Presenting Gameffine's Jusant review. Scale an immeasurably tall tower and ascend to new heights in this chill puzzle-climbing game
Product Brand: DontNod
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: $24.99
Product In-Stock: InStock
If there is a studio that has consistently managed to deliver compelling and thought-provoking narrative experiences, it’s the French developer Don’t Nod. While most of the internet know them for their coming-of-age teen drama Life is Strange, it’s Don’t Nod’s other off-beat lineup that has always piqued my interest. Even though flawed, their often-forgotten dystopian action game Remember Me, the morbid blood-sucking RPG Vampyr (check out my review here) and the gut-wrenching WW2 adventure Gerda: A Flame in Winter, managed to keep me hooked from a both narrative and gameplay perspective. While waiting for Banishers, their most ambitious game yet, I stumbled upon Jusant during the last Steam Game Fest. The title, which stands for “receding tide” in French, seeks to offer a meditative and heart-warming puzzle-platforming experience amidst a sea of dopamine-pumping games of 2023. Presenting Gameffine’s Jusant review, courtesy of Homerun PR.
Jusant takes place in a quasi post-apocalyptic setting. Long ago, a civilization flourished in the Tower, a gigantic rock formation that reached towards the sky and surrounded by ocean. The people that lived there used to depend on the ocean’s receding tides for fishing and scavenging. But eventually, the sea dried up, turning the seabed into an endless desert. Struggling for survival, the people descended from the Tower and went in search of a new life. Taking place at an unspecified time in the near future, you play as an unnamed traveler visiting the Tower, now completely abandoned and devoid of any human life. Chasing ghosts and memories and accompanied by a cute companion, the hero starts ascending the tower to find a way to restore the sea.
Jusant is fairly light on traditional storytelling, as it doesn’t have any spoken dialogues during cutscenes, nor is it filled with exposition. Instead, the game has the player rely on visual cues as well as collectibles to piece together the past events that have transpired and understand the lore of the world. Aside from the standard lore collectibles, the hero can collect pieces of a diary belonging to a previous Tower dweller called Bianca, which details her expeditious ascend to the very top of the Tower to find a solution to their problems. While confusing and alien at first, it all comes together by the time the credits roll. A gorgeous art design, varied level aesthetics and soothing music enriches this five-hour tale of climbing towards a new future.
Straight to the Top
As mentioned above, the main objective of Jusant is to climb to the top of the mountain using several tools at your disposal. The main method of ascension is by pure rock-climbing. . The left and right triggers serves as your left and right-hand grips, and the left analogue stick is used for moving left and right while gripping a surface. Whenever you start to climb, the game automatically clips a rope to a carabiner, and you can place up to three pitons while climbing. These act as soft-check points should you ever lose your grip. The hero can also perform mid-climb jumps, swing from any climbable surface, wall-run, and rappel to get to the objective. This forms the core gameplay loop of Jusant. It may sound simple, and it is, but it is also extremely satisfying thanks to fluid animations and a believable physics system.
To add some nuances to the climbing system, there is a stamina meter you have to watch out for. Stamina depletes as you perform intensive actions during a climb, like jumping, but you do not have to rely on consumables to replenish it. Stamina can be replenished even during a climb just by staying stationary and pressing the designated input. However, there’s no real consequence of letting your stamina get low. Whenever you fail a jump or run out of stamina, you’ll lose your grip and fall down. But you cannot die in Jusant. Since your rope gets clipped to the start of every climbing point, you’ll just end up dangling below that point. Moreover, you can use the three available pitons to further alleviate this nuisance. While I understand that letting the player fail kind of goes against the whole chill vibe of the game, the lack of any consequence of failure is disappointing. It also means that you do not get the same level of satisfaction upon successfully completing an arduous climb.
Your cutesy companion, the Ballast can also chip in during platforming. The Ballast’s special ability can be used for several purposes, such as slowing these fast-moving rock critters so that you may use them as gripping points, bringing large vines to life to hitch a free ride, as well as activate a type of collectible to reveal more lore. The game does not have any dogs or cats to pet, but you can pet your Ballast, which automatically makes Jusant a 10/10 game.
Jusant is advertised as a puzzle-climbing game. You can understand my disappointment when these “puzzles” turns out to be nothing more than figuring out where to grip next. I can’t think of any section in the game that took me more than 30 seconds to figure out. Some levels try to add their modifiers to the gameplay, such as sun scorched levels draining your stamina quickly. But other than the penultimate level where you have to watch out for wind direction, these are nothing but minor annoyances. Again, I understand why the game is easy as it is, but the lack of even the slightest challenge seems like a missed opportunity for a rock-climbing game.
As for bugs and glitches, Jusant is a relatively polished experience. There are some minor physics glitches like the hero getting stuck in level geometry (easily rectifiable by jumping ahead) and the controls being unresponsive occasionally. But this doesn’t take away from the experience. What’s concerning is the performance of the game. Jusant is an extremely beautiful game, but that’s due to the art design and not the raw fidelity of the assets. On my RTX 3070 pc, the game runs anywhere from 70 to 100 fps in outdoor areas at 1080p without upscaling on max settings. DLSS, FSR and XeSS are present (not frame generation), but oddly enough, DLSS doesn’t seem to offer a significant fps boost compared to FSR. On the Steam Deck, the framerate is wildly inconsistent and the fps fluctuates between 30-60 constantly. It even drops below 30 sporadically, even with heavy upscaling. I suppose this is the cost of making an Unreal Engine 5 game.
Jusant offers a therapeutic and heart-warming narrative about hope, struggle, reclamation and beginning anew conveyed through immersive and non-disruptive gameplay moments. The core gameplay is simple and fun thanks to the fluid controls and well-made animations. The lack of any sort of challenge and extremely basic puzzles does affect the catharsis, but Jusant is more than the sum of its parts and has enough substance, making it the perfect Gamepass material.
FINAL RATING: 75/100
Jusant Review: A Gripping AscendJusant Review: A Gripping Ascend
- Gorgeous art style
- Fluid climbing mechanics with tight controls
- A relaxing 5 hour journey
- The performance is spotty at times
- Extremely basic puzzles
- Failure is ironically not an option in a game about rock-climbing