Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Jotun. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
Like clockwork, every year about this time I end up writing about some game that comes out of nowhere and surprises the hell out of me. It's usually an independent game and there's almost no coverage before it's release. Last year it was The Talos Principle and the year before that it was Starbound. This year, the little game that's throwing my annual game of the year awards for a loop is Jotun. Haven't heard of it yet? Don't worry, you will. It's a gorgeous game with easy to use mechanics and rewarding exploration and boss fights. It may sound like a simple equation but it's one that Jotun carries out almost to perfection.
In Jotun, players control Thora, a Viking maiden who drowns when she falls of her boat. Denied passage to Valhalla (only those who die in battle are given entry), Thora is given another chance to prove her worth and she's tasked with killing the Jotun, or the Titans of Norse mythology. It's a simple tale but it's made all the more personal thanks to Thunder Lotus Games' dedication to authenticity. The entire game, from narration to Thora's voice work is done in her native Icelandic tongue. It's a bit of a gamble but makes the adventure and Thora's plight feel even more personal big and hearing the gods call down to Thora in their often boomings voices feels great.
One look at Jotun though and it's clear - this a gorgeous game. The hand drawn worlds are breathtaking and the animations of the characters and objects in the world are pure wonders to look at. Jotun is beautiful and often captivating. It's gorgeous and unique. I'm running out of adjectives to describe Jotun but it's easily one of the best looking games of the year but what's perhaps more important is that the visuals are used in a way that they also manage to serve the story. Jotun looks and feels like a storybook and there are little references to norse mythology nearly everywhere you look. I'm not ashamed to say that in my high school and college years I went through a phase where I researched all I could about any kind of mythology I could get my hands on and I was fascinated by so much in Jotun's world. Are there some creative liberties taken? Of course, but they also make for a much better game.
As gorgeous as Jotun looks though, what really makes its worth playing is how remarkably simple yet rewarding it's mechanics are. Jotun is incredibly easy to pick up and play but it takes a lot of practice and strategy to actually master it. Like most brawlers, Jotun gives Thora a few basic attacks, a quick and lights slash, a slow and powerful heavy attack and a dodge. Finding shrines to different gods will give you access to different powers and abilities. Thor for instance gives you access to Mjolnir and Loki grants you access to an exploding decoy. None of these abilities give you an instant out to defeat any enemy in the game as they're limited and need to be used in the right situation. Experimenting with these abilities and Thora's core mechanics led to many failed encounters but damn was it worth it when I succeeded.
You can tackle any of Jotun's stages in any order you want, and they're deceptively linear. Go around, smash enemies and collect power-ups. My only complaint about all of this was the few times that I ended up having to backtrack to find a switch or power-up that I wasn't even sure I knew I was looking for. Regardless, every level gets you to the game's biggest attraction, the Jotun themselves. These boss battles are everything I love about games, they're huge, they're challenging and incredibly rewarding to take down. It was a lot of fun to match the abilities that I had gained and try to figure out a way to defeat these new enemies that often take up more than half the screen, dwarfing Thora in the process. I may have thrown my controller down a few times in frustration, but it never deterred me from playing and keeping me from trying again.
Jotun takes nearly everything I love about games and wraps it up in a tiny little package. Giant boss fights? Check. Easy to pick up but surprisingly deep mechanics? Oh yeah. Breath taking visuals? Yup. Jotun is this year's game that your friends are going to be talking about early next year and it'll likely launch for a slew of new platforms but do yourself a favor and play it as soon as possible, it's a truly fantastic little game.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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