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Mountain climber Cairn is like Death Stranding meets an unforgiving Jusant

Turns out there are some mountains high enough

Scaling a treacherous mountain in Cairn
Image credit: The Game Bakers

A French game about mountain climbing? No, not that one. This is Cairn, not Jusant, and it’s actually a very different beast. Jusant could be tricky, but climbing was more the way you experienced its story. In survival climber Cairn, the ascent is the story. It seem to mainly be a story about how bad you are at climbing.

Limbs look weird in Cairn. It’s good that they look weird. Don’t quote me on this, since I only have trailers and my own fallible eyes to go on, but the individual joints in the protag’s limbs look to have their own share of physics reactivity. They certainly seem wobbly anyway. So much so that I’d tentatively place Cairn alongside QWOP, Getting Over It, and Death Stranding. Limbs contort in massively unnatural ways, but I much prefer this to an attempt at clean realism at the cost of depth. If a game is willing to risk its atmosphere by giving its hero stupid jelly limbs, you know it's serious about being a simulation first and foremost. That, or it’s an internal maelstrom of rebellious code, but I’m leaning toward the former.

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Cairn comes from The Game Bakers - them of Furi and Haven fame. Each time you fall - not to death, just down - you’ll be able to see the previous routes you’ve taken highlighted. The Game Bakers make it sound like routes are completely freeform, so you won’t be bound to specific paths. Like much-more-chill climber Jusant, you’ll be able to use a limited store of pitons as a sort of checkpoint device. Jusant rewarded you with lovely vistas when you reached a new plateau. Here, the protagonist punctuates each new milestone by screaming a lot.

The trailer also suggests you'll spend a lot of time doing sit-ups in your tent, which I imagine plays into the ‘survival’ aspect. It’s not yet clear whether you might have to eat your own fingers at some point, but rest assured I’ve set up several Google alerts to immediately notify me, should this feature get announced.

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