The Tarnishing of Juxtia is a side-scrolling adventure game that mixes in elements found in the soul’s genre. For those who are unaware of what that means, the soul’s genre is known for its difficulty by testing a player’s patience through tough combat instances that reward the player with an in game currency that can be utilized to level up certain attributes and improve their avatar. When players lose in combat, they are usually sent back to a check point and lose all the “exp” they earned and are tasked with making it back to the spot where they met an untimely end. If the player can get back to this spot, they are given their exp back and can continue their journey but if they fall once again before getting back their stuff, they lose their exp and have to make it all back up again. With the brief explanation of what a souls game out of the way, let’s talk about The Tarnishing of Juxtia and how it tries to be different than the many other games that flood this genre.
The Tarnishing of Juxtia starts with players being reincarnated by a goddess named Juxtia and are sent through a mini tutorial to introduce them to the gameplay and get the player accustomed to what they will be dealing with over the course of the game. As players journey through the world, they will meet a cast of characters who will spend their time unfolding the lore around the two kingdoms and the ruins that surround them. There is voice acting for some of the characters and this makes each encounter feel a little livelier.
Juxtia, the goddess of the world, explains the history of the world as well as gives the player their task to complete along the journey. Once the game begins, players see their avatar rise from the ground and sets off on the tough road ahead of them.
Gameplay can be broken up into two different categories and that will be how this review is explained. With an upgrade system, skill tree, and item pickups around the world, it will be easier if we split the two things up.
Out of Combat
When players are not in combat, they will be traversing the dark and gloomy world. There are many characters that the player will come across such as the brandmaker who gives the players their first power skill or the Weaveress who increases the number of times players can heal themselves. There will also be occasions where the player must handle platforming puzzles as well as getting through traps located in each area. As players unlock new areas on the map and open up new passageways, they will also unlock new weapons and armor sets to use.
Each weapon type has its own unique feel to it and can be utilized to fit any players particular playstyle. For instance, I preferred to use the rapier type weapon since it was fast and torn down the enemy’s stamina bar quickly and it paired well with the standard sword. The promise of finding new weapons and armor sets had me exploring every little cove that I came across, but the linear gameplay ensured that I didn’t get too lost along the way.
There are different areas that players can level up that impact different attributes such as health, stamina, and damage out put as well as other stats. Since each encounter may cause a player to lose out on much needed exp, it is important that players remember to spend it when they can or else, they might just lose it all due to a poorly mistimed jump or an unfortunate run in with one of the monsters in the game.
Combat pits players against a multitude of enemies that all have various abilities and its up to the player to determine the best approach to each fight. Carelessness can cause a player to loose a lot of experience that they have built up so it is important to be cautious about each fight as well as look for any surprise ambushes that may occur. The Tarnishing of Juxtia has players also keeping an eye on their stamina bar but there is a mechanic to reward players for each enemy they take down. After connecting enough consecutive attacks, they can utilize the energy rush system to get extra stamina which allows players to attack without working about running out for a short period of time. This is especially useful when it comes to the bosses since they will present a major challenge for the player.
Each weapon type that is picked up along the way has its own weight and feel to it, with heavy weapons being slower with more damage while lighter weapons are faster but do less damage. Players can switch between two different weapons and are also equipped with magic spells and special abilities they can pick up from bosses. This means that the players arsenal has a lot that can be mixed around, but the unfortunate part of the combat is that the animations don’t feel as fluid as they could. It took me a few fights to realize that the initial sword has a combo string that can be used. There are also crossbow enemies that have arrows that feel as if they can track the player, even after being fired, so it felt like a guaranteed hit each time.
Players will have to navigate platforming sections while also handling different enemy types and sometimes this juggling act can be a hassle and result in some unnecessary deaths. While there are certain fights that I lost due to a skill issue, there also was a fair share of deaths that had me ready to toss the steam deck across the room out of frustration since it was a hit that shouldn’t have landed or an unclear hitbox. For example, the first boss has a wind up attack but if the player is located behind the enemy they are still able to take damage.
With a simple story and a play time of roughly 20 hours, The Tarnishing of Juxtia is a fun bite sized adventure for those looking for something with a little difficulty to it. There aren’t too many gripes to be had with the game but one of the biggest flaws to be seen is the fact that combat can start to feel repetitive outside of boss fights and some of the enemies have some outlandish attacks that may feel unfair to some players. This is definitely a game worth picking up and is a wonderful addition to the ever growing genre of souls like games but with its own charm to make it stand out from the rest.