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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #252: Jotun: Valhalla Edition (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Thunder Lotus Games

Publisher: Thunder Lotus Games

Category: Action, Adventure

Release Date: 4.27.2018

Price (at time of review): $14.99

Buy Jotun: Valhalla Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

By The Gods It Shall Be

I’ve always been so intrigued by Greek and Norse mythology. The stories steeped in tragedy and heartbreak always had a point and a lesson to be learned. For that reason, I always jump at books, movies, and games using that as the back drop—I’m looking at you God of War series. But to hear there was a game out previously on the Wii U back in 2016, now on the Switch, named Jotun—this time with a “Valhalla Edition”—I was immediately ready to jump in. Jotun is the second game I’ve played by the amazing studio of Thunder Lotus Games, based out of Montreal. Before its release on Wii U and port to Switch, it was originally brought to life through crowdfunding on the popular site Kickstarter. Jotun had a successful crowdfunding campaign which raised over $64,000 from 2,299 backers on Kickstarter.

The story of Jotun is like so many of the stories in the books of mythology. The story follows Thora, a recently deceased female Viking. Having suffered an inglorious death, she must travel across the realms defeating Jotun, giant elementals of nature, chaos, power, etc. This will allow her to impress the gods and enter Valhalla.

Now Let Her Axe Do The Talking

The controls of Jotun felt great overall, with a mild gripe with the power swing of her ace, as I feel it takes so long I could cook a turkey before she drops the axe down. Aside from the power swing, she has a slash; and these can be put together for 2 & 3 hit combos, but I wish there was a lock-on button. There is also a dodge that helps when battling the bigger enemies later on.

Jotun’s gameplay revolves mostly around exploration, puzzle solving, and fighting enemies that are sprinkled throughout the stage. Each stage you will explore, as you have to locate a rune in each stage to progress the story, and a God Shrine, at which Thora can unlock and upgrade God Powers. While looking for the runes, you’ll encounter puzzles with objects (trees, boulders, and vines) and some other types of puzzles, my favorite being smacking stars to align a constellation. Aside from those elements, it does have some light beat ‘em up elements, as you will fight monsters throughout, but they’re more so there to give you something to do while locating the rune.

You can find secret locations that have special golden apples which will give Thora a permanent health bump. Also, once you upgrade your god powers, Thora can use one of the God Powers: Frigg's Healing, Freya's Speed, Thor's Hammer, Odin's Spear, Loki's Decoy, or Heimdall's Shield, all of which can be replenished at Mimir's Wells. While at the world map known as Ginnungagap (the void), Thora can see the five main areas, where each has two stages in which she must locate the runes. Once you have both runes you can proceed to the boss fight—and they’re giants! I mean that literally. This is easily the best part of the game when you finally reach the boss fights, as they’re epic in scale and a hell of a lot of fun. Once you dispatch them, you learn more about Thora and move closer to her goal, which took me around 10 hours to complete. My only real—and main gripe—would be that there’s no real replayability, and sometimes it can feel like it’s dragging on while you are searching for the rune to progress.

Audio & Visuals

If I were to grade this game on its audio and visuals alone, it would easily be a 10/10. The music is melancholic, sorrowful, and absolutely beautiful, with voiceover work that is truly remarkable. The game is in Thora’s native language, which leaves us reading subtitles—and I’m okay with it, because it fits perfectly.

The sound effects are done very well; the axe sounds chunky and the thud and slash sounds fit nicely. The bosses are haunting, and the bass is noticeably turned up. The gorgeous animated and skillfully-hand-drawn art is just too much for words. There were so many times I caught myself standing in spots just staring at the scenery. Any shot could easily be a wallpaper that feels like a painting. Docked or handheld, this game is beautiful and polished.

It’s A Wrap!!!

Jotun: Valhalla Edition is a vastly ambitious project that pays off for they devs at Thunder Lotus Games. Though some parts felt a little long and drawn out, and could’ve been more streamlined, this did nothing to take away from the fun I had or the amazing audio work and gorgeous visuals. The boss battles are so fun it will have you salivating to find the rune to battle them. I highly recommend adding Jotun to your collection. I just hope to see a physical at some point.

Score: 8/10

Buy Jotun: Valhalla Edition from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

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*Review Code Provided by Thunder Lotus Games

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