Despite an interesting concept, a successful Kickstarter financed and a positive reception by the press and users at its PC premiere, last month Jotun: Valhalla Edition managed to sneak into the consoles of this generation without making hardly any noise.
Do you deserve the work of the Canadian guys of Thunder Lotus Games a little more attention, or should you settle for being another one of so many indies that stay at the gates of glory? Let’s see if the Nordic gods are impressed.
From Ginnungagap to Valhalla: The epic of Thora
Thora is a Viking warrior with a big problem. Well, actually more than one, as she herself is responsible for reporting through brief monologues in Icelandic (great detail of location to give more credibility to the world). But the one that interests us the most, as players, is the one that starts the game: his death during a shipwreck. Interestingly, the
problematic part of truth here is not so much the death itself as the shipwreck, because the legend says that only by falling in combat can the warriors ascend to Valhala, the Asgard hall where heroes and gods meet. Luckily for her, Odin, the most important of them,
has decided to give her a second chance. The “Father of all” will raffle a ticket out of purgatory, known here as Ginnungagap,
With this premise, effective to get into the situation even if we are not familiar with mythology, an adventure begins argumentatively simple, but that integrates two parallel narrative threads: the past of Thora, and several brush strokes that outline a little better
the mythology itself Nordic Even if we arrive without knowing anything, or have as a reference an interpretation as free as Thor in the current
Marvel films, Jotun does a competent job when it comes to exposing, either verbally or visually, characters, places and concepts classics of Scandinavian folklore.
In this way, as soon as we see ourselves gliding through the roots of the Yggdrasil tree, as if dodging the attacks of the snake Jormugandr in an icy lake,
or even using a small magical simulation of the hammer of Thor, Mjolnir, against our enemies. And is that much of the grace lies in that, while Thora narrates some of these details of voice in its perfect Icelandic that we understand thanks to the subtitles, several of them
also find playable or environmental implementations. Certain places, marked on the maps as points of interest, have the sole function of
expanding our knowledge about this world a little more, even if that means taking a detour that for practical purposes will not help our cause of redeeming Thora.
In the shadow of the giants
Because the main objective, and only way to impress the gods to open the doors of Valhala, is to defeat five jotun, something like the equivalents of the Greek titans.
At this point, the reference to Shadow of the Colosus is inevitable, especially when the creators themselves were the first to do it during the presentation of their project on Kickstarter. The bosses capable of filling a screen have been with us since the dawn of the world,
but it is unquestionable that the ICO Team game marked a before and after in that area. Not only did he take the scale to another level, but he transformed
the clashes into a kind of “live” phase, with mechanics that were introduced and developed throughout each combat. This allowed them to base the whole game on them,
In broad strokes, Jotun takes up that approach: exploration has its gratifications (on which we will go into more detail in a moment) and serves to expose the mythological elements that we have already commented, but the main course is each confrontation against the jotun.
These huge beings often multiply the size of Thora, to the extent that the camera must move away to frame them on the screen (something that still does not always get completely), and they all offer distinctive concepts both playable and visual level. Here the developer study is less
rigid with the mythological inspiration, since the Jotun were basically gigantic humans, but the playable convenience commands and causes us to see each other’s faces with creatures that can manipulate blizzards, thunder or take roots from the earth to attack us.
Once immersed in the heat of combat the connections with Shadow of the Colossus become more superficial, since Jotun does not give us the ability to grab their bodies to climb towards some weak point. Battles always take place at ground level, where
Thora’s ax is the only method available to do damage (at least until we get some shooting power at an advanced level, but its use is very limited).
The combat system consists of a normal attack and a charged one, complemented in turn by a somersault that serves to dodge enemy attacks.
It’s simple, maybe too much, but the game is skillful when it’s time to pose different situations and ensure that there are not two equal fights.