistakes. Some might say this makes the game too easy, but the perspective I have is one of meditation, meaning this game fulfills that cozy niche of low stress games. Instead of dreading a fall whenever I looked down, I instead felt a sense of accomplishment watching as the landmarks I once knew intimately faded into smaller and smaller vistas as I climbed ever upward. 

And to be honest, falling was never really that much of a threat considering how every time you begin a climb, you set up an anchor point. This means you can’t really lose progress in any largely meaningful way. I understand how this might make the experience too easy for some, seeing as this game wears the nametag of action-puzzle climber, but it did ensure that my time wasn’t spent unnecessarily repeating areas after a misstep. That said, I do believe there could have been a bit more added in terms of providing deeper or challenging encounters for my fellow puzzlers out there.

This isn’t an agonizingly precise climbing experience like the one found in Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, nor is it oversimplified like bouldering any surface in The Legend of Zelda Tears Of The Kingdom. Instead, climbing is a thoughtful but fluid action, executed using the triggers to grasp and release each handhold. It takes some getting used to at the beginning, but by the time I had reached the peak it felt like I had really mastered the controls in a way that climbing became swift and smooth while still providing a tactile response to each movement. While not available in the review build, the developers have stated that they plan on adding more movement accessibility features like unlimited stamina, jump assistance and simplified climbing controls for those who may need them towards the end of November.

Movement is further expanded upon both through the environment and the use of various climbing tools. Pitons can be placed on most surfaces to provide additional anchor points to catch you if you fall, but can also be cleverly used as a pivot point for some creative swinging across gaps. The tower is also teeming with all sorts of flora and fauna, meaning you may be able to use plants as impromptu ladders, or hitch a lift on the pebble critters that dwell in the cliff sides to reach new heights. The blending of the environment directly into game mechanics not only feels good to play around with, but is extremely charming in its implementation.

You aren’t alone on your journey upwards, as your watery companion Ballast accompanies you inside your backpack. While they are welcome on the journey just for the cute factor alone, Ballast also comes with a few abilities to help you along your expedition. Their main ability is a pulse wave that can awaken the flora found throughout the tower, often creating new handholds or shortcuts for easier access to various locations. Ballast also has an ability to help you locate collectibles by listening out for frequencies, represented by small circles in the distance that help guide you in the right direction. I didn’t find myself using this ability too often, but it was nice to have in the back pocket when returning to areas to track down things I may have missed on my initial playthrough.

These collectibles range from left behind letters of long gone settlers to ancient murals and monuments waiting to be reawakened. They were interesting to read for the most part, providing a way to learn more about the history of those who once lived in this now arid climate, and the mystery of where the water has gone. The side objectives feel light, and serve more as amusing additions that you may stumble across rather than something you need to hunt feverishly to really enjoy the game.

As a whole, this is what I truly love about Jusant, that it’s a relaxing experience where I can advance at my own pace and take a moment to enjoy a game simply because it’s fun and amusing to interact with. Pulling myself over the final ledge at the peak and thinking back fondly to every inch of the cliffs I ascended reminded me that the journey itself is sometimes just as satisfying as the climax, and Jusant truly embodies this notion. The narrative is a simple one, but serves more as a vessel to take the player on a breathtaking vertical trek into the sky. It’s you, your cuddly companion, and the tower, allowing for a simple yet serene experience that invites you to focus on just this small trio interacting with one another.

Editor | Website

Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.

90

Excellent

Jusant

Review Guidelines

Jusant may seem like a game about just scaling a tower, but the calmness of the climb manifests itself in a way that feels peaceful in the ascension. Movement is focused and deliberate without feeling clunky, and the involvement of the terrain is wonderful. The breezy cliff sides and beautiful landscapes make for a short and sweet experience that anyone can appreciate.

Corvo Rohwer

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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