Tired of running, shooting, flying or looting? Why not try climbing in our Jusant review!
You’ve heard of farming and powerwash simulators, even lawn mowing sims but the most recent release from French developer Don’t Nod, is all about climbing. The makers of Life is Strange and Vampyr are back for a short romp on a tall tower before their next big release in February with Banishers of New Eden.
Jusant lets you explore and climb.
Jusant translates from French as “ebb tide” which basically means the ocean receding, although you may have to look up how to pronounce it. Fans of Don’t Nod and their games, now have this bite-sized and somewhat calming puzzle action game to tide them over for now.
The mighty Tower!
So does Jusant rope you in or does it leave you hanging? Find out in our Jusant review!
Jusant Review – Story
Jusant opens on a wide open desert area with a lone figure in the distance. You play as the wanderer who must reach the top of the tower, an immensely huge rock that was once teeming with life. The ocean has dried up due to a great drought, this event is known as the Jusant, hence the title of the game.
The reach of the drought seems far and wide.
We aren’t given much in terms of story to begin with and aside from a few hints, you are given free reign to explore. As long as you ascend the tower of course. Much of the history of this barren world is told through letters and diaries you find in your ascent of the mighty spire. Although a lot of these entries are quite long and bloated with unnecessary and somewhat pointless information.
Yeah, I don’t have time to read this.
These remnants of a long passed bustling and live community tells you of people who tried to find water elsewhere or climb further up in hopes of seeking out a solution to the now arid landscape. Stories were told of great flying beasts, called Ballasts, that had the ability to produce rain clouds. It just so happens that the wanderer is carrying a small creature that looks very similar to the cave paintings or ‘Frescos’ as they are called in the game.
I just want to squish those Ballast cheeks.
It quickly becomes clear of this mysterious stranger’s mission, to get this little Ballast to the top of the tower to see if he can end the drought. Although not much backstory is given in terms of the wanderer and what had led to these circumstances, leaving it open creates an opportunity for your own mind to wander.
The tower was once home to many people and communities before the Jusant.
Jusant Review – Gameplay
Climbing in games is not a new idea, in fact, it’s quite prevalent in titles like Horizon and Zelda, with stamina being a main factor, especially in the latter. However, in Jusant the main gameplay element is more used as a tool to solve puzzles rather than just a traversal mechanic, with each chapter inserting additional hazards and increasingly longer climbs.
This type of climbing requires a touch more thinking.
The left and right triggers on your controller act as your hands and must have one pressed at all times unless you want to fall. Stamina is your main concern as it continues to drain as you climb. It even goes down faster when you are in direct sunlight. One saving grace is that you can rest whilst your carabiner holds you, allowing you to regain some of the spent stamina.
Although your stamina may drain it will never let you fall.
Your equipment consists of rope, which does have a maximum length you need to be wary of, a carabiner and pitons. These pitons are almost like checkpoints, however you only have 4 to use in one stretch of wall. Pitons also allow you to hang from them, which allows the wanderer to swing or wall run to reach further distances.
I spent way too long swinging just for fun.
As stated before, each chapter introduces a new mechanic to keep things fresh. The first you come across are plants, however they are somewhat less than alive. Your little Ballast has the ability to awaken them when in range, allowing some extra hand holds when needed. Other elements that impact your ascent consist of crawling rock insects, blistering sun, small firefly type creatures and howling winds.
I love a good solid grip from a plant…
Jusant Review – Visuals/Performance
The tower overshadows everything in sight, so views of the lower world are nothing less than grandeur. Although the visual style is more cartoon/cell-shaded in presentation it doesn’t take anything away from the jaw-dropping panoramas over the endless horizon.
Just one of the many incredible structures on the Tower.
Details are where Jusant really shines if you pay attention to them. Each area between climbs has been designed with precision featuring many fragments of the bygone civilisation that once occupied the tower. From overturned shops to fishing equipment, houses and even construction gear.
The details are so intricate!
The performance doesn’t disappoint either with the climbing from peak to peak feeling smooth yet immersive with the specific controls. Frame rates seemed to be a non-issue although due to the freedom set in the game environment, the wanderer did get stuck on an object here or there but it was nothing that a few little jumps couldn’t fix.
I don’t think this was supposed to happen.
Jusant Review – Audio
Climbing is generally not depicted as a relaxing activity but in this case, it performs to this meaning exactly. A key component in this is the soundtrack that accompanies your journey to the summit. You’ll be eased into soothing tracks by Guillaume Ferran, a French composer who has beautifully crafted a lo-fi vibe consisting of purely instrumental tunes via the likes of guitars and piano.
Jusant Review – What Else?
Collectables, collectables, collectables. That basically sums up the additional content for Jusant. It may sound a bit boring but these items you find are not just throwaway filler to pad out the game length. Almost everything you find adds to the overall experience of Jusant, the letters as mentioned previously, sea shells let you hear the past and frescos show wall paintings of the past.
A picture of the past.
A cool ability your little Ballast has can point you in the direction of certain collectables. Whilst in this “listening” mode, the world turns to grey and coloured circles highlight nearby objects. As the letters and rock cairns don’t show up, they are a bit trickier to find.
I see a collectable!
With a total playtime of around 5 hours, depending on how long each segment takes you, it’s a decent length for the type of game although it felt like it was just starting to kick off when it ended. Trophy/Achievement hunters have nothing to worry about here as most are about the collectables with a few miscellaneous tasks to complete. Chapter select unlocks once you finish the game and even shows what chapters have a missing collectable.
Listen to the past with shells found strewn across each level.
Jusant Review – Conclusion
If you’re looking for a puzzle game to immerse yourself in, then Jusant is it. With a chilled-out soundtrack and not overly difficult gameplay, it’s perfect to zone out and just enjoy the climb. Whilst some story elements have taken a back seat, the details and mystery more than make up for it along with the impressive views. Oh and don’t forget to give Ballast a hug!
A rock cairn with a view.
So, why should you play Jusant?
- Relaxing yet immersive gameplay
- Fun puzzling climbs without too much difficulty
- Excellent details in world-building
But why shouldn’t you play Jusant?
- Very short game
- Not Much replayability
- A lot of questions left unanswered
A review code on PlayStation 5 was kindly provided by the publisher for the purpose of our Jusant review. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to join us on the Qualbert Discord to chat about all things Indie!