The PS Vita is dying a slow and painful death, which makes me extremely sad seeing as the handheld is a pretty damn good console. I know that competing against the 3DS is nigh-impossible due to the fact that Nintendo has decades as king of the mountain in that genre. Thankfully there is still some life in the little console, indie games are flocking to the handheld and that is generally a good thing. It helps the indie developers since there is nothing else to buy on the handheld, and it helps the owners open up their library to new and inventive games. One of those indie games is from Crescent Moon Games and they decided to release their title The Deer God on the PlayStation 4 and the PS Vita. The title was released on Steam about two years ago and is finally making its way to the PlayStation systems, which always welcomes a platformer into the mix.
In this game, you play as a hunter who is hunting with his buddy. Your buddy turns in for the night while you sit by the fire to enjoy the evening, soon you are surrounded by wolves who rip you to shreds. You find yourself in front of a giant glowing deer God who tells you that you must now suffer for all the pain and torment you have inflicted upon the deer. No message there right? Good thing I was eating some Venison jerky as I held my Vita. I play games to escape from reality, not to be reminded of problems in the world or to be preached to. This alone drew me out of the game because I felt like I was being talked down to as I played. Not really a huge fan of that. As the deer, you must find 10 Cervidaz statues that hold the power of the deer God. You must solve their riddle to gain the power at the shrine.
When you first gain form as the deer you are just a small fawn, progressing through the levels successfully allows days to pass which is when you begin to grow up as a deer. Growing up makes you a stronger and faster deer which makes more areas around the level accessible to you. Sometimes if you do die and get reincarnated you lose your adult status which may put you at a disadvantage depending on where the checkpoint is. You may have to backtrack a bit to grow up so that you can make jumps again that are impossible if you are just a fawn. The controls are simple, X is jump and Square is charge; those are the most important buttons you will need. There are dangers in the forest and butting them with your head takes care of those problems. To navigate the forest and get helpful hints there are friendly animals that will help you on your way, just press down on the D-pad and they will give what little nugget of information they have to you. Pretty simple right? These controls make jumping around the wilderness extremely easy.
The Deer God is very pixelated and reminds me of very early Atari games, like Pitfall and the like. Which made the insanely long loading times unnatural, I mean why would such a low visual quality game have such long loading times, it makes no sense. Once the game does load it does look very nice on the little screen, the colors aren’t murky and the background is set perfectly so that the game has a hint of 3D to it. The only HUD on the screen are three bars, red keeps track of your health, green tells you how hungry you are and blue is your stamina meter. The one that you must keep an eye on the most is your hunger meter, you can have full health but die just because you couldn’t find an apple to munch on. This aspect of the game was very irritating when I was jumping all around a desert. Other than starving to death this game is a very good platformer when you know where to go. Most of the time I just hopped to the right to see what statues I could find and to see how far I could get in the game. A little direction would have been nice, but I guess as a deer you just hop around and eat anyway.
My taste in The Deer God was probably soured right at the get go when it showed me that it had a huge message in it. Now I don’t care what the message is, whether I agree with it or I don’t I do not like them in my games. I play games to escape, to not have to think about my current woes for just a little bit. Personally, I refuse to watch movies that take place heavily in a hospital, like 50/50 or even Scrubs due to the fact that this past October was a trying one for my family. Everything turned out for the best, but they remind me of the dread of what a hospital could mean to me. So I stay away from that like I stay away from any type of message or preaching. Other than that drawback the mechanics of the game are tight, no deaths from shoddy controls for me. The music was nice and I enjoyed the quasi-3D aspect that the artist brought to the 8-bit genre. However, if you want to play a game to get away from it, find another title; that’s what I did.
A Playstation Vita Review Key for The Deer God was provided by Crescent Moon Games for the Purpose of this Review