Jotun has a great sense of scale, and the payoff and reveal of set piece moments is very well constructed. The two often come together, and the realm of Jörmungandr’s Lake shows this combination off very well.
Pay off requires build up, and we get that just from the name of the realm. Thora also talks of the Jörmungandr, the offspring of Loki and the slayer of Thor. Anything that slayed Thor must be very strong, so this being is clearly powerful. The scale of the cliffs leading up to the lake gives hints to the size of the inhabitant of the lake. The lake itself is a vast plain of ice. There are fish circling below, but the depth of this lake means there’s something big here. Yet, we’ve seen nothing so far. Then a black shape surges below. Many moments pass before it tapers off into the abyss.
The ice is slippery underfoot, which adds an element of challenge meaning Thora’s timing will have to be exact if anything happens. Below the ice something stirs. Something baring teeth. Closer and closer still it comes. It’s clear a dodge is needed. The ice splinters, and then shatters, the Jörmungandr reaching towards the sky itself. Then it dives below. The rune Thora seeks lies across the ice. And the way out requires a trek back across the frozen expanse.
The setup and payoff for Jörmungandr pleases me for a number of reasons. It isn’t rushed. It’s paced well. We get an early set up (Thora’s introductory speech), a timely reminder (Jörmungandr passing underneath) and a perfect reveal, with broken ice left in its wake. And Jörmungandr lives up to the reveal, in the combination of its sheer size and the beautiful artwork that brings it to life.
Something to note here is the size of the map. Not too big, and not too small. It’s large enough to encourage exploration, but not so large as to make exploration a chore. It reminds me of why I like Yharnam so much. That’s a fine thing. What also helps is that everything that can be found here is actually worth finding. There’s new abilities for Thora to use, an item that boosts the size of the health bar and information about Norse myth and legend. And to go back to the use of scale in Jotun, all of these things are massive in comparison to Thora, further conveying the size of the world we are in.
I feel there’s very little fat here. That’s a nice thing to see.
This gets mentioned a lot when it comes to Jotun, even in this previously in this piece, but it’s not without good reason. The artwork is just gorgeous. Well crafted hand drawn artwork carries itself very well, and Jotun may be at the peak of this in video games. That alone makes the realms worth exploring. I just want to see more it. I don’t want to leave until I’ve seen all of it. Each realm has a moment where the camera pans out to reveal a beautiful vista or scene. It plays into the scale I talked about earlier, showing just how big this realm is, and how small Thora is in it, and just how great of an achievement it is for Thora to work her way through it. Thora really is treading a measure with the Gods.
Truthfully this isn’t the Rune from this level. I found the rune here a long time ago before I figured out video recording. But the effect is similar.
It has to be said that Jörmungandr’s Lake is one of Jotun’s more action orientated realms. Other ones are puzzle and navigation based, and I will talk about one of those at a later date. But Jörmungandr’s Lake is one of Jotun’s great realms. For the great artwork, the scale of the place and the challenge we navigate.