The Art Of Jusant

The Art Of Jusant

We’d like to extend a special thanks to Edouard Caplain and Mathieu Beaudelin (with whom we’ve already recorded a podcast), respectively Art Director and Co-Creative Director on Jusant, for taking the time to answer our questions about the game’s influences. Without them, this article would clearly not be as complete.

The Point’n Think Team

There’s no sign of human life or water. Fortunately, we have with us a very gentle creature, Ballast, who can help us on our journey by interacting with our environment. A mountain looms before our eyes. What happened before we arrived? Why is no one there? Yet we seem to be able to make out some habitation structures. Will they all be uninhabited? Jusant reveals nothing about the history of an apparent natural disaster that has left the world barren, dry and deserted.

The only way to find out what’s happened to mankind is to start climbing that Tower until we reach the top, because only then can we know the truth. This is what Jusant and, consequently, DON’T NOD imply. In a vast desert, dotted with the weathered hulks of long-dead ships, stands an immense tower. The word “tower” doesn’t really describe it. Rectangular mountain? Monolith the size of a city? Vertical landscape? Whatever the case, our young hero, dressed in a technical sports outfit and bird-feather cape, strides towards it with determination. We climb up.

A Zen ascent awaits us with Jusant
A Zen ascent awaits us with Jusant

In French, the word “jusant” refers to a falling tide. In the game world, a civilization once lived on this rock tower in the middle of a huge, swollen sea, descending with the tide to fish and feed, then rising again at full speed. When the sea finally dried up, the people came down from the tower for good and dispersed. Now, much later, our hero retraces their path upwards, collecting the remnants of their lives, accompanied by a small, chirping aquatic creature who lives in the hero’s backpack and has resonant powers.

The art uses a mix of alpine and nautical motifs to evoke these mysterious people in their empty world. Everything is cracked and weathered, sculpted by sea and air, richly colored and beautiful. As we ascend, we find notes that inform us about the trivial moments of a society.

Concept art by Andrey Surnov
Concept art by Andrey Surnov
Concept art by Andrey Surnov
Concept art by Andrey Surnov

That’s the setting, and it’s very atmospheric, especially as you turn onto a bleached cliff facing the sun and feel the waves of heat radiating off it. The game itself is a pure climbing game: it’s you against the wall, where every few meters are riddles to be solved. DON’T NOD has developed a series of wonderfully tactile controls for Jusant, supported by the fluid animation of the central figure. The left and right triggers are your left and right wrists, and the left stick directs your arm’s reach to the next small grip. You climb in a swinging motion, from trigger to trigger, hand to hand, your eye searching for the next hold in a satisfying swing.

Ligne claire and nature spirits 

The psychedelic fantasy of Moebius

When art masters draw and paint, they breathe life into entire universes. Born in 1938, illustrious French artist Jean Henry Gaston Giraud, better known as Moebius (or Möbius), sits atop the mountain of comic book creators. His influence and genius have been hailed by eminent figures both inside and outside France, from Hayao Miyazaki and Stan Lee to the cinematic achievements of Ridley Scott. As a child, Jean Giraud embraced drawing to escape the melancholy of his life in the French suburbs. His adult work is a vibrant, dynamic dance of wonder.

You can feel the influence Arzach may have had on Jusant
You can feel the influence Arzach may have had on Jusant

An undisputed icon of the Franco-Belgian comic strip, Moebius both explored and abandoned the playful style characteristic of this movement, as seen in Les Aventures de Tintin and Asterix. Moebius’s creations, from Blueberry (1963-2007) to L’Incal (1980-1988) and Arzach (1975-1987), testify to his exceptional mastery of various forms of illustration. L’Incal, the fruit of his collaboration with Alejandro Jodorowsky, is a shamanic space epic whose story opens in chaos. Adulated and even stolen by science-fiction aficionados and artists alike, L’Incal inspired Ridley Scott in the architectural design and vertical urban landscapes of the film Blade Runner (1982), thus marking its era.

One of Moebius’ little-known works, Arzach, published in Métal Hurlant magazine (known in the U.S. as Heavy Metal), proved to be of singular importance. The desert-like expanses of this comic strip, with its dragon-riding hero, inscribed images that have become emblematic in popular culture and the media. The remarkable diversity of Moebius’s work persists, finding perpetuity in his artistic sophistication, innovative use of color and undeniable virtuosity.

Illustration of Arzach by Moebius
Illustration of Arzach by Moebius

So, what exactly has earned such universal praise and deep admiration? Although many cite Giraud’s line and coloring, these are not exclusive to him. Moebius was indebted to the Franco-Belgian comics tradition of the “clear line”, first explored by Tintin creator Hergé. This style of drawing is based on clear, uncluttered outlines, with no hatching. Similarly, there is no exclusive Moebius approach to color and lighting, although many artists claim to draw inspiration from it. The real appeal of Moebius’ work lies not in the technical details or the way he draws, but in what he draws. A Moebius story takes place in a highly imaginative world, often tackles philosophical questions, dares to explore surrealism, and in so doing, constantly surprises its audience.

Moebius’ art lends a magical dimension to the most ordinary elements. His influence, particularly through his Arzach comic strip, has resonated in a special way in the video game industry. Nearly four decades after its creation, Arzach‘s worldviews and color palettes continue to inspire video game designers. Recent titles such as the excellent Heaven’s Vault (2019), Aquamarine (2022) and Sable (2021) carry Moebius’ generous visual legacy. His direct involvement with the video game industry dates back to 1992, when he was asked to illustrate Fade to Black (1992), but it was his work and its impact on the creation of Sega’s Panzer Dragoon video game, released in 1995, that deeply touched gamers’ sensibilities. The game’s vast deserts and dreamlike scenes of flying dragons are an obvious tribute to the French artist. This adventure spawned several sequels, making Panzer Dragoon one of Sega’s most emblematic series.

Affiche de Panzer Dragoon par Moebius
Arzach de Moebius

In 1955, during a journey through the Mexican desert, Moebius had an experience that profoundly affected his soul, prompting him to explore the world of the unconscious and parallel dreams. The vast, flat expanses of Mexican desert became a recurring motif in his work. For him, the barren desert was a source of beauty and wonder. The colors of the desert sun – reds, yellows, blues and oranges – found their way into the epic scenes of L’Incal and Arzach. Panzer Dragoon owes much to Moebius’s journey to Mexico; the game’s opening sequence pays him a heartfelt tribute. Jusant also pays tribute to these desert landscapes with obvious reverence.

Immersing yourself in the world of DON’T NOD is almost like watching a moving animated film. As in the work of Moebius, the desert is an omnipresent element. Jusant‘s artistic line uses flat tints and colors that Moebius admirers will instantly recognize. The skilful use of color not only delineates and shades, but also helps create a special atmosphere. Jusant is an exemplary example of Moebius’s enduring influence, bearing witness to an impact that transcends time.

“He creates a world that doesn’t exist, but with which we can identify,” says Édouard Caplain. “We tried to do something similar.”

The shamanic imagery found in certain constructions, the innovative design of the buildings, and the cultures drawn by Moebius are echoed in Jusant as well as in Hayao Miyazaki’s iconic work, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Released in 1984 as a film and published as a manga series between 1982 and 1994, Nausicaä is a founding work of Japanese popular culture, influencing in turn Panzer Dragoon and Sable. The story comes full circle.

Une des illustrations de Moebius suivant sa traversée du désert
Une des illustrations de Moebius suivant sa traversée du désert

Miyazaki’s admiration for Moebius is clear. The Japanese director has said that the Arzach comic strip had a “great impact” on him when he discovered it in 1980. It was with Moebius in mind that he began work on Nausicaä, whose main character explores the world aboard his glider, recalling the journey of Arzach‘s protagonist riding his dragon. Miyazaki’s attachment to Moebius and Arzach demonstrates the importance of the French cartoonist, even for world-renowned artists.

In the BBC documentary Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures, broadcast five years before Moebius’s death in 2007, the artist strangely expresses, “I create forms and ideas, but I’m not responsible for them.” Moebius evolved as an artist throughout his life, assimilating different experiences and influences into his work. He sketched worlds that, at first glance, seem remote or even elusive. A decade after the artist’s death, these once mysterious worlds are now familiar, even to those who never had the privilege of contemplating his work or knowing his name. Judging by the enduring influence of video games, and the fame of artists such as Miyazaki, Moebius’ work will continue to captivate and resonate through the ages.

Hayao Miyazaki: Nausicaä, Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle

A large number of gamers also share a penchant for anime, so it’s not surprising that the latter exert an influence on video games. However, the question remains as to why Studio Ghibli films, in particular, have become a ubiquitous influence in the video game industry. The answer may lie in the zeitgeist. In an age marked by climate upheaval, rampant over-industrialization and other pressing issues, the ecological and anti-capitalist stance of Hayao Miyazaki’s films has resonated with a multitude of fans. Players find themselves in a landscape where stories of forest spirits, nature trumping industry and the simple pleasures of craftsmanship have acquired a romantic allure and heightened desirability.

Video games are moving forward, and their future looks bright as they explore a wide range of themes and genres. Independent games often lead the charge, exploring uncharted territory and taking risks, while big companies cautiously observe market trends. The release of Soulframe shows that major companies recognize the intrinsic value of the worlds, themes and messages created by Studio Ghibli. It seems that the gaming industry is waking up to the profound resonance of Studio Ghibli’s ethos in our contemporary cultural landscape.

Nausicaä poster by artist Kilian Eng
Nausicaä poster by artist Kilian Eng

Studio Ghibli, with cinematic masterpieces such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and The Castle in the Sky, has profoundly marked the world of Japanese animation and continues to influence various media, including video games such as Jusant. The latter was also inspired by Moebius’ visionary style, seeking to capture the philosophical spirit that characterizes his works.

The legacy of Castle in the Sky is felt in Jusant through the exploration of suspended worlds and aerial cities. Studio Ghibli’s ethereal landscapes and dizzying mise-en-scène are echoed in the visual elements of Jusant, creating a gaming experience that evokes the majesty and grandeur of fantasy worlds.

The decor of Castle in the Sky is reminiscent of Jusant's architecture.
The decor of Castle in the Sky is reminiscent of Jusant‘s architecture.

Similarly, the influence of Nausicaä can be seen in DON’T NOD’s gameplay through its exploration of environmental and philosophical themes. The game, like the film, can address issues of coexistence between nature and humanity, while emphasizing the quest for answers to complex moral dilemmas. Players can thus find themselves immersed in an adventure that transcends mere entertainment, prompting reflection on our own relationship with nature and the consequences of our actions. Jusant, for example, features an entire chapter in which players must learn to play with the wind, a nod to the title character who is literally a representation of the wind in the film.

Nausicaä
Nausicaä

Last but not least, the game draws on the visual aesthetics of Howl’s Moving Castle, renowned for its fantastical landscapes and magical architecture. The game captures the alchemy of Studio Ghibli animation, incorporating visuals that evoke the enchanting charm of the castle itself. Jusant’s scenes, like those in the film, are likely to transport players into a universe suspended between reality and enchantment. For example, when the Piper arrives at the first lighthouse, we discover the importance of ballast. This same creature, representing water throughout the adventure, was inspired by Calcifer, the fire demon and heart of the castle.

A deserted ocean

Philosophy of the apocalypse

Science fiction transcends mere entertainment, offering thought experiments that plumb the depths of philosophy. Far beyond lasers and teleporters, it raises fundamental questions, explores alternative worlds and confronts viewers with exaggerated scenarios. Classics such as The Matrix examine knowledge and truth, while Star Trek questions the construction of an ideal society. Gattaca examines the ethical implications of reproduction, and Starship Troopers explores the theory of just war. Isaac Asimov’s rules for robots remain crucially relevant. Science fiction, when well executed, has a lasting impact on the mind.

At the heart of science fiction lies a particularly popular sub-genre, that of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Hits such as The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games have captivated audiences across 11 seasons and four films respectively. Literary works such as World War Z and Station Eleven have also won praise. However, beyond entertainment, these stories raise a profound philosophical question.

The success of Homo sapiens, as described by Yuval Noah Harari in his book of the same name, rests largely on our ability to master, tame and push back nature. We have altered entire ecosystems, genetically modified organisms and deregulated the climate. Yet science fiction abounds in scenarios where humanity pushes these manipulations too far, resulting in genetic monstrosities or climatic catastrophes. This raises a fundamental question: how far should we seek to control Nature?

It would be naïve to claim that we should have no control over nature. Antibiotics, air conditioning and structural engineering are all manifestations of our manipulation of the natural order of things. However, this also involves acts of destruction. Francis Bacon and René Descartes saw the mastery of nature as essential to civilization, a way of subjugating the irrational to the rational, of establishing order in the midst of chaos. However, there is a tipping point, a moment when the assault on nature turns against humanity. Apocalyptic fiction then becomes a powerful means of exploring when and where this tipping point occurs.

Concept art for Fury Road by Peter Pound, one of the star desert pieces
Concept art for Fury Road by Peter Pound, one of the star desert pieces

Superficially, a post-apocalyptic world may seem seductive, devoid of social and financial constraints. Visions of fast cars, luxurious mansions and endless feasts with the finest champagne abound. But after this initial phase, what remains to be accomplished? Cormac McCarthy poignantly explores this idea in his masterful The Road. Through the journey of a father and son across a desolate, icy landscape, the author evokes the very essence of existence. In a world in decline, where possibilities seem infinite yet empty of meaning, what really matters?

Concept art de Andrey Surnov
Concept art de Andrey Surnov

Jusant sets itself apart by transcending the simple exploration of the post-apocalyptic to offer a work imbued with hope and the need to reconnect. While many post-apocalyptic narratives focus on despair, hard survival and brutal conflict, Jusant chooses a different path, highlighting human resilience and the will to rebuild ties. In this universe, the apocalypse is not simply the end of an era, but rather the beginning of a new adventure. Where other stories may wallow in dystopia and darkness, Jusant explores the potential for ecological growth and community reconnection. Players are invited to restore a decaying world, revive lands and re-establish relationships between scattered individuals.

The emphasis on the need to reconnect underlines the importance of human interaction in rebuilding society. Players are encouraged to read the various notes to discover the history of the tower’s former inhabitants, and to overcome the challenges. Contrary to an apocalyptic vision centered on individualism and competition, Jusant celebrates the strength of human bonding. The game offers an optimistic perspective on the future, emphasizing that even in the darkest of times, hope must be the driving force behind rebirth.

The Jusant desert

The choice of the desert as an artistic setting has become a powerful visual metaphor. Iconic titles such as Journey and Shadow of the Colossus have exploited this arid backdrop to reinforce themes of desolation, solitude and poetic quest. This artistic use of the desert in the post-apocalyptic context serves to transcend mere scenery to become a symbolic expression of human trials and rebirth.

Concept art of Journey
Concept art of Journey

In Journey, the desert is a vast field of sand that stretches as far as the eye can see, creating an atmosphere of profound solitude. The player is initially alone, immersed in a seemingly infinite expanse. However, this desolate expanse becomes a space for meditation, a place where connection with other players becomes essential. Journey exploits the juxtaposition between the empty vastness of the desert and the possibility of unexpected human encounters to create a unique emotional experience. Shadow of the Colossus takes a similar approach, using desert lands as the backdrop for its vast colossal battles. The desert evokes a sense of mystery and loss, underlining the loneliness of the main character. Each colossus becomes a landmark in this ocean of sand, intensifying the sense of grandeur and despair.

In the context of Jusant, the desert is not simply a setting, but a metaphor for decline and the need for regeneration. The game’s vast desert expanses symbolize the arid nature of a world in distress, but unlike other narratives, Jusant introduces the possibility of transformation. Players are invited to renew these devastated lands, to bring life back to life, and to create a new space where hope can flourish. This call to exploration is reminiscent of the ludicism employed by a game like Breath of the Wild, which @bleduigou mentions in his article.

Concept art de Andrey Surnov
Concept art of Andrey Surnov

Of course, when it comes to the desert in science fiction, it’s impossible to ignore Frank Herbert’s monumental work, Dune. Here, the desert is not just a setting, but an essential element on both artistic and philosophical levels. Herbert uses the desert of the planet Arrakis to explore profound themes of power, politics, ecology and human resilience. The desert of Arrakis is an inhospitable place, an arid world where water is more precious than gold. However, this aridity is also home to the powerful Spice, the mystical blend that confers unrivalled psychic and political abilities. Herbert deftly uses the desert as a space of trial and transformation, where only the most resilient societies can thrive.

Dune‘s philosophical themes, ranging from politics to divinity, are interwoven with the artistic representation of the desert. The vast expanses of sand become metaphorical spaces where human dramas are played out, where characters are subjected to existential tests and moral dilemmas. The desert in Dune transcends the simple setting to become a narrative and symbolic element.

Affiche du Dune de Alejandro Jodorowsky sur lequel Moebius avait travaillé
Poster for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune, on which Moebius worked.

It’s also worth noting that Moebius, with his unique artistic vision, participated in the film adaptation of Dune under the direction of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Although this project never came to fruition, Moebius’ influence on the creation of this universe is palpable. His artistic expertise would undoubtedly have added a profound visual and conceptual layer to the adaptation.

Bringing this perspective back to Jusant, we can see a resonance with Dune. The desert in Jusant is not simply a barren terrain, but a place of potential, where regeneration is possible. Themes of resilience, transformation and rebirth blend with the desert aesthetic to create an artistic and narrative experience that goes beyond post-apocalyptic clichés to offer something deeper and more hopeful.

A world in ruins

The architecture of the cave dwellings in Jusant plays a crucial role in reinforcing the artistic impression of the post-apocalyptic trend, or even a vision of the post-apocalyptic. These dwellings are not merely refuges, but architectural works that draw their inspiration from diverse cultures and natural elements.

The game’s cave dwellings draw inspiration from a wide range of sources, from Middle Eastern cubic structures to coral sea formations. This diversity of influences lends these habitats an eclectic, timeless aesthetic. Inspired by the geometric patterns of the cubic Middle Eastern temple, the homes evoke a sense of antiquity and mystery, while incorporating organic elements from the underwater world. These different inspirations are clearly evident in Andrey Surnov‘s concept art, for example.

Concept art de Andrey Surnov
Concept art de Andrey Surnov

References to underwater fauna, real sea corals and marine animals imbue these Jusant structures with an organic, natural beauty. The fusion of the terrestrial and marine worlds creates a visual harmony, perhaps symbolizing humanity’s need to regain its balance with nature after an apocalyptic period. The influence of Moebius is also perceptible in this architecture. The cartoonist’s ability to create a timeless style that transcends time leaves its mark on Jusant‘s dwellings. These structures do not seem to belong to a specific time, but rather to an eternal epoch, resilient in the face of the ravages of time.

Finally, the influence of the Angkor Wat temple on the architecture of the cave dwellings in Jusant is profound, bringing an artistic, spiritual and symbolic dimension to these post-apocalyptic structures. Angkor Wat, located in Cambodia, is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture and one of the largest religious temples in the world. The complexity of its structures, the richness of its sculpted details and its incorporation of symbolic motifs make it a rich source of inspiration for artistic creations.

In DON’T NOD’s game, cave dwellings borrow from Angkor Wat’s distinctive architectural elements, such as stepped towers and pyramidal structures. These features create an imposing, majestic aesthetic, evoking the sacred, monumental character of the Khmer temple. The stepped, upward-facing architecture creates an impression of verticality, perhaps symbolizing the connection between earth and sky, between humanity and the divine.

Temple de Angkor Wat
Temple de Angkor Wat

In addition, the temple of Angkor Wat is steeped in Buddhist and Hindu spirituality, and its sculptures and bas-reliefs depict mythological and religious scenes. This influence is echoed in the homes of Jusant, where motifs and wall carvings can tell stories, celebrate nature, or perhaps reflect spiritual and moral teachings. Dwellings thus become places charged with meaning, transcending their functionality to become ritual and meditative spaces. Angkor Wat is also famous for its creative use of water, with moats surrounding its enclosures. This innovative approach is potentially perceptible in Jusant, where water could play a symbolic or functional role in the architecture, underlining the relationship between man and nature, just as in the Cambodian temple.

Jusant‘s architecture transcends mere functionality to become an artistic and symbolic expression. These dwellings tell a story through their forms, fusing elements of different cultures and nature to create a post-apocalyptic landscape that exudes vitality, resilience and beauty.

An over-sea world

The game finely explores the influence of the seabed and aquatic creatures throughout its world, particularly in the captivating Chapter 4, which is immersed in a quasi-underwater cave and features an aesthetic that evokes the underwater world and its wonders. The flying jellyfish that populate this chapter add a touch of grace and mystery, recalling the bioluminescent marine creatures of the ocean abyss.

Coral-like plants and shipwrecks scattered throughout the environment reinforce the link with the marine theme. Jusant skilfully plays with these elements to create a coherent, richly detailed world, where the remnants of previous civilization seem to have merged harmoniously with marine life.

Jellyfish by Andrey Surnov
Jellyfish by Andrey Surnov

The Balast, monumental representatives of the element of water, fit perfectly into this aesthetic. These immense celestial whales add a majestic, almost mythical dimension to the Jusant universe. They embody the symbiosis of sky and sea, offering players a unique visual and emotional experience, at the crossroads of two natural elements imbued with mystery and infinity. Jusant‘s artistic exploration of the ocean depths is also evident in its use of underwater light and the bluish hues that characterize Chapter 4, creating an immersive atmosphere where the interplay of light and shadow reveals the fascinating details of this fantastic underwater world.

Ballast réalisé par Andrey Surnov
Ballast réalisé par Andrey Surnov

DON’T NOD’s game doesn’t just draw inspiration from the marine world, it also incorporates it meticulously and ingeniously into its visual storytelling. Chapter 4 and its aquatic elements are a testament to the game’s artistic mastery, capturing the very essence of the beauty and mystery of the seabed to deliver a videogame experience as immersive as it is enchanting.

Artistic design through emotion

The solitude of Team Ico’s worlds

Admitting that it’s sometimes pleasant to feel alone may sound strange, but that’s precisely what Fumito Ueda’s games manage to capture. They plunge you into a spellbinding atmosphere where you are one of the few living beings in a vast, infinite world, devoid of life except for a few pockets of wildlife scattered across the horizon. This comforting magic builds naturally, revealing a mystery from the remnants of life left long before you appeared.

Shadow of the Colossus follows a protagonist seeking to resurrect a loved one by slaying otherworldly creatures simply trying to exist in an environment long dominated by a heavy tranquility. Each slain beast increases the loneliness that pervades the game world, creating a morbid, melancholy atmosphere. Yet this solitude is also beautiful, with endless fields and deserts highlighting the vast, empty expanse of this continent.

The influence of Shadow of the Colossus can be felt in Jusant
The influence of Shadow of the Colossus can be felt in Jusant

Assis sur votre cheval, vous parcourez ce monde à la recherche du néant, laissant les vents et les musiques dicter vos mouvements. Vous n’avez pas besoin d’aider, mais c’est la bonne chose à faire. Prenant la main de votre compagnon, vous vous préparez à affronter ensemble le monde vide qui s’offre à vous. La terre que vous explorez est délibérément ambiguë, fournissant des indices ténus sur son histoire et les circonstances entourant ce garçon.

In all Fumito Ueda’s games, the absence of recognizable language reinforces the theme of solitude. Subtitled sequences are rare, forcing us to rely on foreign exchanges and human grunts to understand the protagonists’ emotions. This pushes us to connect with the characters on the most basic level. The removal of linguistic understanding encourages our minds to read between the lines in a way that few games offer.

The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian, about the bond between a young boy and a bird-dog-cat, is one of the most poignant stories in video game history. Trico and the child rescue each other in a world that welcomes as much as it tries to destroy. Alone or with a silent companion, Fumito Ueda’s catalog offers a unique atmosphere in the gaming world. Lonely, hostile and brimming with possibilities, his games leave you in suspense, reinforcing the fascination for exploration in search of anchors in worlds determined to leave you bewildered. But even after the credits roll, the questions remain, and that’s part and parcel of the experience.

Jusant, in the manner of Fumito Ueda’s games, embodies a design philosophy of subtraction that translates into a unique immersive experience. The sensation of solitude, carefully cultivated, becomes a centerpiece of this work. DON’T NOD exploits the art of subtraction, purifying its environment to create an atmosphere where every element carries emotional weight. The vast expanses of desert, devoid of abundant life, amplify the sense of solitude, plunging the player into a world where isolation becomes palpable. Letting the player’s imagination run wild, Jusant offers just enough clues to arouse curiosity, transforming apparent absence into a canvas rich in possibilities.

Journey‘s beauty transposed to a tower

Jusant draws heavily on Journey’s inspiration, shaping its narrative and aesthetic essence to create an experience that touches players deeply. Like Journey, Jusant unfolds in a desert environment, where sand, vast expanses and a majestic mountain evoke similarities with the austere, poetic landscapes of the previous game.

As in Journey, the Jusant player is led to explore a vast, often solitary world, imbued with an aesthetic that fuses minimalism and artistic grandeur. The desert, which seems to be a protagonist in its own right, creates a backdrop imbued with spirituality, similar to that seen in Journey. The desert landscape is not simply a backdrop, but an emotional force that guides the narrative and the player’s experiences.

On ressent la même sérénité que dans Journey dans l'ascension de Jusant
Jusant‘s ascent is as serene as Journey‘s.

The encounters with other characters in Journey, though brief and often muted, create poignant and unforgettable moments. These fleeting interactions are marked by a sense of connection and mutual understanding, despite the absence of dialogue. Jusant picks up on this fundamental element, allowing players to cross paths with other travelers in this post-apocalyptic world, evoking a similarity in the way these fleeting encounters can be perceived as miraculous events.

Jusant‘s Journey-influenced art design aims to touch hearts, evoking deep emotions through the aesthetics of the desert and chance encounters. As in Jenova Chen’s game, where every visual element is thought out to create a unique emotional experience, Jusant exploits a meticulously chosen visual palette and carefully designed settings to immerse players in a journey transcending the boundaries of the post-apocalyptic, while maintaining the spirit of hope and discovery characteristic of these works.

Climbing, at all costs

The infinite ascent of the mountain in Jusant finds deep philosophical parallels with the ideas of Gilles Deleuze and Friedrich Nietzsche, while at the same time embracing a low-tech aesthetic that transcends the norms of conventional science fiction. Jusant‘s low-tech approach is in line with two philosophies that reject the idea of a posthumanity defined by monumental technological advances. Nietzsche, notably in his concept of the Übermensch, proposes a vision of human elevation that does not depend on sophisticated technology, but rather on the individual will to transcend limits and create one’s own values.

Deleuze, meanwhile, develops the notion of becoming in his philosophy, emphasizing the importance of movement, transformation and creativity. Jusant, by embracing a low-tech approach, aligns itself with this idea, emphasizing direct physical ordeal, constant displacement, and perseverance as means of achieving elevation rather than relying on advanced technologies. The relentless climbing of the mountain in Jusant thus becomes a philosophical act, an existential journey in keeping with the principles of Nietzsche and Deleuze. It embodies the will to power, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the desire to understand the world through direct, immersive experience.

Illustration of La Horde du Contrevent by Nicolas Fructus
Illustration of La Horde du Contrevent by Nicolas Fructus

The Piper’s ascent echoes the transcendent philosophy of La Horde du Contrevent, establishing a profound connection between the two works. While La Horde embarks on a perilous journey through a world shaped by a raging wind, seeking the mythical origin of the wind in the Extreme-Amount, Jusant offers a similar experience through the relentless climbing of an endless mountain.

Like the mystical quest in La Horde, the mountain climbing in Jusant goes beyond simple physical exploration. It is a symbolic act of transcending limits, of seeking elevation and knowledge through intense physical effort. Far from technological visions of posthumanity, La Horde and Jusant take a low-tech approach, privileging direct physical experience rather than delegating their efforts to technological contrivances. In both cases, the emphasis is on the physical ordeal, the direct confrontation with the world and the need to understand reality through total immersion.

The humanist and vitalistic message of Alain Damasio’s book, urging us to seek elevation through an intimate relationship with the world, physical and mental perseverance, and deep connections with ourselves and others, is also reflected in Jusant. The relentless climbing of the mountain is a call to live in the present, to embrace reality without transcendent expectations, to measure our freedom by the yardstick of the world around us.

The arrival at the summit is clearly one of the game's most memorable moments (concept art by Andrey Surnov).
The arrival at the summit is clearly one of the game’s most memorable moments (concept art by Andrey Surnov).

The connection between these two works lies in their ability to inspire profound reflection on the human condition, vitality, and the potential for elevation beyond expectations. Jusant, through his endless ascent, invites us to follow the path of the characters in La Horde du Contrevent, to embrace the intensity of life in our personal quest for unexplored heights.

The connection between these two works lies in their ability to inspire profound reflection on the human condition, vitality, and the potential for elevation beyond expectations. Jusant, through his endless ascent, invites us to follow the path of the characters in La Horde du Contrevent, to embrace the intensity of life in our personal quest for unexplored heights.

Sources

Articles

https://usbeketrica.com/fr/article/la-horde-du-contrevent-une-alternative-a-la-posthumanite-technologique#:~:text=La%20Horde%20du%20Contrevent%20nous,nous-mêmes%20et%20aux%20autres

https://www.theringer.com/2022/3/11/22966978/journey-jenova-chen-thatgamecompany-video-games-art

https://characterdesignreferences.com/art-of-animation-5/art-of-nausicaa-of-the-valley-of-the-wind

Videos

Kipp0, JUSANT – Le regard vers le HAUT, 2023, 7 min 20, URL : https://youtu.be/82hFmkxSjgI?si=bsd23CNh6S-ptwrZ

Pier-re Lova-ti, 👉👈 Le futur du JEU VIDÉO sera SENSUEL (ou ne sera pas), 2023, 12 min 35, URL : https://youtu.be/Nc8a08tdWZA?si=R7EsE8LxVTMBen1G

1 Comment

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olireply
February 13, 2024 at 5:59 pm

Excellent in-depth review. This should have more comments. 

As someone who has played all the games mentioned here, you explained precisely what they all have in common and what I like about this kind of game. the sense of solitude, vastness, and the unknown.

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