Xbox Game Pass free day one download is year’s most serene adventure
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Featured Image Credit: Don't Nod
It’s a great litmus for a game if you’re still thinking about it several weeks after finishing up a playthrough. Certain moments come to mind and whisk you away, in this instance, back to the gaps in a cliff face, watching the scenes in the distance or exploring the serene isolation.
Jusant, which means ‘to ebb’ in French, launched for Xbox Game Pass on its release day. The game is simple to summarise; you play a child who has found a small exotic creature and you must return it to its family who live in the sky. To do this, you have to climb a sheer mountain that stands alone in a desert.
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There’s more to it than just this. The mountain, for example, is a vertical village with small outposts dotted across its surface, all of which are abandoned due to a drought. Most people migrated downwards and went off to explore the desert looking for a water source. It’s a beautiful, but slightly sad, world. One that feels surprisingly prescient given our planet’s free fall toward climate change.
The more places you explore, the more notes you find from past villagers who were simply looking for a better life. One such person, who was climbing up instead of down, was doing so to research the creatures who lived in the sky and were said to control the rain. These large whale-type creatures are called Ballasts and sound familiarly like the critter hiding in your backpack.
I’m not usually one to seek out and read notes in games, but throughout Jusant, I found myself wanting to know more and more about its people. Hope is subtle to the messages and each one urged me to find out if its author got a happy ending, or not.
We’re not here for the notes and letters though, we’re here for the climbing, which is performed via the triggers on the controller. The right trigger engages the grip on the right hand, for example, and you will be shimmying, climbing, swinging, and scurrying across the cliff to reach your next safe zone. A safety rope stops any perilous falls and you can add your anchor points as you climb. Jusant quickly becomes a puzzle game of trying to figure out the best route to progress, but also keep your stamina in check.
Jusant conjures many small moments; it might be the gorgeous views as you climb; or maybe the updrafts of wind which gust you to far off hand holds; perhaps it’s the rock-like creatures that can be held and will carry you across the surface to your next checkpoint. There are points where you can collect a seashell and hold it to your ear to hear the sounds of the village when it was bustling, or you’ll find a tucked-away shrine that glows when your little friend sends out a pulse of energy. The same pulse of energy that can make vines grow extra hand holds for the climb.
Jusant delivers a very strange and beautiful world of desolation, one that has a history and a people that you learn to love through simple notes and discarded items. The act of climbing is often peaceful, and meditative; the cut scenes that show the love of the little Ballast and our protagonist are adorable.
This is an experience that lasts only a few evenings but consistently delivers wonderful moments, many of which may linger in your mind for the weeks following your ascent.