Friday, 1 August 2014

Early Access First Impressions: 'Jotun'

'Early Access First Impressions' is just that, first impressions. This is not a review, and is heavily opinionated.

Let's be honest, Vikings are bloody awesome. Norse themes are awesome. Rape and pillaging is awe.. no wait, that's not so awesome. The mythology at least has grabbed my attention and so I draw your attention to Jotun!
Jotun is an action-exploration game for PC and Mac that takes you on an epic journey through Viking purgatory.
In this 2D top-down game, the devs want to create the perfect balance of exploration, discovery and combat. Inspiration has been derived from Shadow of the Colossus in that respect. You will explore the landscape in the search for Runes with which to summon the 'gigantic Norse elementals'. Defeating them will appease the gods, and secure your exit from purgatory.

The hook of Shadow of the Colossus was the idea of fighting huge monsters, climbing them and delivering the killing blow in the most risky (and sometimes frustrating) circumstances. The video unfortunately doesn't reveal any actual combat, but a still rendering teases a jotun's ice breath attack.

Inspired by the mechanics of The Legend of Zelda and SSB, the combat in Jotun is fast-paced and organic. Fighting the jotun requires the ability to dodge projectiles, use proper positioning and attack at the right moment.

Unlike SotC, Jotun will require puzzle solving in order to progress, which will be a welcome addition alongside the solemn loneliness of exploration. For me, in SotC the 3D aspect emphasised the solitude, and created a sense of emotional depth (something I believe a 2D medium may struggle to recreate). Considering the top down perspective, there is no landscape to peer across and to remind you of your insignificance. However, I hope to be proven wrong.

The game looks beautifully rendered, a bright colourful palette along with an art style reminiscent of The Banner Saga (come on, it came out recently so I'm bound to draw comparisons), but I consider this a hell of a good thing personally!

The Kickstarter itself is concise and direct, with a video of gameplay albeit (as I mention above) without any actual combat or detailed puzzle solving. Despite the lack of 'gameplay', the page is well presented; simple and to the point. It's also always nice to get a look at the individual developers and their past work, for reassurance of the quality of the project. There is a brief financial breakdown which again, is nice to see as a potential investor.

Our goal is to reach alpha within six months, beta within nine months and full launch within twelve months. Therefore Jotun will be released in September 2015.

The reward tiers are broken down into a table, which I haven't seen done before on a Kickstarter; I appreciate how simplified the devs have presented this, as in the past I have been very confused/frustrated by seeing higher tiers offer identical (or even lesser) rewards. Stretch goals are few and far between, but as they said in their video: perhaps community input could influence the direction of the development.

I'm excited for this, and considering that it's got $31,243 of $50,000 funded already (Canadian; at time of writing), there's obviously plenty of other Norse souls excited for it too.  I'll be waiting for some combat footage before I pledge, but I'm optimistic I'll open my wallet! Go have a look and see for yourself! -oP


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