Over two years after its initial PC release, The Deer God makes its way onto PS4 and Vita. How much fun is it to play a platformer that deals in heavy subjects like karma and reincarnation?
The premise to The Deer God is an interesting one. Starting out as a hunter, you run into The Deer God – who shows you the other side of the story by transforming you into a relatively helpless deer. Suddenly you’re no longer the hunter, but rather the hunted. It’s karma doing its work, so to speak – and this continues throughout the rest of the game as well.
The Deer God is a platformer in which the game world is randomly generated for every new game you start. This means that missions, jumps and the order in which you tackle various challenges can differ between individual playthroughs. For the most part this works really well, as you can even see metroidvania-like aspects when you encounter challenges you cannot yet tackle and will have to try later on once you’ve learned a certain ability.
There are also consistent flaws in the randomly generated worlds though – and these often have to do with the platforming aspects of the game. The fact that getting around the game world doesn’t force you down the same road every time is great, but it can also be hard (or even impossible) to see whether a jump or drop is manageable because of this. This results in leaps of faith and, regularly, mild frustration.
The art style is of the pixel art variety, but stays away from the 8 bit look that many similar games seem to prefer. Instead, the game feels more detailed and atmospheric than you’re expect from a pixel platformer – something that’s enhanced by the day and night cycle in the game. It’s especially nice looking for a Vita game, though Sony’s handheld struggles to keep up as times – we found it better to just stream the PS4 version to the Vita instead, but not everyone will have that option.
I already mentioned that karma stays a factor in the game, even after the initial setup wraps up. This is because your actions as a deer align you with good or evil as well – and killing too many helpless animals might see you reincarnated as one of them the next time you’re killed. It’s a great dynamic that makes you think before you act – sometimes because you don’t want to suffer the consequences, other times because that’s exactly what you want.
The Deer God is flawed as a platformer but its interesting premise makes it a neat little game nonetheless. It’s available as a cross-buy title right now in the Playstation Store.