There are many theories and beliefs that revolve around the mystery of life after death, with some believing in a paradise, while others in reincarnation. If you find yourself as a hunter in The Deer God universe, then you’ll find yourself in front of a deer deity, who sends your spirit back to earth into the body of a fawn. From here you must experience the life of a deer by eating food, avoiding predators, and shooting fireballs.
Okay, so it’s not a completely accurate depiction of a deer’s life, due to the godly powers. There are also puzzles to solve that grant the deer powers, like throwing fireballs or shining a light, as well as quests to complete. The Deer God is essentially a roguelike, but one that gives you more than one life. After you run out of these, your save file is automatically deleted, as I found after hitting 70% completion before meeting my ultimate demise.
The Deer God is quite a linear experience with very little to do outside of the few quests and puzzles. These quests appear in the same order and the game forces you to complete them before you move forward, something I noticed after running through the identical landscape for the tenth time. In this instance I had to visit a witch, but kept running past her house, until I realised it kept appearing again and again. Objectives are either fetch quests or to fight some animals, with these proving to be little challenge once you’ve levelled up.
At the start of your life as a fawn, it is generally best to avoid fights against bigger animals. Eating and surviving will eventually make you grow into a bigger child, a teen deer, and then an adult deer. Reaching adulthood can be a bit difficult if you don’t keep an eye on the environments, which range from green pastures, to snowy villages, and deserts. In each are traps like spike pits and lava pools, both of which will kill your deer rapidly.
You can also mate with does to gain offspring, which become respawn points should you die. These provide a bit more a safety net, but you have to make sure that they don’t die either if they’re following you, which adds an extra challenge to the game. You can choose to make the baby sit and stay in a certain place, but then you need to ensure that the area is clear of enemies.
There is some procedurally generation but instead of totally random landscapes, blocks just appear to swap places on each run through. Characters are pixelated beings and there isn’t much to say of their designs outside of that they represent various animals, as well as ghosts. In The Deer God it is the environmental art that really steals the show.
In a way, the actual world looks as if you’re viewing Minecraft from the side, but that isn’t what is amazing about the visual. It is brought to life by the dynamic lighting, and the light shafts of the sun piercing through the gaps in trees. It really draws you in and I think it is some of the best use of lighting in a game. The music has an ambient feel to it, but it clashes with the harshness of the roars and screeches of the animals that attack you. Your deer is a graceful creature, while the baboon shouting and throwing rocks is a crass one.
The Deer God has a co-op multiplayer too, which took a bit of work to get it operating properly. The thing about this multiplayer is that it is a stripped back version of the single player mode, which in and of itself could be considered quite bare. For example in the single player you have to meet and complete tasks for four Elder Deer, who then grant you abilities. That takes a couple of hours to do on your own, but in multiplayer, you can meet them all and gain the powers in about 15 minutes.
The problem is that there are no quests to work as a team on, and if one of you dies then you have to wait for your partner to find a doe and reproduce to create a fawn, which the downed player then spawns as. You can explore the land together for a while, but after you’ve seen the few different areas there isn’t really anything else to do except fight the local creatures.
The Deer God wasn’t without its bugs either. On one playthrough, everything except the sky and background failed to load after a respawn and even quitting out of the game and reloading it didn’t fix it, so a new game had to be started. A couple of times I managed to walk through the walls and fall into nothingness, and in one area the world just failed to load in front of me. That time reloading did fix it.
The Deer God can be a very absorbing experience. I found myself just running along the landscape exploring the world, and testing my powers on the creatures around me. It’s not a tough game to master and it isn’t long either once you have the basics in hand. The Deer God is a great looking game for what it is, and if you’re looking for something to fill a couple of hours then this may do for you.