Coming off of playing through God of War to its entirety, Norse mythology was fresh in the mind and it was definitely time for some more God-like fights. Unfortunately, the game I was about to embark on was going to leave me asking more questions than I felt comfortable with.
Jotun: Valhalla Edition, originally released on PC in 2015, is a 2D top-down action-adventure title for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo has been on a role lately with their indie titles and I have been gobbling them up every chance I get. This one made me realize that I am not going to love every title placed on the Switch. Just to make it clear this game isn’t a horrible experience it just wasn’t for me.
The protagonist of the story for Juton is Thora, an axe-wielding woman that carries the title of the God of Thunder. Thora dies and she is cast away until she can prove herself worthy by defeating Jutons (Giants) in a location called Ginnungagap. Her goal is to reach Valhalla and prove that she is worthy of the title of God.
There are five areas to “explore”. The game lacks the necessary pull to really want you to explore these areas and you do tend to just run through them looking for the exit. They do a really nice job on the aesthetics of the environments and you can really sense the hand-drawn vision they were going for with each location but in the end, there is nothing gameplay wise that gives reasoning as to why I would want to explore each area further. Sure you can find different skills and upgrades if you go off track but they are not necessary to complete the game. Every situation is like a puzzle and once you solve it you can easily handle it. Once you have trekked through an area long enough you will notice a lot of the same maze-like templates and rush to find what you need to find in order to move on.
Thora has some basic attack functionality. She can light and heavy attack as well as her skills that can be unlocked at Statues of the Gods. For example, you will find the power of Thor’s hammer and have the ability to use it when needed. Another skill is the ability to heal Thora. Each skill you find can be used twice before needing to be refilled at specific spots on the map.
The boss fights are where the game shines but not too brightly. Once you come across a Juton the game seems to fascinatingly scale from close up on your character to far away so you can truly see the size of the giant you are fighting. Each Juton presents a fun challenge with its own unique mechanic to solve just like you would a puzzle. Once you figure out the strategy of the boss it becomes simple but discovering that strategy makes the fight worth it overall. Awareness is key as you may encounter smaller enemies while fighting a boss or a shadow will tell you when a boss is about to do a huge slam down for area-of-effect damage.
Once you complete the story of Juton the game has a mode called “Valhalla”. This mode is an upgrade on the boss fights. Want more of a challenge with each boss? This is the mode for you.
Jotun: Valhalla Edition didn’t quite grab me the way that other titles have on the Nintendo Switch. It was short and sweet but it left a bitter taste in my mouth in the end because of how I felt about the gameplay. Every spot just felt like a repetitive puzzle that, once easily solved, I could just heavy-attack my way out of and move on.
I was looking for a good way of explaining what this game was and I decided on “One-Dimensional”. For me, it was a rush to the end and left me with a shrug of the shoulders. There is something missing in this title and it comes from the dull exploration portions that I talked about earlier. If you are interested in this title wait for a sale but some may enjoy it more than others depending on what your tastes are.