Review – Jusant

Jusant: “An ebb, or low tide.” The world of Jusant is a world-event apocalyptic one. With no rain and its oceans now dried out, you and your pet-like companion journey the expansive seabed, passing forgotten wreckages on your approach to a literal cliffside fishing village. Jusant is very much, for better or for worse, a walking sim in every sense of the word. Well, a climbing sim, as you stare up and your journey now goes from horizontal, to being a vertical one.

Jusant climbing

Beginning the ascent.

Quickly you are introduced to Jusant’s gameplay, and what makes it stand out from standard walking sims. Anchoring yourself before scaling the massive surface, you use your left stick to dictate direction, and your trigger buttons to simulate gripping and releasing climbing points. Leaping to just out of reach juts, swinging to even further ones, repelling down, finding resting spots to regain your stamina, placing additional anchor to limit fail points; this is Jusant.

Reaching left, then right is a simple yet highly effective solution to avoiding the lethargy that can come with playing these types of games. You don’t notice it at first, but somewhere along the line, climbing just feels the natural way to approach every explorable corner of the village. The letters, notes and collectibles begin to take second chair, as the challenge of finding and getting to these places becomes the paramount focus, and the real puzzle and challenge becomes finding where to progress, rather than how.

To help you with this, is your mysterious and slightly mythical companion pet; a small blue floating blob that can use a type of echolocation to ping nearby points of interest that you may want to make your way to, and instigating growth in long dormant flora.

Jusant flora and fauna

Don’t look down.

As you scale the mountain, your terrain types and challenges change to fit the environment. Scaling the sunlit side of the mountain causes you to tire more easily. Higher up, jumping against the wind forces you in that direction, so timing becomes important. With no chance of falling to your death, this is little more than a strategic obstacle, but it achieves the remaining the challenge of reaching new ledges to discover literal echoes of former life and society. People used to live there, and something forced people to flee.

Like the gameplay, the story also starts slowly. Step by step, you find yourself paying attention. Lives and events suddenly become familiar. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really take hold until you are more than halfway done with the six hour story. Early, the story is entirely told in the letters and notes you find along the way, which becomes easy to lose interest in. It isn’t until hours later that you begin seeing your actions directly affecting the story and it becomes a story you create, in addition to the one you unearth.

logbook entries

Third verse, same as the first.

If anything, this is probably my biggest detraction from Jusant. It did pull me in, but not before I found myself extremely bored in both gameplay and story in these early stages. To the point that even with the climbing in lieu of walking; I played this game before, too many times before, and I will again. Simply climbing from point A to point B, reading letters and notes left on doors, was not satisfying in any way.

Jusant is an indie title, through and through, all the way down to its beautifully limited graphics. Presented in almost a claymation sort of way, the characters and the environment have an unearthed life and beauty, much like an oasis in a desert. Each level brings a new environment that feels appropriate for the setting, and its introduction to new challenges. Spying your origin in the distance, and the destination above, can be breathtaking, seeing just how far you have come. The world feels both to have been lived in, and deserted. This is just as much to do with the sound as well. Discovering conches in different areas reveals a livelihood for that part of the village. A way of living the villagers embraced. A way of hardship they couldn’t overcome. There are no spoken words, but the world speaks. Wind whips across your body, chimes play an organic melody, unearthed creatures below as they awaken.


How’s it hangin’?

While Don’t Nod is no stranger to titles that focus more on exploration and emotional pull, they rarely do so with such Annapurna levels of “indie”. Yet that is exactly what Jusant is: a silent, emotional, walking sim where the true puzzles are collecting all the remnants of the civilization that has been lost, and the mystery of what exactly happened. In this, Jusant is as beautifully presented and told as any before it, but I just couldn’t escape the feeling that I have already played this game, five other times, every year.


Graphics: 8.0

Beautiful claymation-like characters and environment that feels as alive as it does forgotten.

Gameplay: 7.0

Simple and subtle solution to the “walking” of a walking sim. Surprisingly full climbing mechanics with a simple practice.

Sound: 9.0

Entirely reliant on ambient sounds, the wind howling more the higher you go, the forgotten living areas, and the echoes of life inside cavernous spaces.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Slow start, but in time, the relaxing climbing and exploring somehow become fulfilling as the story becomes more of creation than of uncovering.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Jusant is available now on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Jusant was provided by the publisher.