Backlog Busters: Jusant Is A Meditative Escape From Real Life

Welcome back to Backlog Busters, a column dedicated to clearing our never-ending video game backlog. This time we crossed off the latest release from DON’T NOD, a meditative mountain climbing adventure that strays from the beaten path — in more ways than one.

Here’s what you need to know: Jusant is an action-puzzle game where you play as a nameless wanderer climbing a desolate tower, filled with artifacts of civilizations long past. Challenge yourself at your own pace, explore different paths, and unravel lost secrets as you climb your way to the summit.

Developed by: DON’T NOD

Played on: Xbox Game Pass

Length: 5 hours

It’s about the journey, not the destination

From the developers of Life Is Strange comes a pleasant but unexpected side track from melodrama addled teenagers and time-traveling shenanigans. Set in a distant future where water is a dying resource, you play as a lone adventurer climbing a desolate tower filled with the remnants of untold stories from a long lost civilisation.

A clear spiritual successor to games like ABZU and Journey, Jusant is a game where the destination isn’t that important. Instead, it is a game that wants to keep you on the journey for as long as possible. From the tiny, twisting corridors that demand to be explored, to the hidden notes and journals from climbers that came before you, to the various ways to climb and reclimb the same path.

Jusant belongs to a growing genre of relaxing games that I have come to love. Think of titles like PowerWash Simulator and House Flipper, and how they translate the therapeutic nature of manual labour into satisfying and soothing gameplay. This game achieves the same with intuitive climbing mechanics and excellent sound design, crafted to keep you grounded in repetitive actions while your mind wanders, free and untethered.

Intuitive gameplay paired with clever puzzles

Although straightforward in concept, Jusant is deceptively simple in design. It begins with the basic controls: left click to hold with your left hand, and right click to hold with your right. Add on the ability to belay your rope, launch yourself with a charged jump, and use your companion to interact with the world around you — then be placed in situations where you have to use all those skills together. The end result is a thought provoking puzzle game that will change the way you view climbing as a game mechanic.

The biggest challenge about Jusant is its stamina gauge and rope management; your only two depletable resources in the game. Especially in the latter chapters, route planning becomes a necessity and using your environment to your advantage is often the difference between success and failure.

Even so, the game is designed to be friendly to players of all levels. Almost every major climbing section gives you multiple ways to approach it. Choose the easiest path if you’re there for the view, or pick the harder route to give yourself a real challenge. Jusant merges difficulty levels in a refreshing and organic way that truly immerses you in the experience.

Lacking a proper save system

Although I’ve had nothing but glowing praise for the game so far, I do want to raise the issue of its save system. Jusant has an auto-save system that seems to save at the beginning of every chapter and at every big discovery. Unfortunately there isn’t any manual save option, or any kind of save symbol to indicate that the game is currently saving. In order to save you (pun intended) from replaying chunks of gameplay like I did, I would recommend pausing your game sessions at the start of every chapter.

Verdict: Play this when you need a break

One of the best games from DON’T NOD since Life Is Strange, Jusant is an adventure-puzzle game that’s perfect to cozy up with after a long day. On top of a visually stunning world and excellent sound design, Jusant boasts intuitive controls and clever puzzle designs that will be satisfying for all levels of players. For fans of games like ABZU and Journey, this game should be an instant wishlist.

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