The Deer God brings a gameplay that makes you feel like you should continuously move forward without ever looking back. Players must relentlessly run through an endless random scenario while avoiding dangerous threats such as traps, hunters, and other natural predators. As a deer, you must quickly avoid enemies that will do everything they can to stop you from running. The game developers have applied this concept into a 2D adventure that ultimately invites players to complete missions that will teach the main character an important lesson about nature and respect. Right at first look, you will notice how the title brings a very promising idea when combining the endless runner/platformer genre with a fascinating retro artistic look.
The Deer God uses a powerful message in its story development to show players the real value of life and nature. You start our journey as a fawn, but as the days go by, time will turn you into an adult deer. The game is extremely simple and for the most part, lacks some extra action for a more intense gameplay. However, players will find several other elements to make it a memorable experience.
The Deer God was developed by Crescent Moon Games and is available for Nintendo Switch for $7.99.
The story begins with the death of a hunter shortly before he attempted to hurt a group of defenseless animals in the wild. As punishment for all the damage he had caused as a hunter, he is forced to live in the form of one of his most precious preys. The game title makes reference to the forest’s Deer God, who is powerful enough to revive the hunter back in the form of a small deer. From that point on, the adventure turns into an action platform that puts the hunter in a wild scenario filled with fierce predators.
Lost in the forest in its new physical form, the deer has no choice but to live a new life in the wilderness, while trying to achieve redemption for its past-life mistakes. Because of that, the player will notice that each chosen action becomes a decisive factor in determining your principles.
The concept of the story sounds interesting at first glance, however, the problem is that it lacks some development. This is a story that challenges the main character to search for redemption, and because of that, I really expected the narrative to have an extra level of depth. As we are constantly taking the deer into different scenarios, I could hardly find interactions that were truly meaningful. The Deer God definitely has a very powerful message in its story, but my main criticism is the lack of synergy between characters to provide a strong prologue from beginning to end.
As mentioned before, The Deer God consists of a basic 2D platform system, where the main scenario is set in the wildlife without any division between stages or levels. In this game, the main environment will gradually change to reflect different times of the day/night and areas such as forests and mountains.
Your goal is to keep running and stay alive as long as possible. The longer you run, the more chances the fawn will have to grow and become an adult deer. One of the main challenges include the predators you will encounter along the way. For example, hogs, snakes, and scorpions are some of the basic enemies found in the game.
Although the running system can be a lot of fun, the structure of the maps can become a little frustrating at times. In certain moments, players will find themselves moving around with a stage that remains stuck in a repetitive loop. This will happen until you solve a specific problem or activate a statue. I understand that clearing objectives before moving to the next stage is one of the most obvious expectations we can find in games, however, there is something a bit confusing in this gameplay. First, I noticed a major lack of consistency every time the game generates the map. There are moments when you will face a scenario that does not require the completion of an objective, while in other moments, you may encounter that extra difficulty through physical obstacles. In my experience, the lack of a regular pattern was one of the main challenges to stay motivated.
Aside from the negative elements, I must say that The Deer God brings a unique a “moral system”, which can really determine if your character has become a better being. The game developers were able to introduce a nice mechanic that will allow you to obtain different special abilities depending on how you act during the game. For instance, attacking and defeating other aggressive animals or hunters will improve your karma. However, hurting other defenseless animals will make the Deer God aware that you have not yet learned your lesson in life. On the top of the screen, you will find a status bar that divides a good and bad side. As you advance in the adventure and face different types of enemies, you will be able to trigger changes in these stats. Defeated carnivores fill the "Light" side while hurting the peaceful herbivorous fill the "Dark" level of the bar. For each statue unlocked, you should be able to get a specific skill, depending on how good or bad you’ve become.
Aside from that, you will also find yourself constantly worrying about the three energy bars available. The red bar represents health and will fill automatically after a certain time without taking any damages. The green bar represents your magic level can be filled by feeding your character on fruits, for example. Finally, the blue energy, express how much of your attacks can still be used against enemies. Once this bar clears out, you will need to wait for it to recharge before attacking again.
AUDIO AND GRAPHICS
The Deer God brings a very interesting design, which is simple and beautiful at the same time. The art found here blends pixelated graphics with 3D scenes, creating an immersive and dynamic setting. Despite the odds of bringing a lower resolution to the table, the game introduces different "depth levels" which completely eliminates the possibility of playing on a boring flat stage.
The game can fascinate players who pay attention to small visual nuances. One example is the main scenery's transition between day and night. Also, the lighting system can affect the environment perception in a very particular way as it helps revealing effects from weather and time. Because of that, you can definitely feel how the game progresses as days go by and the deer continues to grow. One important thing to keep in mind is the fact that growth is directly influenced by your survival status, so dying will literally take your character back to earlier stages of life.
Even though animation quality does not exceed expectations, the game atmosphere creates the perfect setting for a vague, yet profound message. My favorite visual element in the game is the combination of fantastic retro-style graphics. The only problem are the repetitive loops that can exhaust the player when seeing the same environments and little changes.
When it comes to audio elements, there is not really much to criticize. The music is very relaxing and creates a peaceful sensation which reflects the true nature of the game. The best thing about the soundtrack is the fact that it enhances the feeling of living in the wilderness.
Although The Deer God has a thematically interesting design, it fails in the sense of exploring the full potential of its story and gameplay. Repetitive loops can become frustrating and confusing during several different moments.
On the other hand, I found it very interesting to experience the different depths of stages in a pretty pixelated look. The developers were able to provide players with a good experience when living a life through the eyes of a deer. To me, this last positive experience is what really counts. For those reasons, I would recommend this title as a great option for fans of the retro-genre.
|+ Attractive visual elements||– Repetitive loops|
|+ Great music||– Missions and story lack extra depth|
|+ Creative “moral system” as character grows||– Confusing gameplay elements|
|+ Positive and meaningful experience|