There is no sign of human life or water. Fortunately, I have with me a very sweet creature, Ballast, who can help me on my journey by interacting with my surroundings. A mountain looms before my eyes. What happened before my arrival? Why are there no people? Yet I seem to glimpse structures between one mountain indentation and another. Will they all be uninhabited?
Jusant – the new adventure by Don’t Nod available Oct. 31 on PC, Xbox Series X/S and Playstation 5 and yet another wonderful title of the month, after Cocoon (here the review of Cocoon), which will be added at day one on Game Pass – reveals nothing about the story behind an apparent natural disaster that left the world barren, dry, desert-like.
The only way to try to find out what happened to humanity is to start climbing this Tower until we reach the top, because only then will we be able to know the truth. This is what Jusant and, therefore, Don’t Nod imply. By the end of the review, however, you will understand that, at least for me, the message of the study differs from what you might initially think.
Jusant and the power of writing
This is probably the first time I’ve ever been in such difficulty in telling you about a video game. I could spend a great number of words – but I won’t – about Jusant’s gameplay and focus the attention on the quality of climbing. It climbs beautifully if you really want to know, thanks to particularly responsive controls and identifying, from time to time, the best path to follow. All of this while learning as the chapters progress, new mechanics that make the adventure part more and more fun and satisfying.
In between climbs, there are plenty of bases to catch your breath, abandoned camps to explore in the wild. Here we may find several manuscripts from those who beat the same route as us or from those who manned the base camps. I thus began to notice, as this narrative choice became familiar, how the memoirs explained little by little and through moments of daily life, points of view and streams of consciousness, the events that preceded our arrival and why we see the world so devastated.
As the altitude increases, the drama escalates: humans does not seem to find a solution to the drought however, unwilling to accept defeat against nature and spurred on by his survival instinct, they attempts one last, desperate expedition. An impossible challenge that will, in all likelihood, condemn to death all adventurers and adventuress who decide to take part in it. Don’t Nod tells a very powerful and poignant story simply through pick-up slips of paper, even managing to turn the invisible inhabitants of the mountain into my new traveling companions.
Point of no return
Arrived at the end credits, satisfied and fulfilled, I tried to find my own interpretation to the message that Jusant wants to send you: the development study is not too interested in revealing why this catastrophe occurred, but rather attempts to explain how people first experienced and then reacted to this death sentence for all humanity.
And then there’s me, experiencing the whole thing from the outside and learning the dynamics of this ‘tragedy’ thanks to Don’t Nod’s usual extraordinary storytelling skills. A talent that is expressed through the notes and notes of my pen pals and friends of whom, at some point and as was to be expected, I never heard from again. In the end, what I asked myself was “What did Jusant leave me with? The best video game climb of a lifetime or the best possible non-explanation of a catastrophic event?” Cross out, for me, option B.