My name is Jack Longman and this is The Jacketendo Review, the two-in-one game review that caters to all kind of readers as it consists of both a fast and a short review and a slow and long one. Undergoing The Jacktendo Review today is the axe-swinging, giant challenging adventure, Jotun: Valhalla Edition for the Wii U.
*To anyone who’s here just for the score, you’ll find it near the end of the review.
Jotun in a Nutshell: (The Speedy Review)
Developed by Thunder Lotus Games, and initially released on PC last year, Jotun is the action-adventure title, which sees recently deceased Thora granted the opportunity to prove herself worthy of entering Valhalla, but proving herself is by no means a small task as there are five giant bosses in her way, runes to be found and a particular God who can not wait to challenge her.
Despite being an action game, other than the actual boss battles, there isn’t really that much action, due to an inferior amount of enemies. Instead the levels are packed with interesting puzzles that change with each location that will challenge you to the same extend a Zelda game would. But the story is good, the detail into Norse mythology system is even better and the gaming experience is one you won’t forget. Yes the game is short and would have been better if it was longer, but even a well written short story can be better than a full length novel and Jotun possesses a great story.
Even the hand-drawn art, which some would argue looks a bit basic at first glance, but when you’re exploring a level and you’re presented with shot of this huge, detailed background, there’s nothing basic about that and Jotun has a great soundtrack to boot too. All in all, Jotun, regardless of what platform you’re playing it on, is a great game and it is certainly an indie game that’s worth the purchase. As for what is different between the Jotun we had and Jotun: Valhalla Edition, we get to take on each of the game’s bosses once more, except this time they’re a lot harder!
Developed by the Montreal based Thunder Lotus Games, Jotun: Valhalla Edition, is mostly the same old Jotun we saw released in 2015, but now comes equipped with the new Valhalla mode, hence the change of name. But I’ll get to Valhalla Mode later, first let’s talk about what Jotun is.
Jotun is action-adventure that revolves around the journey of a female Viking named Thora and it is jam-packed with factual Norse mythology. Having spoken to Will Dubé last month, we spoke about how much time the team spent researching Norse mythology and how anal they were about making sure every detail about the game was spot on and as someone who did learn a lot about the subject during his school years, I was paying the game a lot of attention and I’ve got to say, their attention to detail and research was very thorough indeed! So good job on that front guys. But how’s the story?
Well as said above, Jotun is the story of Thora, but what I didn’t say is that Thora is a Viking who led a glorious life, yet suffered an inglorious death, only to be granted a second chance of entering Valhalla by the Allfather, Odin. But this will be no simple challenge, as Thora will need to traverse strange lands, and defeat the 5 Jotun, (elemental Norse Giants,) who stand between her and paradise. Still Thora is a warrior, and as well as a two-handed axe, she also has Gods on her side, ready to answer her wishes, provided she finds each of their shrines.As with any great game with a mysterious protagonist, as we progress through Thora’s epic quest, we get to learn a little more about the heroine at every interval. We hear her speak of her father, her brother, the life she led and how her life ended. But what stands 0ut the most about her story when Thora narrates her tale in her native tongue, is the way it is done. Instead of too much, too soon, it’s short and lasting, causing you to play longer than intended and that’s the kind of story telling this writer loves most about video games. To me story is what makes a game, not the graphics and yes Jotun is actually a short game, the story isn’t and there is so much Thunder Lotus Games can do with it. A story, regardless of its length should always leave you wanting more and that is what happens here and that is why regardless of length, Jotun is a game a lot of us will play over and over again.
After story, the second most important factor in my book is atmosphere and atmosphere to me, means tone, music and setting and since Jotun features a great soundtrack that is great every single time you hear it and the tone is a tale of redemption in the afterlife, you can’t get much better than that unless you had epic boss battles against giant, formidable foes and, oh yeah, Jotun has that too! Between 5 Jotun to fight and a certain God who is also eager to test your skills in battle and each deadly duel could not be any more different. Even better is the fact even the simplest of mistakes can greatly cost you and I absolutely love that. Sure the game consists of hand-drawn animation, so visually you would think that it would hamper the boss battles, but it doesn’t. If anything it adds to it by giving it that Disney movie charm and if you really pay attention to the game, there will be some scenery that will just blow you away!
But the game isn’t all about battling giants, there’s plenty of exploring to do and with 9 levels full of concepts and puzzles that actually makes them differ greatly, it’s really hard not to like them. Yes some may make you get lost and others will make you curse, but with differing scenery and intriguing puzzles that will see you chop down tress and roll boulders into molten lava to form a pathway. In a lot of ways, this game reminds me so much of what we saw of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, except the big difference between the two is I’ve played and love Jotun, I haven’t played Breath of Wild yet though. Interestingly though, despite there being 9 levels to explore, packed with puzzles, there’s not a lot of enemies. In fact there’s hardly any enemies in the whole game and yet it works, because the levels make up for this fact by being fairly hazardous anyway. So you better make sure you explore every nook and cranny of the map you possible can, because there are God Shrines to find, to grant Thora God Powers. Golden Ithunn Apples that increase Thora’s Life metre and the all-important Runes, which are crucial to collect, because if you don’t collect each rune from each region, you won’t be taking on the Jotun any time soon!
As far as the God Powers go there are 6 in all and they go a long way in helping you out in those boss bottles. Use both Freya’s Speed and Thor’s Hammer at the same time, and you can deal some serious damage, but you best be quick about it because the powers don’t last long, so make every second count! Now provided you do play the Wii U version of the game, boss fights will be a little easier, as the GamePad can be used to activate God Powers as well as displaying the map, so instead of cycling through them to the one you want to use, you simply press it and you’re away and if you can master that and beat the game, then maybe you’ll be ready to undertake Valhalla Mode. Just because you were able to beat each one of the Jotun once, doesn’t necessarily mean you can beat them again, because if you found them challenging before, now they’re a nightmare and Hagalaz, the Storm Jotun becomes a true menace! (Even Link equipped with the Master Sword would have difficulty fighting this giant.)
Playing through the game, I died a lot and Hagalaz is responsible for more deaths than I am willing to admit. So I may not have impressed the Gods, but Jotun impressed me with its story, its art, its music and its gameplay! It is an indie game that can be enjoyed over and over and leaves you with a craving for more, so congrats Thunder Lotus Games, you made something special with this and that’s why I rate Jotun: Valhalla Edition for the Wii U, a 9 out of 10!
THE VERDICT: 9/10