Turned into a deer by a deity of nature, a hunter must redeem himself by immersing himself in the hostile world he was once part of. The Deer God is a beautiful “endless runner” platformer with a procedurally-generated world.
Run! That’s pretty much the focus of The Deer God. As a deer you’ll run through the world jumping over obstacles, headbutting various hostile, or not so hostile, life, and gaining strange abilities that make your travel through the world easier. Mind your Karma, though. Killing innocents will lean you toward the evil side. Minding your business and helping the world’s inhabitants will make you a protector.
At the start of the game, it may feel like there’s no point in playing. You run, trying not to die, or starve to death. You can interact with other deer to produce offspring, a way of “saving” your game should you die. As time passes your deer will age. Die, and you’ll start off as a young deer again in the place you last had offspring.
As you progress through the game you’ll find strange abilities for your deer. Double jumps, lighting antlers, etc… You’ll also find people and animals in need of assistance. They’ll send you on quests to find items and the like. Eventually, you’ll fight large bosses and find Deer Shrines and help enough people to “win” the game.
The Deer God is absolutely stunning with its pixel art and soothing soundtrack. It’s one of the things that first drew me to the game. The world is beautiful and it’s easy to just run along and watch as the land changes. Day slowly turns to night. Forests give way to deserts. There are houses and caves to explore. It’s all very soothing and tied together with an ambient soundtrack to make everything feel very serene.
The Deer God is beautiful, yes, but the buck stops there. It’s a very hollow game, filled with bugs and frustration, mostly due to the procedurally generated word. You may be sent on a quest to find an item only to find it’s right in front of your face, or nowhere to be seen at all. At times it feels as the world is too big, having you run forever before you find anything of interest.
Food becomes a problem when your deer is starving and the land provides no food. Combat is clunky and dangerous, even when you find some amazing powers to use. It’s very easy to be killed by the smallest creature or a random giant boss that you can’t escape from.
Then there’s the Karma system. Kill cute and fuzzy creatures or unarmed humans to drop your Karma. Help people, take out nasties, etc… to raise your Karma. Either way, it doesn’t really effect the gameplay too much. If it does, it’s not presented in any meaningful way, even after a few hours of play.
I really wanted to like The Deer God. It just felt a bit clunky and empty to really enjoy.
A PS4 copy of The Deer God was provided free for review by Crescent Moon Games.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.