[dropcap size=big]S[/dropcap]o, it turns out God is real. And She’s a female. And a deer.
Yes, the concept of The Deer God is immediately weird, but don’t let that put you off. Some of the other parts of the game may do that for you, anyway.
In The Deer God, you play as a deer. Technically, you play as a hunter reincarnated (by the Deer God herself) as a deer, after he died while killing a baby deer. It may sound a little complicated, but that’s only the first thirty seconds of the game.
The first thing you notice about the game is the art style. Developer Crescent Moon Games—specifically, pixel artists Josh Presseisen and Tom Filhol—have clearly put a lot of effort into the pixel art of the game. Although various other games have utilized a similar art style, it displays itself as a unique style in The Deer God, likely due to the flawless animations that bring the art to life, with significant help from the programming (worked on by Kyle McKeever).
Before your gameplay experience even begins, you become immediately aware of the game’s music and sound design. The former, composed by Evan Gipson, also helps bring the game to life, with fitting tunes following you through your entire journey. They’re quite peaceful, and oddly appropriate. The sound design is also very realistic, bringing you closer to the feel that the developers are trying to achieve. This game sounds and looks good.
But how does it play? Well, that’s likely to come down to your own personal preferences and play style, but personally, it’s a little odd. Being thrown into the game world without any obvious objective was initially confusing, and it took me a little while to work out what I was even supposed to be doing (and, even then, I wasn’t even sure if I was right). To be fair, the game was right at the end of its Early Access cycle upon review, so the gameplay objective may be clearer upon final release, but my experience with the game was riddled with confusion. For the most part, I played on ‘Passive Mode’, which was difficult in itself. I tested out ‘Normal Mode’, and found that it was frustratingly hard at some points, especially if you died, being sent to the Main Menu and forced to start your quest again.
Initially, I felt a little bored with The Deer God—it wasn’t quite clicking with me, and I was planning to review it as a fairly mediocre experience. However, I must admit that I found myself enjoying it marginally more as my experience continued. The locations and layouts began to change as I discovered and completed my next objective, and I felt like the game was allowing me the chance to try different things. Given, those “different things” weren’t really any different to the core gameplay—run to the right of the screen, headbutt enemies, avoid spikes—but it suddenly felt more fun. There’s also a train.
The Deer God is not for everyone—in fact, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it at all if I didn’t stick with it for the review—but it’s definitely fun for some people; you have to respect a game that manages to earn almost twice its goal in a crowdfunding campaign, and receives over 90% positive feedback from users on Steam. It’s a fun little game, and one that you can easily kill time with.
But you shouldn’t take my word for it: try The Deer Godout for yourself. Besides, how often do you get to be a deer?