Unveiled earlier this year for the Wii U eShop, Jotun: Valhalla Edition is certainly an eye catching game. Thunder Lotus Games dives into Norse mythology, putting the player into the shoes of Thora, a Viking Warrior that must prove herself to earn a place in Valhalla. Those are big stakes for an action-exploration game.
A hit on Steam since September 2015, earning rave reviews for its hand-drawn visuals, it's heading to the Wii U this Summer. It even featured in Nintendo's 'Nindie' slot on the [email protected] Gaming Show, with the Valhalla Edition all set to make handy use of the Wii U GamePad.
To learn more about this one we were able to catch up with creative director Will Dubé and pose a few questions.
What are your favourite tales of Norse mythology? What do you like about them?
My favourite tales are definitely the creation myth (poison rivers coming out of cow udders - what's not to love?) and when Thor dresses up as a bridesmaid to recover Mjölnir. I love the myths because they are old and crazy and unexpected. Norse mythology is super epic. I highly recommend reading the myths!
Jotun has a very stylish hand-drawn art and animation style. What informed this design decision? What are the game's artistic influences?
Thank you! Jotun's style is very much the result of our amazing artists (Jo-Annie Gauthier, Alexandre Boyer and others). We were very much inspired by Studio Ghibli and Disney's renaissance-era films. I think 2D art is amazing because it directly connects the artist with the player. Every brush stroke is hand-drawn!
In the game, Thora battles the titular jotun, giant elementals based on Norse mythology. How did you approach integrating their elements with gameplay? For example, did the mythology influence how the jotun behave and attack, or did you come up with interesting game mechanics first and then matched it to an appropriate element?
Throughout the creative process we were glued to our Norse mythology reference books. We really wanted to bring the stories to life. We knew that if hardcore Viking fans liked Jotun, success would follow. Therefore, whenever we wanted to add a region or a boss to the game, we started in the mythology. Though we did adapt certain things (i.e. there is no purgatory in Norse mythology), we tried to stay as true as possible. For example, Isa, the Winter jotun is inspired by Thrymr and Kaunan, the Fire jotun, by Surtr.
What was your approach when thinking about GamePad integration?
We definitely wanted to do something unique for Nintendo gamers. Having previously worked in mobile games, I knew that having touch pad integration would be a really fun addition. The God Powers lent themselves very naturally to that idea. Also, on the left side of the GamePad screen we were able to add the map. This lets the player glance down and stay in the game flow without having to constantly pause the game to find out where she is. We're really happy with how the Wii U GamePad features turned out and can't wait to share with Nintendo fans around the world!
How does the final game measure up to your original scope? Did you have to leave anything on the proverbial cutting room floor? If so, what?
The great thing about Jotun is that it was Kickstarted back in 2014, allowing us to get great feedback from our backers all through development. They definitely helped us make sure that the game met their expectations and, without them, we wouldn't have had half the success we did. Though we did sacrifice a few things, namely randomly generated levels, it was a good thing because we were able to focus on what was important to players, not what was important to us as developers. We can't wait to ship Valhalla Edition on Wii U this summer. Impress the Gods!
Stort tack till Will!