VIKINGS! LADY VIKINGS! BEAUTIFULLY ANIMATED LADY VIKINGS!
Thats right, we’re talking about Jotun, a game seemingly everyone missed out on. And that, my friends, is a tragedy.
Jotun is a hand drawn, slash ’em up brawler set in the deep dark corners of Norse mythology. Developed by a very small team from Thunder Lotus Games, Jotun was a a crowdfunded project that asked for very little money ($50,000) to make a very demanding idea come to life.
You play the muscle bound Thora, a shieldmaiden on a quest to prove herself to the very pushy gods. But she drowns. So…good job? Not content with letting a mighty warrior die a relatively weak death, you are resurrected by the gods and fight for your place in the shiny halls of Valhalla, alongside Immortan Joe’s warboys and some confused looking tourists.
Find runes, fight everything and best some off the coolest looking bosses the indie scene has ever produced.
But what really makes Jotun awesome is the artstyle. Everything you see in the game is entirely hand drawn, from characters to the stunning backdrops as you travel your perilous journey into the unknown. It creates a wonderful sense of ambiance, as everything is just overwhelmingly charming. Icelands, forests and deep dark caves filled with stinking dwarves all make an appearance as Thora murders her way across the world.
Speaking of atmosphere, the guys who made Jotun are not screwing around with the setting by any means. All voice acting is in Icelandic, with guttural narration following through the quest ahead, keeping your focus on where you are and why. And the music, a mix of orchestral scores and Nordic verse, certainly adds to the bigger picture in a significant way.
Gameplay is simple but sweet, with two types of axe attack, dodging and various abilities gifted by the gods. The abilities play a major role later in the game, especially when it comes to the monstrous bosses, all of which demanding a rock solid strategy to best.
And those boss fight, dear lord are they something. Huge towering monsters, giant sea serpents and demons crash down hard upon you as you valiantly struggle to pathetically chip away at their ankles in defiance. They’re the true highlight of Jotun, and become hugely rewarding climatic finishers to the challenging levels. They all look phenomenally cool, and effectively convey the the scale of the game in a way that is both intimating and captivating.
The one major flaw in an otherwise awesome experience is the level layout, which favors tedious puzzle solving over balls to the wall action. By reserving the most of the fighting to the excellent boss battles, it does ensure there is more thrill to the combat when it does appear, but the few enemies you do fight in between are scarce. It can at times bring the game down to a crawl, but thankfully this isn’t a deal breaker by any means.
If you love yourself some sick ass Norse god smacking action, and thirst to see your enemies driven before you, Jotun is an absolute blast. Once you look past some dull puzzle solving and get the chance to square off with the mighty bosses while enjoying the gorgeous art, you’ll be in for one hell of a ride.
TO VALHALLA! Just dress less shiny and chrome and more furry and horny this time around.