Jotun is rooted in its mythos and its grip never falters. That aspect drove me to fight my way through the onslaught of bosses to prove myself worthy to the gods. It’s a short romp through the Norse themed game, but it proves it worth in style alone.
The opening cinematic had a different flair than the rest of the game. It had more of a rounded cartoon look to it with softer corners and muted colors. My intrigue was activated from the quick beginning, but I was fully submerged when I was dropped into the first area. There came a point right after taking control of Thora; where you walk to a hillside and the camera zooms out to reveal the landscape below. It was beautiful. The hand drawn aesthetic of the game shined from there until the final screenshot.
The vision Thunder Lotus Games had for this game was realized every step of the way. There isn’t a single point in this game that doesn’t bleed it’s vision. Having Icelandic voice work makes it even more fleshed out. It’s a beautiful language paired with the incredible voice actors, its a match made in Valhalla. Vision is one of the aspects that can make a good game great. When I think back to games that encapsulated their vision with atmosphere, Bioshock and Metroid Prime come to mind. When moving away from first person it can be a little more complicated to nail down that style. Super Giant Games creations of Bastion and Transistor are action-adventure games that are completely wrapped up in their own style. All those games reveled in their atmospheres and Jotun is a contender to be right alongside them in that aspect.
Thunder Lotus Games focused on creating a hand-drawn game which I think complimented the overall style. The environments are lush in hues and the characters are sharply outlined to give them a pop. The giant bosses fill the screen and rise into the foreground for some captivating and tense encounters. The animations, particularly in boss fights, are top-notch. This seems to go right along with the hand-drawn visuals to make a wonderful experience for the player.
The game has enough variety within the environments and level design to keep the player engaged while finding each of the runes to gain access to battle the next boss. Ultimately, Jotun is about the big boss fights and there isn’t anything wrong with that. I like the refreshing take of some the stages, where there isn’t a single enemy to harm you except for the environment itself. Some of the areas can seem slightly vacant, but I think that was the point for a few of the level designs.
Game play is simple and easy to get a handle on. There are a handful of powers that you are granted from various shrines of the gods located in the levels. The shrines will either increase the power usage or give you a new a skill. The hunt for all the shrines and golden apples to increase Thora’s health will keep completionists busy for a while.
I conquered the game within four sittings. It had its hooks in me and I wanted to keep opening up those pretty looking rune doors one after the other. The bosses get more difficult fairly quickly. A lot of reviews have been talking about the brutal difficulty of the game. It’s a hard game, but I wouldn’t call it brutal. If you’re looking for a fun and stylish action-exploration game, Jotun will not steer you wrong.
If you want a first look at the game – I decided to record my gameplay of Jotun. Check out the video below.