One With Nature
I really wanted to like The Deer God, but with its combination of death traps and ineffective mating system I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it.
The Deer God tells the story of a hunter who gets killed by a wolf. Upon reaching the afterlife he is greeted by the Deer God and reincarnated and given the opportunity to atone for his crime of being a hunter.
You wake up as a fawn and are thrown into a world filled with friendly deer, predators, and for some reason very aggressive porcupines. It was a fun experience exploring the world as a young deer that I can’t say I have ever had while playing a video game. I was running around eating apples off trees and berries from bushes, but then suddenly I encountered a fox. I tried my best to defeat it, but I was just a weak little baby deer and I was bested.
I came face-to-face yet again with The Deer God, but this time something different happened when I came to. I woke up as a lowly porcupine. At first, I thought it was kind of cool that I was able to play as more than just a deer, but then I realized the disadvantages of not being a deer in this game. I fell into a space between two pillars about the same height as my character and I was stuck. So, I got to sit there for just over three minutes, so I could starve to death and be reincarnated as a deer.
I noticed after that first reincarnation that there is a Karma system which seems to give you a weaker animal if it’s higher on the evil side. The whole karma scale is a bit cryptic and there’s nothing in The Deer God that explicitly explains what the advantages or disadvantages are of being evil or good, but it certainly seems more advantageous to be good, so you don’t revive as a garbage porcupine. While I appreciate the option of a good or evil path, they could have at least explained the differences more clearly.
The best part of The Deer God is the art style which merges two-dimensional sprites of animals with a Minecraft-esque look for the terrain. The lighting ties it all together into a beautiful tapestry of nature with stunning god rays and sharp shadows. Then when day turns to night the world looks completely different with luminous moonlight which lets you see all the dangers that lurk in the shadows.
The gameplay and battle system in The Deer God is nothing to write home about with a simple dash attack and some power ups you unlock through puzzles. Not to gloss over the power-up where you launch a giant fireball from your antlers, but it doesn’t add enough variation to the gameplay against normal enemies. The only time where the power-ups mattered were in boss fights where the basic attacks aren’t enough to quickly dispatch the more powerful enemies. A boss battle mode or some more powerful basic enemies would have been appreciated to make this game feel less like a randomly generated endless runner.
At one point in the game I encountered an odd glitch while playing as a snake. I was slithering along and fell into what I believed was a pool of water—I don’t remember exactly because I was just trying to rush to my death to become a deer—falling forever below the map until I waited long enough and died of starvation. I also found a place where I could get stuck using the vine powerup which lets you spawn vertical vines to reach high platforms.
I saw a destructible part of the map above me, so I rode a vine up and then not only could my attack not reach above me, but I was also trapped with two revive items. So that’s where my run of The Deer God ended. I had experienced enough of the game and I wasn’t about to wait for 10 minutes to be able to start playing again. To be fair it was my fault for getting stuck there, but at the same time I shouldn’t even need to be talking about this right now since I shouldn’t have to think, “Oh maybe I shouldn’t do this because I might not be able to play the game for the next 10 minutes.”
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for The Deer God was provided by Crescent Moon Games.