In Norse mythology the Jotun were giants who were some of the first living creatures ever created. In the game of the same name your job is take them down. It won’t be easy, but you’ll love every minute of it.
Jotun tells the story of Thora, a Norse warrior who has died an inglorious death. As such, her entry to Valhalla is not assured and she finds herself in Ginnungagap, the void between worlds. Because she lived a glorious life she has been given a second chance to prove her worth. If she can defeat the five elemental Jotun she’ll get her ticket to paradise.
In order to fight the Jotun Thora will need to obtain runes which are hidden inside different levels. While she explores these levels she can also pick up apples, which extend her health meter, and be gifted with various powers of the gods, giving her special abilities like extra speed and stronger attacks or defense. Once the runes of an area have been obtained the battle with the Jotun can begin. As Jotun are defeated Thora tells you a little about her own backstory and the story that led her to this place is revealed.
If you’re familiar with Norse mythology, or even just Marvel’s Thor movies, you’ll recognize many of the names of the gods and monsters that you come across. Thora is a refreshing character in that she’s a viking woman who looks like you might expect such a woman to look. She’s obviously physically strong, wears full body armor, and knows how to swing an axe.
Death Has Never Been Prettier
The first thing you’ll notice about Jotun is the art style. The game is entirely hand-drawn, and that care certainly shows in the beautiful scenery you’ll be traversing throughout the game. At various times the camera will pull back and give you sweeping looks at magnificent vistas. Each level is unique and interesting to look at and explore.
While the game is not particularly complicated, it’s also not going to hold your hand. The game drops you right into its world without so much as button prompts to tell you how everything works. You have a map available in the pause screen but it doesn’t tell you where you are or what the icons mean. It’s not difficult to figure out, but you’ll likely need to do it if you want to easily navigate some of the larger levels.
The two key aspects of the game are exploration and combat, but those two things are handled in two very distinct ways. While there are enemies to defeat in some of the levels, others are entirely void of life other than yourself. Instead the levels focus on simply the exploration of each new world and the discovery of the items you need to grow stronger and progress. There are still plenty of obstacles in each world that might kill you, but once you learn how each works avoiding them is fairly easy. Puzzles are simple to understand but still rewarding to solve.
When you enter into battle with the Jotun is when the real fighting happens. Armed with a double-bladed axe with a fast light attack and a slower strong attack, you take on massive giants. It has something of a Shadow of the Colossus feel as you attempt to take down something that utterly dwarfs you. Your own character becomes tiny in order to fit the entire Jotun into the frame. Like the level in which you find them each Jotun is a unique creature with a variety of phases to their attacks. These are not battles to be taken on lightly. The Jotun’s strength is on par with their size and each has the ability to make short work of Thora if you’re not able to avoid their attacks. You will likely die a lot, but that’s okay.
Even the Jotun’s that are difficult are not frustratingly so. The battles are fun and always interesting to look at so you’ll likely be willing to try again when you die. My only instances of real frustration were when I felt that I was out of range of a Jotun’s strike only to get utterly clobbered and lose a third of my life. To be fair it worked both ways, as there were times that I didn’t seem to be close enough to hit the behemoth but a swing of the axe did connect. The only problem is that Thora doesn’t do nearly the damage that the Jotun can do, so it isn’t exactly an even trade.
There is some help to be had however. All of the game's levels are open at the beginning which allows you to explore and attack in any order. This also means that you can pick up the various power-ups at any time, so if you need a little extra firepower to take down your current Jotun you can find it elsewhere and come back.