2023 has undoubtedly been a year of big games — beautiful games, ambitious games, games with so much depth and complexity that they can keep players satisfied for months. However, not every game needs to be that: Sometimes a game just needs to do one thing perfectly, or offer a short-but-enjoyable experience in order to be memorable. Jusant, Don’t Nod’s new mountain-climbing adventure game, does both, so I thought I’d give it a little mini-look for this week’s column.

In Jusant, you play as a small, unnamed protagonist who climbs — climbs pretty much anything. The game’s environments are comprised of sheer cliff faces dotted with climbing holds, which the protagonist clambers up with dexterity that would make an Assassin’s Creed hero blush. The game’s mechanics are brilliant in their simplicity — you use two buttons to control the protagonists arms (shoulder buttons on the controller; mouse buttons on the PC) and hold and release them to hold and release their grip. It gives movement this fluidity I haven’t felt in a game in a long time.

The story is also interesting, even if it’s told in that indie game fashion where the protagonist never speaks and must piece together the lore of the world through context clues and discarded scraps of paper. The protagonist is walking through what’s left of an abandoned civilization, and the explanation for why they’re climbing and what they hope to achieve is something the player is just going to have to wait to discover along the way. Overall, it’s a delightful, charming adventure game that does one thing very, very well — and that’s worth just as much, if not more to me than a game that tries to do everything with middling results.

So what else happened this week?

We at GamesBeat are pleased to finally reveal that we’re holding our next event — called Pixels to Pop Culture — in LA this year on the same day as the Game Awards. Given this week we got the announcement of a live-action Zelda movie, I can’t think of a better time to discuss the intersection of games and Hollywood, nor a more appropriate moment to discussion the transition of games from niche hobby to mass media culture.

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We also finally got confirmation that Rockstar Games are dropping the trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto title soon, though I think that would have been a reasonable thing to expect before the end of the year. Take-Two’s financial earnings suggest they’re prepping to launch a major money-earning title (if not several) between mid-2024 and early 2025, and if that’s GTA VI, then a trailer had better be coming sooner rather than later. Bioware also released another teaser trailer for an upcoming Mass Effect game, but I’m less sanguine about that coming out any time soon.

In personal news, I’ll be continuing to burn through my 2023 backlog of titles before it comes time to tally up my final year-end list. Kazuma Kiryu and I have been enjoying our reunion in Like a Dragon Gaiden, and I’ve also been making time for Thirsty Suitors. I’m hoping to have my list come out to a nice round number, if only so that it’s more fun to read. But trying to choose a Game of the Year this year? Yeah, that’s going to be a long debate over the Thanksgiving turkey.

What to play this week

What’s new:

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
  • Football Manager 2024
  • Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
  • Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2
  • The Invincible
  • Dungeons 4
  • Risk of Rain Returns
  • Stronghold: Definitive Edition
  • Berzerk: Recharged
  • Tintin Reporter: Cigars of the Pharaoh

New on subscription services:

  • Wild Hearts (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Mafia II: Definitive Edition (PlayStation Plus)
  • Dragon Ball: The Breakers (PlayStation Plus)
  • Aliens Fireteam Elite (PlayStation Plus)
  • Centipede: Recharged (Prime Gaming)
  • Evan’s Remains (Prime Gaming)
  • Roboquest (GeForce Now)
  • Space Trash Scavenge (GeForce Now)
  • Airport CEO (GeForce Now)
  • Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 (GeForce Now)
  • Farming Simulator 19 (GeForce Now)
  • GoNNER (GeForce Now)
  • GoNNER2 (GeForce Now)
  • Jurassic World Evolution 2 (GeForce Now)
  • Onimusha: Warlords (GeForce Now)
  • Planet of Lana (GeForce Now)
  • Q.U.B.E. 10th Anniversary (GeForce Now)
  • Trailmakers (GeForce Now)
  • Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (GeForce Now)
  • Football Manager 2024 Touch (Apple Arcade)
  • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Paper Mario (Nintendo Switch Online)

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