Some time before I finished my Starfield Crimson Fleet quests, I stole a few hours to play Jusant on Game Pass. The climbing mechanics were unique and interested me enough to try it out. Time to beat ranged from 4 to 8 hours, so it was a nice change of pace to my over 100 plus hours in Starfield.
The cartoon art style reminded me a little bit of Cocoon. That simpler style meant it’s a perfect game to play on my Xcloud via my Steam Deck. Games with simpler graphics seem to stream much easier. The shorter game length and ease to play via Steam Deck helped me finish it in the 2 days I played. As far away from the “finish” as I am for other games in my backlog, it’s nice to actually finish a game.
Starting my Jusant Climb
Story-wise I didn’t really pay a ton of attention to what exactly was going on. I saw enough to understand the game world was once mostly water and those waters receded to reveal all the climbable spaces. Makes sense, since Jusant is French for ebb tide. Without water, all the inhabitants evacuated.
I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s worth noting I never ran into any people. Not even at the end. It’s best you know that now in case you play Jusant (and you should) to avoid that bit of disappointment. Thankfully, the character is not alone in the game. The little blue puffball of a pet is cute and useful. He (or She?) can point out objective paths and activate some organic climbing grown spots.
Other than all that, there were various texts that filled in the story more. I opened them, but didn’t actually read all the text. There were also some glyphs to activate with some visual story telling (I think) Really I was in it for the Climbing game play.
A Chill Game, but Close to a Climbing Sim
The climbing gameplay is where Jusant truly shines. Since I played on Steam Deck exclusively, the trigger buttons served as hand holds with the left stick controlling movement direction (up, down, left, right). Not sure how well it translates to PC (mouse buttons?), but the gamepad play is great.
I could pick a direction to climb, but I’d have to alternate trigger presses to let go and grab on to climb in the desired direction. Most climbing surfaces have an automatic anchor point nearby to attach my characters automated safety line. I fell a few times, so it was nice to have that there to catch me.
There’s even a stamina system where I could take breaks to regain some, but falls permanently reduced the amount. If stamina ran out, I fell back to my anchor. Only hanging from anchors or standing on solid ground would recharge the full stamina meter again. It added to the tension of the longer climbing puzzles.
Anchoring the Jusant Gameplay
The various hand hold areas were fun and all, but manual anchors are where the true fun starts. Once placed, they held my line in that place. This was great for climbing up or across long distances. Placing an anchor is almost a physical checkpoint system. Instead of falling all the way back to the auto anchor, I would only fall to where I placed the last anchor.
Those anchors and safety rope were the winning combination for the game. Hanging by the rope from an anchor opened many possibilities to solve the climbing puzzles. I could climb up the rope to the anchor or rappel down. When there was enough slack in the rope, I could run along the rock face to grab a far away handhold, or free swing when hanging from an edge.
Hand Holds That Move
Later on, Jusant kept the climbing puzzles fresh by adding dynamic handholds. There were places where my character’s blue little buddy could sing to force different plants to grow hand grips. There were also bugs that crawled on the walls and acted as mobile grips for me. It was a bit weird climbing across those as they moved in various directions away from my desired path.
There’s even a stretch where strong, shifting winds play a huge role. Jumping super far in various directions was a nice change of pace to some of the slower climbing that came before it. Ideas like that would be great in a future DLC (fingers crossed) or even a sequel. Maybe some ice or lava in the future.
By the time I reached the final climbing puzzle, all the tricks I learned over the other levels came into play to reach the top. My efforts were paid off by the ending cutscene which I won’t spoil.
Jusant is a must play game that is worth a buy. If you have Game Pass, then it definitely deserves a try. The climbing gameplay is so good. It’s relaxing if you take your time and a great way to wedge the gap between the other super long games everyone is playing. I hope the money flows to the developer so we get more of this.