Jusant’s Accessibility Update Makes One of 2023’s Best Games Even Better

The popular indie game adds easier controls that’ll help everyone in their climbs.

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screenshot from Jusant
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Jusant is already one of 2023’s best games, thanks to its subtle story, beautiful vistas, and captivating climbing mechanic. But a key part of its design may have also made the game unnecessarily hard, turning some players off. Now, thanks to an accessibility-focused update announced Tuesday, the $24.99 game is opening up to a whole new audience.

The premise of Jusant is simple: The game’s silent character explores a mountain, climbing rock by rock, stopping along the way to read notes left by people who’d lived there before. The process of climbing, however, can get a little involved. Players use their controller’s left or right trigger to grab each handhold while managing their character’s stamina to ensure they don’t fall. The process can force a player to hold combinations of buttons for a long time. Even as a non-disabled player, I could sometimes feel strain begin to set in on my hands during long sessions.

Jusant’s new update, coming less than a month after its October 31 release, aims to alleviate those issues while offering a host of other fixes. The big addition for patch 1.04 — which developer Don’t Nod dubs “The Accessibility Update” — is a simplified climbing mode. With this option turned on, players won’t need to grip their controller’s triggers at all to climb. Instead, they can just point the joystick in the direction they want their character to go.

Climbing to Jusant’s peak can be a major test of endurance.

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Disabled players are obviously the primary audience for the new update, but as always, accessibility features can also open up games to players regardless of their disability status.

“How you play changes over the course of your life or during the day,” Anita Mortaloni, accessibility director at Xbox, told PBS earlier this year. “If I’ve been staring at the computer all day, maybe I need night mode. If I broke my wrist snowboarding, the standard controller mapping doesn’t work for me anymore.”

Don’t Nod added other options to simplify playing Jusant in this latest update, including a feature that turns the game more into a serene experience by turn off the stamina mechanic entirely. In No Stamina Mode, players can keep climbing without fear of the character losing losing their grip. Best of all, players won’t need to cramp their hands by holding down buttons while they figure out the game’s many climbing puzzles.

New color blind options should make the colorful world of Jusant easier to navigate.

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With stamina turned on, the chill-seeming Jusant can be surprisingly unforgiving. Make just a few mistakes on your climb and you can find yourself without the energy to continue. While non-disabled players may not be physically unable to complete Jusant, elements like managing stamina, lining up tricky jumps, and keeping up your endurance on long climbs can still be barriers.

Don’t Nod also included new options for rappelling and a simplified jump, all meant to offer options making Jusant a little easier on the hands. And the developer added three color blindness options, too.

Even if none of that applies to you, Jusant’s latest update still makes it a better game than before. In my review of Jusant, I pointed to issues where the character’s hand sometimes zooms to grips I wasn’t aiming for or where spots that looked like handholds couldn’t actually be interacted with. The new update has fixes for both of those issues.

Swinging at the end of your rope should be a little less fiddly now.

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I also ran into problems when I was climbing or wall-running with my rope fully extended and, as the review puts it, “your character tends to fling in unexpected directions.” Fixes to animations and interactions between the character and the environment should both help clean that quirk up as well.

The update is full of improvements to animations in general, as well as collision detection, all of which will help to keep the main character from getting stuck in certain parts of the environment. While I didn’t hit any snags with that in my time with the game, the patch should help keep other players’ journeys just as smooth.

Jusant may have been snubbed at the Game Awards this year, but it’s still one of the year’s best. With this latest update, hopefully even more players will be able to climb to its peak.

Jusant is available now for $24.99 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. It’s also included in Xbox Game Pass.

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