The Deer God – Xbox One/PC Review
Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Publisher: Cresent Moon Games
Platforms: Xbox One/PC
Genre: Platformer, Adventure
Finally, a game has come along that has made every single adult male’s dream come true – to die and be reincarnated as a deer. No? That’s not your fantasy? Oh…okay. Well, regardless, read on about 2015’s The Deer God.
The Deer God, published by Crescent Moon, is a 2D sidescroller/platformer that puts you in the role of a hunter who dies while taking a glorious stag down as a trophy. Due to his sins against nature, he is destined to become the animal that caused the end of his life, and thus experience the world through the animal’s eyes. Yes, the player in The Deer God must face menial, everyday tasks that every deer must accomplish every single day – such as shooting fireballs, defeating 20-foot tall snakes, and communicating with ghosts.
Right off the bat, the game must be commended for how gorgeous it is, using pixels to its advantage to make a uniquely wonderful landscape, slightly reminiscent of Terraria. And much like the aforementioned game, the beautiful world that one experiences in The Deer God is complemented by its equally as gorgeous soundtrack. It’s soothing and ambient, never attempting to become too bombastic or exciting; the soundtrack is absolutely one of relaxation and peace. It fits in perfectly with your surroundings and makes it that much easier to get into the game.
You start off your reincarnation as a fawn, weaker and less agile than your final form, which can be reached rather quickly. As long as you do not perish, you will reach adulthood pretty soon into the game – something that makes the game slightly less challenging, but also necessary for the success of the game, because you cannot do much as a fawn. Given that there’s not much of a linear plot or many directions as to what you are supposed to be doing, reaching adulthood quickly is the easiest way to navigate the animal within this world and find new acquaintances to send you off on very loose and slightly puzzle-based quests.
Once your deer is fully grown, you can run throughout this singular, looping world with ease, almost literally flying from obstacle to obstacle. As a deer, you are able to jump extremely high and for ridiculous distances as well, which makes the game very fun to just run around and soak up the atmosphere. But of course, there are enemies, and you’ll need to find a way to defeat them. Gliding through this beautiful forest is simply not enough in The Deer God.
You are given numerous abilities, ranging from stomping out baddies such as hunters as other animals which may want to kill your deer with a razor hoof attack, or even a fireball which shoots out of your antlers. The ridiculousness of these actions adds a very fun, very unique sense of dry humor to the game. It’s not explicitly funny, and there are no jokes – instead, strange occurrences are often made out to be funny because they are given to you straight-faced, such as the fireball ability, or finding and helping a scuba diver under the water.
While the game certainly is gorgeous, and it certainly is fun to fly around and grow your deer, it most certainly also comes with a series of hefty flaws. Though the controls are very easy and straightforward, they often end up forcing the player into aggravating situations; one of which is getting stuck. There is no climbing involved, and your deer must eat to survive. If you are found in a situation where your deer is too small to get over a column that you overestimated, you are simply forced to stay there until you starve and reincarnate as a fawn once more. While one could argue that this is actually a challenge, I’d say that a point like that is irrelevant; it’s aggravating and doesn’t really add to the game. Challenges in a game often give a sense of achievement to those who overcome them. Here, however, the payoff isn’t really great enough to justify watching your deer starve to death for a couple of minutes. The feeling that The Deer God gives off is that a set of simple controls were set forth and the developing team just went with it, never really modifying them for any particular situation, making the game a bit clunky.
The story, while it does have a very interesting premise, seems like it was dealt with the same way in which the controls might have been…as in, just rolling with it. There’s a very interesting concept here about morality, with a meter by which you can judge your karma level. Killing innocent animals will make you veer towards the dark side, while dealing with the hunters and putting them in their graves will bring you towards the light. However, that seems a bit biased. Shouldn’t good karma be judged by making peace with your enemies, instead of…ending their lives? Yes, I’m overanalyzing it, but hey, I wasn’t the one that put this system in place. It is a very interesting factor, despite the fact that karma does not really have all that much of an effect on the overall game.
The questlines, though, are really what makes the game suffer. Too often are they incredibly vague and unremittingly frustrating. There is an abundance of situations in which the player is given no indication as to what exactly they are supposed to be doing, with only a sentence or to by which to go on from the quest-giver. “Save this herd of deer” becomes more frustrating of a task than it really should be.
While it’s easy to point out the flaws of this game, it’s just as easy to identify the good in it as well. The concept is interesting and quirky, and the soundtrack along with the overall design of the environment is stunning. If nothing else, it’s a great game to download from Steam or onto your Xbox One and kill time with it, running around and flying through the terrain when you have an extra half hour to kill. The Deer God is certainly not a must-play, but it’s also not something that should be dismissed entirely.
The Geeked Gods Score 6.5/10