We have started to see that kickstarter and other fund-raising services have helped some great games come to fruition over the last few years. Jotun is a game that used the crowdfunding service to pitch their game, which is set in Norse mythology. The statement they gave about the game was that it would feature “the mysterious romantic mood of Journey mixed with the scale of the boss fights in Shadow of the Colossus in top-down 2D.”
Jotun is an action-adventure isometric game, that is set in Norse mythology. I was instantly drawn to the top down, beautifully hand drawn animations and vibrant world. The game is about a Norse warrior, called Thora, who has died. As a Norse warrior, she expects to gain access to Valhalla, but the game sees her placed in Ginnungagap. This is a dream like world set between the two worlds. She must now prove that she is worthy enough get be granted access to Valhalla. If Thora can prove to the Gods by defeating the five Jotun powers, she will be allowed access. Thora must obtain various runes scattered throughout levels, in order to take on the Jotun beasts.
During the game, and exploring the various locations, you will start to get access to more powers, that are given to you by the gods. These powers give you various abilities, like stronger attack moves or health regeneration. You need to find the runes in each area, in order to take on the Jotun boss. You slowly learn more about the world and Thora as you progress and defeat the bosses. What I liked about the game, was the fact that you can approach the different levels in any order. Much like Zelda games, or more recently Titan Souls, you gain different abilities and upgrades from certain areas. These upgrades may then help you in another area, so if you feel stuck you can go somewhere else, get stronger and then return again later.
The gameplay itself is pretty simple. It may seem simple in terms of mechanics and systems, but the game does have some challenging moments. What I appreciated about the game, was that it doesn’t treat you like someone who doesn’t know what you’re doing. It very much allows so to explore, uncover and learn the mechanics for yourself. We are so used to having hand-held introductions to games, and it was refreshing to have a game that respects you as a gamer.
The main focus of the game is exploration and combat. The levels are varied in style, and what enemies and obstacles you will face. In each world you will find new items that will help you on your journey. The puzzles in each area are fairly simple, but still fun and rewarding. I especially enjoyed solving the star system patterns, that unlocked pathways.
One thing I found a bit tricky to get used to was the combat. Thora doesn’t move very quickly, and can feel a bit sluggish. You have two attacks, normal and more of a heavy hit attack. It takes quite a long time to build your strong attack, which can leave you vulnerable. You can also roll to dodge attacks from enemies.
The hardest fights happen against the Jotun bosses, who are massive compared to you. Thora has a large axe to take on the huge enemies, which are towering over you. The game feels like a mix of Dark Souls, Titan Souls and Shadow of the Colossus. The presentation of the boss fights is visually impressive. The screen pans out, so you get a wide view of the landscape and scale of the enemy. The bosses perform various attacks and moves, and its your job to figure out and perfectly time attacks to deplete their health bar.
My favourite part of the game has to be the gorgeous presentation. The game uses a hand drawn style, with fantastic world design and characters. The colours are vibrant, and the animations works wonderfully. I felt like I was in a cartoon, or playing an animated film. The camera pans, zooms and moves in unique and interesting ways that reveal the scope and design of environments. The sound design is also very strong, with uplifting and dramatic musical tracks that feel epic. I also really enjoyed the narration and storytelling.
Overall, Jotun is a fantastic game that had some incredible moments. The world design is awesome, and uses some clever ways of revealing the scope of the worlds you explore. The bosses are the key moments of the game. They are gigantic, interesting and varied. I would have liked to have seen a bit more combat variation and wished that movement felt a bit quicker, but in general it’s a game that’s well worth checking out.
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