Jotun: Valhalla Edition, developed by Thunder Lotus Games, is a mesmerizing journey of redemption. Playing as a female Viking on a quest to redeem her dishonorable death at the hands of the underwater god Ran, it plays out like a mix of boss battle games such as Shadow of the Colossus and Titan Souls, where players mostly fight large foes and test their reflexes. It oozes ambiance and style, and the hand drawn animation is exceptional. But is this journey through the realms a good time?
Jotun: Valhalla Edition
Developed and published by Thunder Lotus Games
Available on the PC, PS4, Xbox One and Wii U. Reviewed on the Xbox One.
*Review code provided by Thunder Lotus Games
In Jotun: Valhalla Edition, players take on the role of Thora, a fierce Viking warrior who perishes at the hands of the sea when her ship capsizes in a fierce storm. Since she died an unworthy death, she is sent to the realm of Ginnungagap rather than Valhalla, and must prove her worth by satisfying the gods by slaying the mighty Jotun, giant mystical creatures that lie hidden in wait in the worlds held by Yggdrasil.
In all honesty I’m a sucker for Norse mythology, and I’m pretty impressed with the lore of Jotun, offering an angle that’s rarely seen in video games. It’s pretty vague and most of the storytelling happens through the player’s actions in the realm and occasional narration rather than dialogue, but it’s an intriguing and mystical journey that’s subtle and incredibly satisfying.
The art is also pretty incredible, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s hand drawn art that evokes the classic animation styles, and does a fantastic job at bringing the world of Jotun to life. From the beautifully detailed environments and simple yet effective character designs to the smooth animation, it’s a gorgeous game to behold.
In regards to the gameplay, Jotun is a straightforward but thrilling experience. As a Boss Run type of game, players explore various realms in order to find the Jotun and destroy them, and to do so must collect runes that open the way forward. As such, players will mostly walk through exotic locations, avoid traps that will challenge the player, such as poison bogs, dwarfs, giant sea snakes, thunder, and more, and finally face off against the Jotun that reigns over each area. The controls are very simple, with a standard attack, a heavy attack and a dodge, as well as the ability to later acquire unique skills modeled after some of the gods, like a heal, a clones that draws enemy attention, a speed boost, and limited time use of Mjolnir. Should players falter, the game offers checkpoints in the form of wells with Mimir, the god of Wisdom, who also refills Thora’s skills.
While exploring the environments offers players a chance to gain new skills, increase their health by finding hidden golden apples from the tree of Ithunn, and see some epic sights – like the forge that created Mjolnir, Ymir’s skull, and more, the best part of the game is of course fighting the Jotun. Each of the Jotun is unique and offers up a different challenge, and thanks to the scale of the enemies, each battle feels absolutely epic. Some are more difficult than others, but each is a satisfying encounter that’ll have players cheering as they learn how to counter and conquer each giant.
While the main experience is short, the game offers up some replay value with Valhalla mode, stripping the adventure part and allowing players to go straight to the bosses, but this time tweaked with new attack patterns and made more challenging. The also offers up achievements for clearing the bosses without taking damage and using any of the powers, so players looking for a hardcore challenge will love this mode.
Jotun: Valhalla Edition is ultimately a fantastic action-adventure that satisfies with its beautiful art and epic boss battles. While it’s a bit short, players looking for a challenge and a unique take on Norse mythology will enjoy this game.