Jotun: Valhalla Edition review
Thunder Lotus Games’ first outing began life as a Kickstarter dream, like many indie titles in recent years, and after a successful run on the PC, the title has made its transition to console.
You play as Thora, a Viking warrior maiden who, after dying an inglorious death at sea, is given a chance to ascend and join her ancestors in Valhalla by impressing the gods. In order to do so she must overcome the Jotun inhabiting the many realms in the world.
Each Jotun is protected by a rune gate, and in order to face them in battle you must first collect a series of runes to unlock the seal holding the gate shut. These runes are secreted within areas of the nine realms, and will see you take your trusty battle axe from the roots of the world tree Yggdrasill, where Nidhogg eternally gnaws on its roots, to the forge of Brokkr where the god’s weapons were forged.
Although the combat is fluid and responsive, it is seldom used outside the fights with the towering Jotun. With each swing of your giant axe being methodical and rhythmic, and ultimately taking considerable time to complete, each attack must be timed perfectly in its execution. It is to its merit that this lack of consistent combat does not in any way detract from the pacing of the game, but actually goes to empathise the engaging story and mythos involved in Thora’s attempt to redeem herself.
To assist in your journey, you can pray at the shrine of one of the many gods you may come across, and they can bestow you with a new skill. These range from simple healing or increased speed, to the ability to create an illusion that will attract all enemies to it before exploding.
Boss fights are impressive affairs, as the Jotun tower over your comparatively tiny character, and have attacks that can devastate your health in a few blows, you must deduce the pattern of attacks in order to fell these behemoths. It’s all a bit nostalgic, reminiscent of the boss fights of yore.
Jotun has a pretty distinct graphical style, a little bit like a cross between Odin Sphere, Valkyria Chronicles and Shadow of the Colossus, with its beautifully stylised artwork filled with little nuanced references to the Norse mythos pantheon throughout. Coupled with the narrator’s dialogue, with his snippets of facts and tales from the mythos that describes the history of the mythology revealed in either the fore or background, it’s an impressive and unique presentation.
The only negative I can attribute to Jotun, is that once the story has played out you are left with little reason to return to the game, largely given the lack of combat throughout and the reliance upon the lore to pull you through to the end.
Overall, this is a fantastic, enjoyable and polished action game, whose story will quickly suck you in and wont let go.
Thanks to Xbox and Thunder Lotus Games for supporting TiX