How Don’t Nod Tells an Emotional Story Without Words in Jusant

Hello dear readers, we are immensely pleased to have revealed our brand-new meditative action-puzzle climbing game, Jusant, at the Xbox Games Showcase yesterday.

As you may have noticed, it is quite different from Don’t Nod’s previous games in that there is no spoken dialog. Jusant tells a story, as do all our games, simply in a different way. Here, we wanted to go through some of the ways in which we tell this emotional story without words.

One of the most prevalent methods of storytelling in Jusant is environmental. You’ll start out at the bottom of this immeasurably tall tower, surrounded by arid land and desolate plains. What is this place, in the middle of nowhere? What is its purpose? Who lived here, and how? The answers may lie atop the tower, intriguing enough for you the climber to take on the challenge of reaching the peak.

There are telltale marks of civilization left on the tower itself, such as beaten paths and weathered walls, which show how old this place is, how long it’s been abandoned, and the ways the previous inhabitants traversed the structure. These marks tell us about the old ways of living and show which passages the people traveled most and the walls they climbed, as you will.

Other remnants of the past, such as old furniture, broken contraptions, rotting sail boats, will remind you that time seems to have stopped for this tower-dwelling civilization. When taking the time to explore off the beaten paths, you’ll be rewarded with frescoes, altars, and even letters you can read that provide more information about the world and its lore.

You’ll discover multiple different biomes as you ascend the tower. We wanted to include some environments and nature that we know in our world – such as deserts, mountains, caves – to give you something familiar in this strange world. We know what these places are in our world, but in this vertical world each biome had a specific purpose. By exploring the biomes, you will come to better understand how people lived and what was at stake when they were forced to leave. There are several environmental elements throughout the game that will encourage you to explore further.

While Jusant is peaceful and slow-paced (if you desire) the gameplay can be hard to master. This is because we want you to feel the sense of accomplishment and pride upon overcoming the challenges that the climb poses. It was interesting for us to have another character to offer help in this demanding journey and to again emphasize the importance of nature: a Ballast, a creature made entirely out of water. This companion will help you on the journey with its ability to open paths and wake nature along those paths, as well as reveal clues about the tower’s history. The relationship with the Ballast is harmonious: you will need one another to reach the top safely. Even without words, we tried to give a sense of symbiosis both in the gameplay and their interactions and it felt natural to give you the possibility to interact physically with the Ballast; to connect. (Petting the companion confirmed!)

Finally, is of course the music. In our lore, we put great significance on sounds and melody, which some objects and structures important to the narrative share a special connection with. We tried to illustrate this within the peaceful and atmospheric soundtrack composed by Guillaume Ferran. Music also helps us express the feelings of our characters and convey the mood. At the same time, we want to evoke emotion from you and engage in the ascension of this changing tower.

The music also represents how the relationship of both characters evolves. That’s why there is a theme for both the climber and the Ballast, and one that merges the two as another way to illustrate how complementary they are. Music is always a powerful narrative tool, and we make sure it holds a central place in this game.

Jusant, the upcoming meditative action-puzzle game from Don’t Nod, releases on Xbox Series X|S this fall and will be available with Xbox Game Pass. We can’t wait!

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