Parkour mechanics have become a pretty big element of a lot of platformers and action games in recent years. Climbing in particular has become a pretty big mechanic in a lot of games. While I know some people aren’t particularly fond of all of the parkour mechanics, I have always enjoyed them. I bring this up because the game I am looking at today takes those mechanics to a new level, basically creating a mountain climbing game. When I first saw Jusant I was immediately intrigued as the premise looked really fun. Fans of parkour mechanics will likely have a blast with Jusant as it truly feels like climbing a tower that stretches into the sky.
Jusant takes place in a world much different than our own. You play as a climber that comes upon a water creature named Ballast. As you approach a tower that stretches high into the sky you realize that you need to help return Ballast to its family. As you begin to climb the immensely tall tower you start to piece together what happened to the once thriving tower.
If I were to classify Jusant I would say that it feels like a mountain climbing platformer. While you will reach parts of the tower where you can explore horizontally, a large majority of the game involves climbing up the tower. To climb you will use one trigger to control your left hand and another trigger to control your right hand. Scattered along the path are things you can grab onto. To climb you will use one trigger to hold with the corresponding hand. You will then use an analog stick to point your other hand towards the next hand hold. You will keep switching between moving your two hands as you continue to climb.
To help you in your journey you have a harness that you can attach to the wall. At the beginning of each climbing section you will attach your harness to the wall. You will then start climbing. As you climb you can place up to three pitons into the wall. These act as a way to save your progress up the wall. If you should fall you can climb up your rope to quickly reach this point again. You only have a limited amount of rope though, so you can’t waste it.
As you progress through the game you will acquire additional abilities. When you are holding onto the wall you can aim a jump/double jump in order to reach higher places. You can let go of the wall to swing/wall run based on where you placed your last piton. Ballast also eventually receives the ability to interact with the environment which gives you more places to grab as you move up the tower.
Before I continue I want to bring up that I have never rock climbed, and never plan to. I don’t have personal experience to base this on, but playing Jusant truly felt like I was climbing a tall tower. When you begin the game you stare at a tall tower that stretches so high in the sky that you can’t even see the top. The goal of Jusant is to climb the tower to reach the top.
At first the game is pretty simple and straightforward. You just need to grab the tower with one hand and reach for the next hand hold with your other hand. You then swap and move your other hand up. This continues as you move up the tower. Your character has a stamina meter so you occasionally have to take a break and refresh the meter.
The main reason why Jusant works is that the climbing is so satisfying. When you get in a rhythm you can really start moving up the tower really quickly. After a little while the mechanics become an afterthought as you start naturally climbing the tower.
The simple climbing mechanics are satisfying on their own, but things get better once you start using some of the other additional mechanics. It is fun being able to swing/wall run along large sections of the tower to reach new areas. When you start adding in these other mechanics, the game starts to feel somewhat like a puzzle as you need to figure out how to use all of the different mechanics together in order to make progress.
I think another reason why the climbing works so well is that it actually gives you quite a bit of freedom. There seems to be a main path up the tower, but there are quite a few side paths as well. Many of these sidepaths have a lot of the game’s various “collectibles” so it pays to search these sidepaths. I really enjoyed this freedom as it makes it feel more like you are making your own choice on how to climb the tower rather than following a set path.
This does potentially create some issues for people that want to explore every path in the game. While playing the game it was hard at times to know what paths I had already explored. It is not always easy to tell where you can and can’t reach either. Therefore if you are trying to find all of the collectibles, you will likely miss some of them no matter how hard you try, unless you spend a lot of time backtracking. The good news is that the game does a good job telling you what you are missing in each chapter. You can then go back to chapters you have completed to find the collectibles that you missed.
As for difficulty I would probably classify Jusant as easy to moderately difficult. Part of this comes down to the fact that you can’t die in the game. Since you are always tethered when climbing, you can’t die no matter how far you fall. If you fall a long way, you will lose some stamina and lose the progress you have made since the last piton you placed. Whenever you reach a flat horizontal surface or certain sections of the wall, you will regain all of your stamina.
There are a few points in the game where you need to think outside of the box. Some of the jumps are somewhat difficult as well. You will miss some jumps. You never lose too much progress when you miss a jump though. Therefore the penalty for messing up is minimal. I kind of wish the game was a little more difficult at times, but it is difficult enough where it is still enjoyable.
While the climbing gameplay is the standout feature of Jusant, I thought the visuals and the story were quite good as well. The game has a number of cutscenes, but a lot of the story is told through various notes you find scattered around the tower. The world that Jusant creates is quite interesting as the inhabitants created their own little society built around living in a very tall tower.
The visuals are also quite good. While the visuals might not be photo realistic, I think they look quite good. What I was most impressed by is the amount of the world that you can see at any given time. You can see quite a bit below and above your current position as well as to each side. This helps you plan how you are going to proceed.
For the most part Jusant met my expectations. I never knew I wanted a mountain climbing game, and Jusant showed me that it can be quite fun. I mostly only had one main issue with the game.
That issue is the game’s length. I wouldn’t consider the game short, but I was hoping it would be a little longer. I beat the game in around 6-7 hours. This is not bad. I also tried to find as many collectibles as I could while climbing the tower. I probably ended up finding close to 90% of them. If you are only interested in following the main path up to the top of the tower, it likely will take you a decent amount less time as I spent time going backwards trying to explore different paths.
A length of 6-7 hours is not bad. The main issue I have with the length is just that I wish it was longer since I was really enjoying the game. When the game really hits its groove using all of the different mechanics, you are already close to the end. I just wish the game was longer as I was still having a lot of fun with the mechanics when the game ended. The game is still quite enjoyable, I just wish there was more of it.
I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a rock climbing person. I have never rock climbed and never really thought about a rock climbing video game before. That said I really enjoyed playing Jusant. While I don’t have any first hand experience rock climbing, the game really makes you feel like you are. The climbing mechanics are really enjoyable. When you add in the additional mechanics, the rock climbing becomes a sort of puzzle where you need to figure out how to use all of them together. The satisfying rock climbing is combined with great visuals and an interesting world/story.
I really only had two complaints with the game. The first is that I would consider the game to be easy to moderately difficult. You can’t die in the game, and failure only leads to you losing a little progress. The other issue is just that I wish Jusant was a little longer. Beating the game and finding almost all of the collectibles only took around 6-7 hours. It might only take around another hour to find the rest of the collectibles. I mostly wish the game was longer as I was still really enjoying the mechanics when the game ended.
My recommendation for Jusant is quite simple. If you don’t tend to like parkour mechanics or aren’t interested in the rock climbing gameplay, I don’t think Jusant will be for you. If the game’s premise intrigues you though, I think you will really enjoy Jusant and should seriously consider checking it out.
Release Date: October 31st, 2023 | Systems: PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Developer: Don’t Nod | Publisher: Don’t Nod | ESRB Rating: Everyone
Genres: Action, Indie, Platforming, Puzzle
Official Website: https://dont-nod.com/en/
- The gameplay is really satisfying where it feels like you are climbing a giant tower.
- The visuals and story/world are engaging.
- Is a little too easy as the punishment for failure is low.
- I wish the game was longer as it only takes around 6-7 hours to beat.
Recommendation: For people who are interested in checking out a rock climbing game with satisfying gameplay and an interesting world.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Don’t Nod for the review copy of Jusant used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.