Jotun: Valhalla Edition (Xbox One) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 14.10.2016

Review for Jotun: Valhalla Edition on Xbox One

Developed by Thunder Lotus Games, Jotun utilises some interesting Norse mythology and technology to bring a new indie experience to multiple platforms. Originally, the game released on Steam in 2015, with the enhanced Jotun: Valhalla Edition following this year. Also available on PS4 and PC, how does it fair?

Jotun is an explorative title based on Norse mythology. Thora, the main character, dies while crossing the sea. This is considered a dishonourable death, and so she must travel Jotunheim and defeat the Jotun in order to enter Valhalla. It's a simple story, and the game benefits from it. Thor is an interesting character; she's taken the traditionally male role of the Viking warrior. Wielding her axe, she traverses this limbo by herself for a shot at eternal fun in her heaven. Who knows—maybe her real motivation is all you can drink mead?

This game isn't a hack 'n slash, although it's probably categorised as such. Instead, there is minimal fighting outside of the giant boss battles. Jotun's focus is on the journey and the atmosphere; the hub world feeds into the different levels, each of which is made up of three sections. The third section is the way to the boss fight, which only unlocks after exploring the other two areas and locating two. The level design is fantastic, with each area having a different gameplay element. One is all about sliding, another is about bridging lava, among others. These all contribute to the atmosphere of the area and help feed a feeling of what is coming in the next boss fight.

Screenshot for Jotun: Valhalla Edition on Xbox One

The boss design is great. Each boss is extremely giant, forcing the camera to zoom out until Thora is naught but a speck. This is a great feeling, making each boss a monumental feat, and, after flailing an axe at its ankles for a bit, makes its defeat very satisfying. It would be apt to compare this to the likes of Shadow of the Colossus, where the bosses are the spectacle and main event of the title. This game does a fantastic job of building up the boss fights and making them just different enough to keep them interesting. Unfortunately, unlike Shadow of the Colossus, the method for fighting the bosses stays the same for every encounter.

The fantastic graphics allow the characters, bosses and environments to not only look hand drawn, but to literally be hand drawn, with some excellent distortion effects and smooth animations. It's a shame the characters don't have more than four directional animations, as sometimes the movement can appear a bit janky, but that is the only issue with it. Backgrounds are simplistic, but well layered for visual depth. Some of the long bridges have absolutely breath-taking views!

Each area has different ambient sounds, from birds and leaves rustling, to lava bubbling, which provides a great 3D feeling to the environments through their audio design. It also builds an incredible and sometimes foreboding atmosphere. All the musical chimes are great and reminiscent of Journey; they have a lot of bass and the visuals they accompany makes for some magical moments. There isn't a lot of music, but there is quite a lot of voice acting. It's all performed very well and the recording is clear. The character of Thora is expertly crafted. She is very interesting and she is the stoic and strong woman character that gaming doesn't often portray. Certainly the strongest woman hero since Samus Aran.

Screenshot for Jotun: Valhalla Edition on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A cracking little game with big bosses. The journey Jotun: Valhalla Edition takes players on is heartfelt and was clearly a labour of love. It's almost perfect. Just to reiterate, it's not much of a hack 'n slash. There isn't a lot of fighting outside of the boss battles, which really helps the fights to have even more weight. It's great, and without spoiling anything, it's one to experience.


Thunder Lotus


Thunder Lotus Games





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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