Since going independent, Don't Nod has put together some eclectic adventures. One of its latest efforts is one that sounds intimidating by its premise but is actually a more relaxing experience than one might expect. Jusant is a serene game about climbing to unimaginable heights, and Shacknews recently had a chance to try it out.
First revealed during the Xbox Games Showcase back in June, Jusant's story is a simple one. Players are following a local native with the goal of climbing a giant mountain. Players don't have many tools at their disposal, but the only one they truly need is their trusty rope to scale the rocky cliffsides. Players must use the shoulder buttons (the game explicitly notes that gamepad use is preferred) to control their hands and find any available grip alongside the surface. Some climbs are more difficult than others and will have players reaching the limits of their stamina meter. It's possible to breathe and rest in an effort to briefly refill the meter, but the amount that it can be refilled becomes more and more limited until the player reaches a flat surface.
While that sounds harrowing, Jusant is meant to be a relaxing experience. There are tether spots visible around each climbing spot. These act as an indicator of where to go next, but they also ensure that the player can't fall to their death. If a player loses their grip, they'll get a brief scare, but they'll always be saved by their tether. Jusant is meant to be cozy, so don't expect to die. Still, that doesn't make later climbs easy. Some stretches get longer and test players' ability to plot out the most efficient path upwards. They can also plant pistons to make the climb a little bit easier.
It's a minimalist presentation, but there is a story at work in Jusant. The camera will pan over the silent protagonist at various points, and players will occasionally find notes from other people on the way up the mountain. On top of that, upon starting Chapter 2, players will meet a companion character called Ballast. Ballast can be used to peek at what's ahead. It can also use its echo ability to bring life to the surrounding area. Part of that includes raising climbable vines and creating new paths forward.
Jusant is a relatively stress-free experience, but that doesn't mean it isn't challenging. I hit a wall (figuratively and literally) at various points during my time with the game. Finding the right way to go involves a lot of patience and occasional experimentation with the tools available. It'll be interesting to see how the story progresses, what other potential tools the player finds, and if Ballast picks up any other ways to assist on the way up the mountain.
Those looking to climb the mountain won't have to wait much longer. Jusant will come to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on Tuesday, October 31. It will also be available through Xbox Game Pass. Those who want an early taste can check out the game's first few chapters on Steam.
These impressions are based on an early PC demo provided by the publisher. It may not be representative of the final product.