Strange Name, great game: Joutomaa

Using the Half Life saga as a springboard, the first installment of the Joutomaa series is well polished, fun and challenging.

It seems that for every terrible Mod I come across I find an equally as amazing one. Joutomaa, which is a retelling of the Half Life universe through someone else eyes besides Gordon Freeman’s, was a pleasant surprise in it’s Valve-level design with tricky and engaging enemy encounters.


Joutomaa begins with a fantastic opening cinematic, giving you indication about the level of skill and love put into these maps as you rock and ride within the Combine Citadel; past moving soldiers, machinery and Stalkers. You quickly realize you have been taken as a captive and as you enter your cell you are greeted by the G Man, and told that it would be in your best interest to escape the city.

You come to, everything before seemingly a dream and told that in fact, you do need to escape. Quickly you are whisked out of the rebel hideout, across a fantastic city square and into a rebel-held church leading into the canals. The mood feels like the beginning levels of Half Life 2, but taking full advantage of the increased/improved models and entities of Episode 1 and 2  with fantastic lighting and tone that almost feels close to a genuine Valve product. The maps where very well optimized for having so many props and models used, and there was no lag whatsoever for it being such a complicated Mod.

The voice acting used here is also top notch, making it very difficult to tell which voice lines came from the games and which ones were recorded just for this project. The voice actor for the GMan is pretty good and while not being fantastic or identical, gets the character across just as well.  When it comes to enemy encounters, you had better get used to things attempting to pop out and surprise you. There where at least two times where I was killed by a kamikaze Zombine and you will find yourself often being bombarded by enemies as you try to escape through the musty canals. The good thing about this strategy is that eventually the developer stops doing it as much, which leaves you constantly on edge.

The second thing about these encounters is that for the first time I had to conserve ammunition. There where many times where I was being overrun by Antlions or even Zombies with only the starter pistol or the Crowbar as my only useable weapons until I found some crates down the line. Doing this in a map makes things much more difficult (In the good way.) and makes you think twice before you shoot anything that moves.

All in all, while Joutomaa does feel short (Which mods don’t?) it’s packed to the brim with incredible quality, tone and skill.  I am very excited for the second installment of this series and where the developer team chooses to take it. Heavily recommend everyone to give this mod a playthough!
Check out the Mod page here:


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