The Deer God is developed by Australia based Blowfish Studios, this isn’t their first outing on console with multiple games under their belt; these guys have experience. From RTS games on console to old school Quake-esque Gunscape; they sure do cover many genres and now they are stepping into the saturated pixel art sidescroller roguelike market with The Deer God.
The Deer God is a quite unique 2D sidescroller with a reincarnation mechanic that is sprung into action when a hunter goes out alone to shoot a deer and is attacked by wolves losing his life; appearing before a deer God who brings him back as a young fawn barely old enough and set out on an adventure to redeem himself. That’s all I’ll give away from the plot, which isn’t very heavy but does have an important and I feel lasting meaning.
For the gameplay at first the game starts out very simple with just three actions. Jump, eat and dash which also doubles as an attack when used to collide into an enemy. With that said the game gets more complex and more interesting with exploration as when travel across the procedurally generated terrain you will discover deer, humans and sometimes a ghost who will give you quests to go complete that will reward you with new abilities like double jumping, slam jump (think marios slam attack) and mating! Speaking of mating by doing so you will father a young fawn that you can keep alive so that when you meet your ultimate demise you may come back as your offspring and not lose your progress in that life, but like classic platformers you may run across some life pickups that will allow you to respawn without losing any progress including any damage incurred on bosses. With that said the game also has sort of Deer shrines that can be stumbled upon that include a puzzle that once completed will bestow the player with a new magic ability. With that said the puzzle can range from easy straight forward interactions of blocks to hair tearing puzzles that only work randomly without any explanation to what has been done wrong or right.
The Deer God does feature combat with the main attack being a dash attack that is both used for travel and for killing enemies, although this is the main method of attacking as you complete the aforementioned puzzle shrines you are given different magic abilities from the classic fireball to a hailstorm attack with these different magic spells the game gets a lot more interesting.
As I pointed out in the last paragraph this game includes boss fights as expected in a roguelike, the game only has 5 boss fights in the game with two being mandatory story related encounters and the other three being random rooms that may or may not spawn sporadically; I have to say that this I feel could have been dealt with in a much better manner either with them being earned through collecting all the magic abilities or through completing other quests because as it’s designed now it’s very rare to encounter 3 of the games 5 bosses with my initial story playthrough I completed the story and collected all but one magic spell without running into one of the 3 optional bosses which is a shame as the boss fights are some of the game’s best experiences.
With all that said and done The Deer God does most of what it sets out to do right and delivers a unique fun and engaging experience that I personally could not stop playing until I had completed the game multiple times and had earned all the PlayStation Trophies. The game does have its faults with it being randomly generated there are times where you see the same terrains over and over and almost rarely encounter the hidden bosses but when it clicks it really clicks and provides some the most entertaining experience I’ve ever had with a roguelike. With my final words on this game I’ll say this I fully recommend buying this game if you are a fan of the genre and if you’re not this would be a great place to start.
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