Two friends venture out on their annual hunting trip in the wilds of America. With heavy rain, a storm overhead, and night drawing in, it isn’t looking like they’ll land a kill today. As one man retires for the night, his friend stays up in the hope that surely today will be his day. Just as his hopes are fading like their campfire, he spots a huge deer through the trees. This is his chance. He readies his rifle and takes aim. Unfortunately he is to be the victim this night, as the pack of wolves over his shoulder has other plans for him.
Deer God is a side scrolling adventure game presented in the ever popular pixel art style. The landscapes are created in 3D and shows a depth to the environment, if only visually, which are quite stunning. From empty deserts to snow topped mountains and rich dense forests, care and consideration has been used when generating these biomes. In each of these biomes are a series of friends and foes, each unique to their setting, apart from the regular appearance of deer.
Didn't you know deer teleport?
As you explore these lands you come across Elder deer who offer abilities in exchange for completing a task. These tasks take the form of puzzle solving, fetch or kill quests. These abilities not only aid you in combat but also allow progression past certain obstacles, opening up the world. In addition to these abilities there are others which are unlocked to support your journey. These include fire balls, frost balls and teleportation (didn’t you know deers could teleport?). Although somewhat far fetched, they are a welcome addition with some of the more difficult enemies and bosses.
Exploration is the key to Deer God and I found myself frequently back tracking to check a doorway or passage that could show a different way to pass an area. Generally this extra exploration led to the discovery of a treasure chest which gave items to aid me, or a boss which when defeated showered me in more items. In cases where the bosses were very difficult these items felt a bit underwhelming and not worth the effort, or item cost, to acquire them.
To survive this hostile world you need to manage 3 things. Health (obviously), energy (for kicking ass) and hunger. I’m no stranger to having manager a character's hunter and ensure they are well fed. Initially there appeared to be sufficient food available in the area to allow for steady exploration without too much issue. However especially in certain biomes food seemed extremely scarce and this led to quick marching through entire areas ignoring alternative passages, in the fear of dying of starvation. In fact most of my deaths were caused by the lack of a full tum. This was a disappointment as I enjoyed being able to explore all the areas on offer. They’ve been built in the game for a reason, and deserved to be explored.
The dying mechanic of Deer God is actually quite enjoyable. As you travel the lands your young baby deer starts to grow up and after a while you adorn a pretty impressive set of antlers. If you happen to have collected a deer skull on your travels, then death is just respawning in your current state and location. If on the other hand you don’t have this collectable, then you’re reborn as a new baby deer at your last save point. Albeit there are abilities only available at certain ages, so you temporarily lose these, but it’s great way of handling respawning in a game. These reincarnations aren’t limitless though. To ensure your immortal soul continues on, you need to find a doe and fill her love heart (this is not a euphanism!).
I soon found myself charging through the lands from story point to story point
After a while, with the danger of starvation looming and tougher and tougher enemies appearing, I soon found myself charging through the lands from story point to story point. As the environments and even the landscape I was traversing became very familiar, it start to become same-y. What surprised me with Deer God was the lack of soundtrack. Every game has a soundtrack, admittedly sometime it’s there to fill the void of sound, but when it’s done well it can really boost a game. I can’t help but feel that Deer God could have been lifted tremendously with a well made soundtrack. A missed opportunity.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed Deer God. It has a lot of things that it has done well and especially for several hours it was an enjoyable experience, however after awhile it started to feel limiting and repetitive.
A unique approach to reincarnation and survival, Deer God is an enjoyable experience in the side scrolling genre. The first 4 hours are a pleasure and refreshing, but after this, repetition and monotony sets in. There are a number of areas where this game could be improved to help battle this fatigue.
- Beautiful art style
- Different approach to respawning
- Challenging bosses and puzzles
- Gets repetitive
- No soundtrack
- Poor rewards to challenging bosses