Game Review: The Deer God

by Jonathan Hand @JonathanWHand

In the late 90s and early 2000s we saw the emergence of 3D as the primary graphic choice for most games, however the much loved retro style lived on and today has made a spectacular re-birth due to the massive contribution by the indie game scene with games like Superbrothers: Swords & Sorcery and Limbo.

One recent game that definitely stands out is ‘The Deer God’. The game uses a combination of 3D objects and stunning pixel art to create a deeply immersive world.

Yes, this seems like it could have been a tricky style to achieve but Crescent Moon Games and Cinopt Studios have shown how platformers can still surprise us, with a game (in Beta at the time), that received a multitude of positive customer reviews and industry feedback.

The Story:

Two hunters in the woods by a campfire in the dark of night, one spots a deer. He takes aim, the hunter is completely in the zone, so-much-so that he doesn’t see a wolf creeping up behind him. The hunter fires his rifle at the deer, unfortunately the bullet hits a calf and the wolf attacks its prey. For his crimes against nature- the hunter is presented with a giant deer which one can only assume is the Deer God who punishes the hunter by sending him back into the wilderness as a calf himself. This is where we gain control.

The second you appear in the wild you can run, jump and even attack (using a good old fashioned head butt). Moving just a few feet and you realise that you may talk to certain NPC’s, the ‘Elder Deer’ in particular can bestow certain powers on  you so that you work towards  redeeming  yourself. These powers are rather supernatural though, for example: the ability to perform a double jump.

In your journey you must make sure your health never hits zero, this game is punishing with the infamous permadeath! Satisfying your hunger is one way to prevent this, by, eating the many apples or small berry bushes as you pass them.

DeerGod_IMG.1

It’s more than just a game though; your morals will be tested thanks to a Good/Evil Bar. By killing other deer or friendly wildlife you will be punished and become evil, at one point I was punished for being bad and was transformed into what I could only assume was an otter or beaver of some kind. I couldn’t jump very high or attack but it definitely changed the entire strategy and approach of the game.

Another clever addition was the day-night cycle. This opens up a whole new challenging aspect of the game. Instead of playing the story through you could turn it into a survival mode, see how many days you can survive before death finally catches you! Alternatively you could see how quickly you can finish the story- how many days in where you by the end? As each passing day appears on your screen you think to yourself ‘what did I achieve today? Was it good/bad? Am I even going the right way? Was the day wasted or well spent?’ Get’s us to think even deeper about our actions, would you like to remain a deer forever and frolic in the woods with the other wildlife or are you desperate to become human once more?

DeerGod_IMG.2

With its beautiful pastel greens of the forests to the dreary blue and greys of the caves this game will impress you with each new area you explore.. The background and foreground are both cleverly made as well. they add depth to the levels by occasionally blocking a small section of your screen with a  giant tree in the foreground or by using the cliffs in the background to add a small ledge you can jump on. The game offers you a limited inventory which you can fill with all sorts of useful items like a giant mushroom (a personal favourite of mine), that you can place then bounce off to get to higher places.

If you’re after a new adventure with a twist then this is definitely a game to add to your library.
It’s currently available on Steam for $9.99 USD.

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