Scaling New Heights! Learn More About Jusant’s Innovative Climbing System
By: Kevin Poupard & Mathieu Beaudelin, Co-Creative Directors
In a world devoid of water sits a tower so tall that it stretches beyond the clouds. What is this structure? What lies at the top? What happened to all the people? There’s only one way to find out – climb.
Hello readers! Jusant, our action-puzzle climber, is out! In this blog post, we wanted to talk more about what you’ll be doing the most – climbing. The climbing gameplay loop is the core of Jusant. This project was created around the idea of having one strong core gameplay mechanic that can provide enough challenge and variation throughout the entire game.
We wanted the experience to start with the player having all the tools and mechanics. The idea is that with time and perseverance you will master climbing and be able to pull off combinations of moves and make it all flow together almost like a dance. The gameplay links you with the main character which also helps achieve that flow: having each trigger directly control an arm – where you hold it down to grip and release to let go – was important for us to give players perfect control over the character and provide a bit of pressure too. Games like Grow Home and Death Stranding inspired us in terms of connecting players to the body of the character.
Our climbing system stands out because it’s at the very center of the game as opposed to being a side mechanic. It’s more than just climbing too – it’s looking and choosing which way to go and how best to get there. Think of each wall as a puzzle, and your tools as the key to solving them. Sometimes the path ahead is clear and others not; you’ll have to look around and see where to go.
Let’s get more specific about these tools then. In Jusant, you have a rope, three pitons, multiple climbing ‘moves’, and a stamina meter.
Your rope automatically snaps to designated sections on the main paths and of course its purpose is to mitigate the risk of falling. In Jusant, you can’t die! We don’t want to punish players for failing, instead we want the game to be meditative. You will have to keep an eye on it though because it’ll change color depending on how much rope is left.
The pitons can be put in the walls and removed when you wind in the rope. They allow you to create mini checkpoints where if you fall, you’ll stop at the last piton you placed and not at the bottom of the wall.
Using the above tools, players can not only climb but swing in the air, rappel up and down the rope, run on walls, jump, and more. You’ll need to preserve your stamina to make sure you don’t get too tired and fall. The flow we mentioned earlier is about managing the combination of all these mechanics while managing your stamina. But don’t worry – it can be recharged by taking a break and shaking your arms out.
There’s one more thing to help you on your climb – your companion, the Ballast. You’ll soon learn that this enigmatic creature in your backpack has some kind of connection to the tower and can wake up its nature to reveal other paths and help you climb higher. It also uses its echo ability to scan the environment and guide you by highlighting your next destination and other points of interest. To bring variation in the environment and gameplay, there are different biomes where nature provides new challenges. Plants, sun, wind, and living creatures can be a help or a hindrance and this is where the Ballast shines.
From a narration point of view, the Ballast is the only trace of water you see on your ascent and it’s a constant reminder of the lack of water in this world. It acts as the connection to nature that we’ve lost and explains why it has abilities that we do not. The symbiosis between the two tells a story of mutual aid – neither can reach the top on their own, but together they can succeed.
We hope to surprise you all with this new approach to climbing and exploring. Moving upwards instead of forwards as a main feature for a single experience was something creatively challenging but we hope we’ve pulled it off. At its core, Jusant is not a climbing sim, but an adventure game made for the many.
Speaking of – while we strongly believe in the default control scheme to have that connection between you and the main character, we are listening to feedback regarding the difficulty for some to hold down the triggers. We have planned a future patch to introduce accessibility features such as a simplified climbing mode which doesn’t require holding down buttons, jump assistance, and no stamina mode which disables the stamina mechanic altogether.
You will be able to truly play as you like in Jusant and we hope you all enjoy reaching the top. It’s time to climb!