Deer God is a confusing mess that occasionally finds its way with an original art style and cool music. Deer God lets you play as a hunter who has perished in a hunting accident (I think). After death, a creepy deer on a white background explains that for the hunter’s sins, he must live a new life as a deer. From then on, whenever you die in the game, you respawn as a baby deer that ages as gameplay time passes. As a plot, it’s very strange and interesting, but the game’s execution can get in the way. For background, it took me about 4-5 hours to beat Deer God.
I said the game took me 4-5 hours, and around one hour was due to a significant glitch in the opening quest. As a result, I wandered the game’s endlessly changing biomes until I got frustrated and restarted. The quest involves searching for an old man’s monocle just outside his cabin (because, you know, deer things), but if you do not do so immediately, the game’s environment will run in an infinite loop with no further instructions on what to do. So, if you do end up playing the game, allow me to provide a helpful SPOILER: the monocle is in the bushes right outside the man’s house. Grab it and bring it in to him immediately, or you will meander to the ends of time wondering where the hell it is.
This brings me to the biggest pitfall of Deer God; its lack of instructions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a little bit of trial and error, but a game needs to at least explain its core mechanics to the player. Deer God has a simple system of spells, abilities, items, and a good/evil mechanic, which are all interesting, but only the abilities are explained as a part of the main quest line (other concepts are explained through side puzzles or not at all). As an example, I spent a good deal of the game killing rabbits because I thought the red flash when they died was giving me health, but that was not the case. This red flash was actually a marker of evil, trying desperately to stop my bunny massacre. I didn’t notice what I was doing was wrong until my deer turned red and sprouted horns, which was great, but also a cause for confusion. Even the item system isn’t explained until a few quests in, and this text box is easy to miss. The developers are updating the game all the time, so I hope that one of the next patches will contain a tutorial.
One thing Deer God does get right is the aesthetic. The music is amazing, if not a bit repetitive, and made trudging through the game a more enjoyable experience. The art style in Deer God is also a high point, being both creepy and original, with the bosses proving to be some of the best looking parts of the game (even if fighting them turns into a frustrating endeavor). Unfortunately, the smaller enemies can often blend into the environment, but for the most part, they stick out and look good.
Overall, Deer God was an enjoyable experience once I figured out the mechanics. It is certainly not a game I would pay 15 dollars for, but as a promotional title, it is worth at least a look. I will also say that without a guide, I would never have figured out how to progress in certain sections of the game. If you are going to play, find a guide online and read up on the game’s basic mechanics before you start.