Searching for Valhalla.
Norse mythology is riddled with interesting lore and grandiose adventures. The stuff of its legends has made for a seemingly unlimited amount of movies, shows, comics, games, and more. Whatever genre of art Norse mythology can influence, you can bet it has. Something as simple as making an appearance in, say, Final Fantasy as a summon or having an entire game steeped in the mythos shows the power, intrigue, and interest that Norse mythology holds. Jotun: Valhalla Edition follows in the footsteps of those that came before it, and it launches today on the Nintendo Switch after being greeted with much success a year ago on PS4 and Xbox One. Is the Switch version worthy of the Jotun name, or will it fall like the giants you’ll topple in game?
Jotun is the story of Thera, a fallen Viking warrior barred entrance into Valhalla for suffering a dishonorable death. For Thera to reach the gates of the coveted Valhalla, she’ll have to prove to the gods that she is a worthy warrior and eliminate four Jotun, giants of Norse mythology. The game itself plays as an action RPG boss battler, as you’ll have some freedom to explore beautifully hand drawn landscapes in search of runes in order to battle your enormous foes. The visuals truly shine in this game, as the aesthetics totally absorb the player into the Norse mythos and gameplay. On top of that, the subtle sound direction creates a haunting but memorable soundtrack.
Gameplay in Jotun plays like your typical action RPG. You have fast attacks and a charge attack, as well as a roll dodge and item button. As you progress, you can gain more skills to use. Each boss requires a set strategy to topple, so each of the Jotun provides a fairly different experience. Likewise, while searching for the runes, you’ll traverse two levels – mostly lacking other enemies – per Jotun, each with slight variations. For example, one level required me to climb the world tree, avoiding a large raven and saying hi to Ratatoskr where another level saw me traveling through a poisonous wasteland, trying to make it through deadly poison hazes. While there aren’t many micro conflicts, the various hazards and level designs help keep the game fresh.
The biggest downfall of Jotun lies in its replayability. If you check out our PS4/Xbox One/Wii U review, you’ll note that Jotun doesn’t offer the varying play styles that other action RPGs do. Still, the price point is low enough that you’ll most likely get your money’s worth by the time the credits roll. Plus, once you complete the game, you unlock a sort of gauntlet of bosses mode that poses a bit of a challenge. I’m not sure that the game is worth your investment if you already own it – unless you absolutely love it – but if you only have a Switch and are interested in a good action RPG, this one’s for you.
Overall, Jotun: Valhalla Edition offers players a refreshing and beautifully hand drawn action RPG that pits them against unique and enormous bosses in a journey toward Valhalla. The game is ripe with Norse mythology that fans will enjoy, and the gameplay is tight and refined, making for an excellent play on either the joycons or pro controllers. In addition, the portability of Jotun makes the game much more accessible for gamers like me and often accompanied me to bed. Developer Thunder Lotus Games created an immaculate version of Jotun for the Switch, carefully crafting a product that shines in both large scale settings (TV) and on the go. With its low price point (about $14.99), Jotun: Valhalla Edition provides a decent slice of value, even though replayability isn’t exactly high. Still, we recommend this for first timers especially, as the game provides excellent gameplay steeped in the wondrous world of Norse mythology.