Jusant review: Dare to reach the summit in this breathtaking action-puzzler

Meera Jacka
Jusant review

We return to the world of Jusant to finally conquer the mysterious tower and uncover what secrets lie strewn across its jagged cliffs.

Independent video game developer Don’t Nod has done it again, proving their prowess in bringing gamers an experience that is immersive, powerful, and thought-provoking.

Offering unique gameplay, stunning visuals, and a captivating story, Jusant puts the player in control of a lone wanderer, the protagonist of this tale. Guiding his every move, the journey takes you on a thrilling ascent up a desolate tower.

The remains of civilization await exploration with treacherous routes to climb and a wordless story whispered through the ruins. Jusant defies expectations of what an action-puzzle climbing game can be and — after getting to play an early preview build — the full game just as well an absolute treat.

Jusant – Key details

  • Price: $24.99 USD | £22.49 GBP | $37.45 AUD
  • Developer: Don’t Nod
  • Release date: October 31, 2023
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X | S, & PS5

Jusant trailer

Where the water once was: Exploring the world of Jusant

Jusant is a French term describing the ebb and flow of the tide, used in maritime and coastal contexts. In this case, the tide has well and truly receded. Water is a relic of the past, rain a fable told to children.

A giant tower stands against the periwinkle sky, desert plains stretching out on all sides. At first glance, Jusant’s world is barren and desolate. But the shipwrecks scattered across the dunes and the abandoned villages carved into the tower’s cliff face tell a different story.

Having already played three hours for the preview a few weeks prior, a second climb proved to be just as exhilarating. There was more to find and new ways to climb; the world of Jusant is rich and vibrant, filled with forgotten artifacts and the remnants of life long gone.

Jusant world
Jusant’s vibrant world offers much to discover, from breathtaking views to relics from the past.

Jusant is a visual sensation. From its contrasted color scheme to its vast views and bioluminescent tunnels, the attention to detail is immaculate. In every direction, the world comes together and offers new sights to spot.

And the higher you climb, the more treacherous the environment becomes. The weather changes; the purple hues in the sky give way to clouds and wind. Luckily, you do not face the challenges in Jusant alone.

The Ballast is a small water creature along for the journey and carried on the wanderer’s back. But the Ballast offers more than just companionship, playing an integral role in how players navigate the terrain and in uncovering the tower’s mysterious past. And by the journey’s end, the Ballast will be sure to have won over your heart.

Jusant's Ballast
As well as offering some wonderful company, the Ballast might just hold the key to the tower’s secrets.

Beat the odds and reach the summit: The climb is in your hands

Immeasurably tall, scaling and conquering the tower of Jusant is no small feat. Geared up with rope and climbing gear, players are thrust into the protagonist’s point of view. Suddenly, your controller is responsible for every movement in the game.

Each trigger controls a hand and the left stick guides which direction you take. Jusant doesn’t just offer a distraction, it’s an immersive experience that pulls you into its dystopian universe and places you front and center. You are the protagonist reaching for every handhold, making wild leaps of faith, braving heights never imagined. And best of all, you can’t die.

Pitons prevent fatal falls and platforms offer safe resting grounds. It’s meditative gameplay that offers challenges instead through puzzles strategically intertwined with the harsh environment. There’s also a stamina bar adding urgency to every climb, pitons proving a vital addition for reaching those checkpoints that seem just out of reach. Forget to place one and progress may be painfully lost.

Jusant gameplay
Jusant’s gameplay will have you conquering unimagined heights.

While it is straightforward, the tower is packed with plenty of obstacles, passages, flora and fauna, and varied topography that will require you to hone your skills and learn new tricks. With the Ballast’s help, the story unfolds and the climb to the top brings with it new scenery and further insight.

An occasional glitch may see you stuck in boulders or caught in a difficult position, but these are usually easy to fix with a couple of jumps or a quick ascent back to the most recently placed piton.

Contemplative strings and the wind in your hair

Jusant’s ability to immerse its players comes not just from its unique gameplay and beautiful visuals, but also its impeccable sound design. From shoes scratching against rocks to the protagonist’s breathing becoming labored as the stamina bar sinks — every action is acknowledged.

Scrambling across cliffs, at times the only sound to be heard is the wind rushing past and the earth crumbling under each step. Music is added sparingly, only when needed. The natural environment and how it reacts to the protagonist’s journey is a soundtrack of its own; these are the details that give Jusant some verisimilitude.

Jusant's soundtrack
The soundtrack and design play an integral role in bringing Jusant to life.

Guillaume Ferran composed Jusant’s soundtrack, which is played throughout the game at various significant moments and checkpoints. It’s ethereal and alien, strings and chordophones creating a melody that matches the surreality of the tower.

But above all, it’s hopeful. Despite the tragedy of Jusant’s abandoned tower and the lost water hinting at some messages that hit close to home, this game feels empowering. Each level reached is another sigh of relief, another rush of adrenaline, another accomplishment. Ferran’s work complements this wonderfully.

It’s motivating, and yet soft and soothing all at once — fitting for Jusant’s meditative approach to gaming and proving Don’t Nod’s exceptional skill when it comes to creating atmospheric masterpieces.

Jusant atmospheric
Don’t Nod has proven again their exceptional strength in creating games with mood and atmosphere.

This is not a game that will require a box of tissues, for those fearing a similar route to Don’t Nod’s previous award-winning game, Life Is Strange. Jusant’s messages are less explicit, left in the spaces between thrilling climbs and dangerous absails. It’s up to you whether or not you want to find them.

The Verdict – 5/5

Even without, the game is a beautiful experience that momentarily allows the player to escape from the noise of their everyday life. Its end is brilliantly simple, yet poetic and powerful all the same. You can choose to search for the meaning in every crevice, or simply enjoy the climb. Either way, this is one adventure we recommend you embark on — there’s lots to uncover in the world Jusant offers.

Jusant is available from October 31 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X and Series S. For more on Jusant, be sure to check out our interview with the developers.