The Deer God – Dear God, What Is It?!

Game Backlog Update #10

Another one bites the dust.  One more game removed from my increasingly wobbly pile of them.  Here are my thoughts on The Deer God.

Spoiler Alert: I wasn’t very “fawned” of it.


The Deer God
(Xbox One)

I’m not entirely sure what this is supposed to be. I was expecting a retro-themed platformer, what I got was a melting pot of random ideas that didn’t quite gel together.

The Deer God is technically a platformer, insofar as you can run and jump your way from one side of the screen to the other.  However, it’s also an infinite runner, a roguelike and an RPG.  Sound unusual?  Well, it’s that too.

After being mauled by wolves, your human character is reincarnated as a fawn.  You can become a larger, stronger and faster stag should you manage to stay alive for long enough, but as soon as you die you’re once again brought back as a little fawn.  Weirdly, if you die often enough you may even come back as a different woodland creature.

The gameplay is simple enough; you’ll jump and headbutt your way to the right of the screen, all while praying that the procedurally generated landscapes don’t throw anything too difficult at you.  Although deep down you know there are countless things that would love nothing more than a venison burger lurking just off screen.

There’s a health bar to manage, but that effectively halves if a hedgehog so much as farts nearby.  Good luck getting past those wolves and through those forest fires.  You can eat fruits and shrubs to replenish said health bar, but it takes a lot longer to fill it up than it does to empty it.

Success is determined more by the age of your stag than your location in the forest, which is where the reincarnation idea – while interesting and original – presents a major problem.  If you can’t get past a certain hazard with your older and stronger buck, then what chance do you have with a dainty little fawn?  Yes, it’s a novel twist on the permadeath aspect of Roguelikes, but its implementation severely hinders your progress.

To be fair, it’s not all bad.  It does look bloody gorgeous.  The pixel-art style, the multi-layered backgrounds and the fantastic lighting all combine to create an aesthetically pleasing game.  It’s just a shame that such lovely visuals are wasted on such bland and repetitive gameplay.

If nothing else, The Deer God is proof that no matter how much elbow grease you put into it, a polished turd is still a turd.

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