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Jusant Review: A Journey Upwards And Inwards

  • Innovative gameplay mechanics
  • Deeply immersive storytelling
  • Brilliant visual and audio aesthetics
  • Potentially disorienting exploration
  • Niche audience appeal

When DON'T NOD released Life is Strange in 2015, it set a new benchmark for narrative-driven games, blending storytelling with compelling gameplay. That legacy of excellence continues with its latest offering, Jusant. While Life is Strange captivated players with its deep character arcs and time-warping puzzles, Jusant (which means "receding tide" in French) takes a different route — a far more vertical route, to be exact — focusing on a wordless journey of introspection and discovery.


Imagine a game where your primary task is to climb — not just physical structures but also the rungs of introspection and exploration. Jusant accomplishes this feat, paralleling another gem, Season: A Letter to the Future, in its introspective and meditative ambiance. However, Jusant propels itself to even greater heights, blending a captivating narrative with a platforming-hybrid gameplay that makes it a standout title and a worthy honorable mention in the conversation as a Game of the Year contender.

A symphony of movements and thoughts

The first thing that's interesting about Jusant is its gameplay mechanics. Forget about the typical run-and-gun or the hack-and-slash approaches. Here, every movement is deliberate, and every decision is critical. The game's unique climbing mechanic requires a calculated blend of stamina management and strategic planning. Each ledge, each hand-hold, is a story in and of itself, urging you to slow down, to think, to feel the narrative unfolding with each ascent.


One of Jusant's most intriguing aspects is how it manages to make getting lost feel like a part of the journey, rather than a frustrating detour. Initially, it's easy to find yourself circling the same areas, looking for a way forward ... er, upward. But then it clicks — the game isn't about rushing to the summit; it's about savoring each step, each view, each puzzle. When you stop to look around, to really see, the paths seemingly appear because you took the time to notice the details — like the just-off-colored ledge that you need to grab or the distant latch that is just close enough for you to attach your rope to. This is not a game you rush; this is a game you experience.

Safety nets and cozy corners: Why falling isn't fatal

In most adventure games, the risk of plummeting to your doom is a constant threat. Not so in Jusant. Initially, this can feel a bit disappointing for fans of platforming or action-adventure – where's the adrenaline rush if you can't fall? However, Jusant isn't about the fear of falling; it's about the beauty of ascending. The game's decision to eliminate fatal falls underscores its goal of being a cozy, contemplative experience, focusing on the journey rather than the fear of failing.


The storytelling in Jusant is where it truly shines, akin to a silent film where actions and the environment speak louder than words. The narrative unwinds through the ruins, the scattered relics, and the towering pillar that you climb. Similar to Season: A Letter to the Future, the world of Jusant is filled with silent stories and letters to read, all beckoning to be discovered and pieced together, offering tantalizing glimpses into the civilization that once was. The protagonist's journey becomes a canvas for our own thoughts and interpretations, a rare trait in today's gaming world.

The Final Ascent: A climax of emotions and achievements

Visually, Jusant is a feast for the eyes. The landscapes, the play of light and shadow, and the vastness of the world are breathtaking. Paired with a minimalist, yet profoundly moving score (which is available to buy and listen to on its own), the game creates an atmosphere that's both epic and still somehow intimate. Every visual element, every note of music, adds depth to the experience, enriching the narrative and gameplay in a harmonious blend.


Drawing a parallel to Season: A Letter to the Future, Jusant adopts a similar tone in its approach to storytelling but adds its unique twist with the climbing gameplay. This addition not only diversifies the experience but elevates it, integrating the act of climbing into the storytelling and making it an inseparable part of the game's charm. Both games stand as prime examples of how video games can go beyond traditional entertainment, offering deeper, more meaningful experiences.

Jusant is a game that's more than its climbing mechanics, more than its puzzles, and more than its story. It's an adventure that invites players to delve into their inner selves, to explore not just a towering pillar but the heights and depths of their emotions and thoughts relating the in-game experiences to real life. With its stunning visuals, poignant narrative, and unique gameplay, Jusant well deserves its near-perfect score.