Reviewed on PS4. Copy Supplied by publisher.
I really wanted to enjoy Jotun, but to reach that point I had to admit something to myself, one dark secret, I deeply deeply suck at it. I nearly gave up on the game several times during my play through. On paper the stylistic hand drawn action adventure game is fascinating, the art is beyond amazing, the Norse setting compelling, the music faultless and the Icelandic voice acting brilliant, however the sheer ball crushing difficulty made it hard for me to persevere with.
Jotun made the transition to console on September 8, however I’m only writing about it now because it took me this long to get through the brutal gameplay. I was aware of the game when it came out last year on Steam, however this was the first time I actually played it, and although it made me want to punt my PlayStation off a bridge, I’m glad I stuck with it.
Usually I’m not one for hard games, as I’ve discussed before in relation to Dark Souls and the addition of an easy mode, but this one kind of grew on me. Jotun tells the story of Thora, a recently deceased Viking woman who must impress the gods before she can enter Valhalla. It turns out the gods are kind of dicks because they are only really impressed when Thora slaps down titans with her trusty axe.
Progressing through beautiful hand drawn worlds, the story takes Thora on a cosmic trip into Viking lore. Each level consists of two parts to discover elemental runes, which unlock a boss battle. The rune unlocking levels are relatively simple and don’t pose much of a problem, in fact most of them are similar to a walking simulator with a handful of danger elements. However once you have both runes is when things become interesting. Opening up a mystical door you can now smack talk a titan with your axe, something that can take a very very long time to do. To add a little perspective, the second boss, Fe, took me around four hours to kill.
It’s not that I didn’t know what to do that took so long, more the fact I couldn’t do it. I watched tutorials, I read walkthroughs, yet I was still stomped on consistently by this giant asshole.
The thing with this battle is that the boss is surrounded by an army of dwarves who rush you and make your time a giant pain in the axehole. It’s chaotic and each attempt differs, which is the general rule of engagement for fighting titans. Taking a titan down is worth all the heartache though, as the feeling of triumph is overwhelming, nothing beats the sheer wave of euphoria I got after chopping down Fe.
Aside from fighting bosses you can explore each area to discover, lore, health bar increases and powers ups in the form of god powers. The god powers include health boosts, damage amplifiers, speed multipliers and shields, and they really make your time spent in boss fights easier, however finding them can be difficult, and wandering around the maps searching isn’t the most exciting, no matter how beautiful it is.
On paper the game is pretty short, but it’s really padded out by the difficulty. Those who especially despise themselves and want more of a challenge will be pleased to know that the Valhalla Edition, which is the console version and new PC version, contains a boss rush mode with even fiercer boss fights.
Jotun is available on PC, Wii U, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.