tue 17/10/2017

The Deer God | reviews, news & interviews

The Deer God

The Deer God

Live as a deer. Survive as a deer. Fall off tiny ledges... as a deer

'The Deer God': the gamer is reincarnated into the body of a deer

The Deer God is a platform game set in a lovingly rendered world of pixel art. It is completely unforgiving and will test to destruction both your platform jumping skills but perhaps also your patience.

In the cut scene that starts the game, you are a hunter who accidentally shoots a young deer before being set upon by wolves. Raised from the dead by the titular forest god, you are reincarnated into the body of the deer and made to serve out a curious penitence. You must now live and survive in your new body, while helping some other inhabitants of the wilderness solve their problems. Along the way, you will learn new and mystical abilities and uncover the secrets of the Deer God.

So far, so blurby. What this means in practice is that you must bounce around the pixel-art world of the forest and environs while avoiding or attacking other forest animals.The forest is composed of hills, tree stumps and other obstacles over a parallax scrolling backdrop. In it are hundreds of critters, from spiky hedgehogs to rock-slinging gorillas who will attack you on sight.

If you mate with another deer (coyly portrayed by a heart-shaped energy bar) you will be reborn

Your deer begins as a frail faun, almost defenseless and only able to make short jumps over obstacles until you meet the first Elder Deer. This wizened stag will teach you the vital skill of double-jumping. With this classic platform game move you can jump higher and even change direction in mid-air, a vital manoeuvre if you are going to reach the highest peaks and avoid falling into the spiked pits someone has careless dotted around the forest. Fall on a spike, or lose enough health to a creature and you will die, only to be born again in a new faun body.

This death and rebirth cycle can sometimes see you awake in the body of another forest creature. It can also work as a sort of save system - if you mate with another deer (coyly portrayed by a heart-shaped energy bar filling up as you gaze longingly at each other) then you will be reborn in the body of your child in the place you left it. Keeping your offspring alive is therefore recommended. With various characters assigning you fetch-and-carry quests, mystic stones to shift around and Elder Deer to appease there is a lot to do and your deer will grow both in size from faun to stag and in skills. The game looks beautiful and the gameplay is challenging.

The Deer GodThere are two problems. The first is that the gameplay can be really challenging. Brutally unforgiving, even. The touch controls are tricky to master and your attacks - via an onscreen button or a swipe gesture - are a little laggy. The procedurally generated obstacles can throw up some near impossible gaps and ledges and you often have to make a leap of faith, unsure if solid ground or a pointy deathtrap will rise up to meet you.

The second is considerably more serious. The game is crawling with bugs. The sprites glitch, the background vanishes and you can even find the game’s camera zoomed out and behind a layer of parallaxed foreground, unable to see the action. Events happen out of sequence, showing you the end of a quest before it begins; I lost two saved games completely - the slots emptying mysteriously when I restarted the game. These are problems that will likely be fixed over time but at the moment the game feels half-finished and in sore need of user-testing.

If you somehow manage to avoid the bugs The Deer God is an enjoyable and distinctive platform game that combines great art direction with brutally hard gameplay. Until the developers finish it off though, this is a hard game to recommend.

@stuarthoughton

The game feels half-finished and in sore need of user testing

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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