Jusant is a tranquil and rewarding experience | Hands-on preview

by on August 24, 2023

In Jusant, you don’t know why you find yourself at the foot of an immeasurable mountain. At first, your only task is to climb, however, there is no rush or urgency to do so. The scale is monumental, but the challenge is yours and yours alone, where you’re free to absorb the serenity of nature and the expansiveness of your surroundings with utter freedom. You’re at one with the wind, the sun, the creatures going about their lives, and the remnants of a civilisation that once thrived within the structure.

Climbing up the mountain isn’t particularly challenging, but there’re different ways to do so and a rewarding flow where getting further and further offers a deep sense of satisfaction. You want to get higher, and at the same time you want to uncover the mysteries of the people that lived there. Various documents are scattered around that offer insights into conversations they had, romances and crushes, hopes and dreams, and a common goal regarding the civilisation’s search for survival.

There’s also a somewhat eerie sense to your discoveries. Tables and chairs with cups and plates still set; musical instruments and other items left untouched; and a world lost to something you’re not entirely sure of. Clues do start to surface, and you’ll gather them as you climb, yet there’s a lot to discover and multiple paths that might lead to something interesting or a dead end. However you play, there’s no punishment for your curious nature. Death never finds you, and there’s no health bar. DON’T NOD wants you to feel safe, but at the same time feel lost; a small fish in a big pond, so to speak.

Jusant celebrates our natural environment just as much as it wants you to respect it, and while the game is about climbing up a tall tower, it is also about overcoming any obstacle thrown in our way. This philosophical backbone filters through everything, but the act of climbing is the central focus. Playing feels like a dream, and utilising pitons to centre yourself, swinging across the vast environments, and moving from rock to rock, ledge to ledge, and platform to platform is incredibly rewarding. Your left and right triggers essentially act as your hands, where you move your arms and grab onto things to move yourself left or right and up or down.

Managing your stamina gauge is key. If you get tired and it almost runs out, you can press down on the left stick to replenish it, although it does shrink until you’re able to stand back up. Moving across the walls of the mountain is relatively quick, and you can jump and double jump to reach higher areas. Some places let you thrown your rope and use it to swing between too distant platforms, and there’re some other nuanced traversal techniques to help you scale further. Another key element at your disposal is the cute little creature in your backpack.

DON’T NOD need to release a plush because it’s so sweet. This companion can show you the way forward, and you can communicate with him for fun, but it’s best characteristic is how it communicates with nature. It can make certain flora grow, making small vines larger and let you climb up them. Other times it’ll make tiny plants grown from the surface of the mountain, letting you utilise them to climb further. In one of the biomes, the sun was so hot that it made them burn out and disappear, but it also made your stamina gauge deplete at a quicker rate.

I can’t wait to see more of Jusant. Not only is it an enjoyable game to play, but I was also in love with the visuals and the sense of tranquillity it provided. The puzzles come from knowing how to get higher, and while you won’t be stuck for long, there’s plenty of variety in how you decide to progress. The story, while still vague at this point, kept me interested thanks to the various letters you find while exploring, and the peaceful music and mysterious nature surrounding you was enough to bump this right up my list of most-anticipated titles of 2023 still to come.

Jusant is “coming soon”, with no firm release date as of yet.