03/01/2018

☆ Review: The Deer God "A visually tasty game with a great sense of movement let down by clunky mechanics" ☆

Share This Post On Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share This Post On

Review: The Deer God

Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Rating: Melting


The Deer God starts off with your character, a deer hunter who is killed by a pack of wolves. Upon dying, you are reincarnated as a deer by the titular ‘Deer God’ and, beginning as a fawn you must work your way through the game, platforming and solving puzzles as well as defeat the occasional boss in order to fulfil your destiny.
I really wanted to like The Deer God but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. The pixel art style is gorgeous, especially as you gain speed and leap your way through the various rolling scenes accompanied by a really well-chosen musical score, your hoof prints clattering across grass and stone as you grow and become more powerful as the in-game days progress. Unfortunately, most other aspects of the game feel ill-conceived and really bring it down.
The game is presented in 2D and so with very rare exceptions, your aim is to head right. For the first ten minutes or so I assumed that The Deer God was a simple platform game that would take me across various biomes before the end-game because as I knew that it was a port of a mobile game and as such was prepared for a straightforward adventure.

The Deer God mixes up the platforming with fetch quests and puzzles which fare with differing levels of success. For example, one mission in the game requires you to collect Witch Hazel which is hidden in a barrel but as the various biomes are procedurally-generated, you may need to run through the ‘loop’ several times to find the item, which is enjoyable as it focuses on the strongest part of the game, the inherent fun in running through the world at speed. Whereas another quest had an elder deer (there are several of these that grant you extra powers such as double-jumping or heavier attacks, etc.) asking me to kill a giant turtle that resided underground but it was such a stiff, uninteresting boss-battle that it ended up being an exercise in tedium.
The combat throughout the game is generally poor, most often consisting of dashing towards your enemy with your antlers, they will then pass through you and so you turn around and repeat/ For all of the enemies in the game (again, randomly generated) this is pretty much the same with the exception of boss battles which aren’t required in order to proceed with the story. A cobra and a toad were the others I came across and both were unenjoyable and felt like padding.

You have three bars on your HUD, a health bar; hunger bar and energy bar (this recharges your various attacks and unlocked powers such as fireballs). Food is relatively plentiful in the game so starvation rarely becomes an issue and there are also other items that can be picked up but I must admit I rarely used as they weren’t needed until major boss battles. The items do things like replenishing your hunger/health, let you give /take more damage, etc. they add some flavour to the game but are more an embellishment than a necessity.
Summary:
The Deer God isn’t a bad game, it just seems to concentrate on its own worst characteristics. If the developers had removed the procedurally generated aspect and the game instead was a more focused platforming adventure, the ending would feel more rewarding than it currently does. The graphics, sense of movement and music are easily the strongest assets but they are bogged down by simplistic, awkward combat and clunky boss battles. I can imagine that the random generation was added to give a variation on the second playthroughs but the truth for me was that The Deer God isn’t interesting enough to warrant a second run-through. There is a more difficult mode available with a set amount of lives as opposed to the normal mode which just sets you back to your last game save (you can mate with other deer and the game autosaves at certain points) but due to the cheap deaths that occur due to the random generation, usually through blind jumps and foreground scenery blocking enemies or pit-traps, I can imagine the harder mode would be more infuriating than challenging.

The Deer God is actually currently cheaper on the Switch than on Steam which is very unusual (£7 on Switch and £10.99 on Steam) and at around three hours long, the game is a decent time-killer with a basic story of redemption but I can’t imagine that it’s a game you would return to after completion.

RATING: MELTING
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)


Review By Britt