Beautiful games are not always good games and good games are not always beautiful. Finding the right mix of aesthetics, game mechanics, and story-telling is what keeps me up at night (on Steam) and when I find a good mix of all three I like to shout it from my digital rooftop. I’m happy to share with you Jotun – a hand-drawn (yes hand-drawn) action, exploration game steeped heavily in Norse mythology. You play as a warrior named Thora whom died in the most lame way possible: her boat crashed and she drowned to death. Fate is on her side however and she is granted the chance to redeem herself and enter Valhalla as long as she can prove her valor to the Gods.
The most striking thing about Jotun are the visuals. Right from the opening scenes explaining the circumstances motivating Thora’s journey, you can tell that the graphics are better than AAA video game quality. Moreover, once the gameplay starts you can tell my the animation of the character models that each part of the game is animated frame-by-frame. Something not often seen within indie games. The game mechanics are straightforward as you have a pretty standard set of attacks you can make against monsters. Sparsely placed enemies have the player focus on the visuals more than trying to achieve any specific goal. Jotun is in direct contrast with Titan Souls, a game reviewed on here earlier.
If Titan Souls wants you to feel constantly pressured and that every move you make is a life-or-death decision, then Jotun wants you to remember that you are already dead. Enjoy the beauty of Yggdrasil before you battle massive Titans to prove your worth so that you may drink and fight with your ancestors in Valhalla. While Titan Souls constantly reminds you of how small you are, Jotun never makes you feel less-than. You feel like a hero. You feel like you can conquer the cold and any foe that stands before you. Jotun is an uplifting game and even as you die and have to repeat certain levels, it never reached a point where I felt pressured or frustrated. The level of difficulty of the bosses is offest by how just damn beautiful everything is around you.
Jotun is currently on sale over at Steam and if you want great gameplay, an intriguing story, and beautiful world-building, I highly suggest picking up a copy.
After quitting his job in January 2014, Will Dubé and friends brought Jotun to Kickstarter in July of the same year. Raising over $64,000 from 2,299 backers, Jotun was also Greenlit in under a week. The success of the Kickstarter campaign consolidated the team and the vision and allowed us to get additionnal funding from the Canadian Media Fund and the Montreal Inc Foundation. Jotun is releasing on Steam (Windows, Mac and Linux) on September 29th, 2015.