The Deer God Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

The Deer God Review



You’re a hunter. Armed with a rifle, you and your buddy are waiting for a chance to get a drop on a deer or two. Just because. Then, just as you manage to get a deer in your sights, a predatory animal tears you a new one. Instead of falling into the dark abyss that is the afterlife, a deer deity revives you under one condition – that you gain a new appreciation for the lives of animals. After a short soliloquium, this god resurrects you… as a baby deer. It’s a unique experience, really, as I honestly can’t remember if there’s ever been a game in which the player had to guide a deer through all stages of his life.


Simply majestic.

You’ll quickly figure out the controls – the movement and charge attack functions – and start hooving around the game world. The sense of joy and discovery kicks in almost immediately, in a fashion not entirely dissimilar to the one you could feel while playing Journey. As you run around, jump to eat apples off of trees and fight a random beaver or two, your deer will grow – allowing you to push on even further into the fray. Frolicking around the wonderfully pixelated levels, you’ll come across a vastly diverse selection of different biomes, along with various points of interest that are scattered around. Your main task is to locate all the deer statues, solve their puzzles and acquire the powers they guard. In and of itself – a simple task. As usual, however, things get more complicated really fast. The gameplay consists of you, as a deer, running towards the right side of the screen, avoiding the environmental perils and taking down the hostile animals and hunters. Since you have to keep tabs on three different resources at all times, resource micromanagment is always important. Health, hunger and stamina are these three resources. You’ll be replenishing hunger by eating shrubbery and all kinds of fruit, stamina and health will refill automatically. As you move through the lands, you’ll come across many different NPCs who will offer you quests.The rewards will often help you get to higher routes and find better items. It’s all very neatly blended into the basis of the gameplay, and the only real issue I have is that the gameplay simply doesn’t feel fleshed out enough to keep the players enthralled for a more prolonged gameplay session. The controls and the attack function, to be exact, could have been a bit tighter in execution. But the rest of the game more than makes up for that fault.

The Deer God places great emphasis on pacing. That is, you’ll often want to rush from one area to another, but the abundance of perils you’ll meet along the way will put you in your place. This game is a sidescroller, that much is obvious, but instead of filling the world with enemies in overwhelming number as is practice in the genre, the developers decided to place them only occasionally, allowing you to take in the atmosphere (arguably the game’s biggest asset) at your own pace. The ambient is entwined with the music and biome you’re in, and the game does a wonderful job at creating a fair selection of different situations you’re going to find yourself in. For example, you’ll begin in a sunny, forested area with nary a hunter in sight. In this biome, you’ll eat apples, socialize with other friendly animals and generally chill. Further down the line you’ll come across a dead, deserted biome with snakes and scorpions, or even a snowy one where food will be difficult to come across. It’s this variety of content that’s going to keep you on your toes, really, as you’ll never know quite what to expect next.

Now, The Deer God is generally a pretty relaxing experience. At least, until you die. Death respawns your deer to the last checkpoint you found, but also resets all of your skills and the maturity level you’ve reached by that point. This system is very rigorous, as you’ll die a fair number of times along the way. This will, in turn, mean that you have to level up your deer avatar again from scratch because some of the later levels simply won’t be in your reach if you don’t grow. Thankfully, the enemies are never that difficult to take down, with boars being the only real exception. The skills and items you’ve collected also stay with you post mortem, so you’ll have at least some resources to dedicate towards regrowing your beloved deer. As unfair as this might seem, I feel that it successfully transpires the message of the game – appreciate life in whatever form it might be. The fragility of the deer is important, and works well within the context of the game. Even though it might lead to some frustration with many players.

Visually, The Deer God is an exceedingly pretty game, using some advanced post-processing effects to improve upon the seemingly pixelated basis. That is, all of the game’s assets are built using voxels (a three-dimensional version of the ordinary pixel), which makes it stand out in the crowd. The effects of sandstorms, blizzards or even render of sun enhance the image fidelity even further. It’s a lovely package, really, and it only gets better when you consider the fact that character animations and sound design are both up to par with the game’s graphics.

Finally, I can safely say that The Deer God is a unique, fun and relaxing experience where only death will stand in the way of absolute leisure. Its wonderful graphics and diverse environments will keep you busy for a fair amount of time, while the message it tries to convey stays true from beginning to the end.