The Deer God from Crescent Moon Games
The Deer God from Crescent Moon Games has been upsetting gamers and reviewers alike to the point of anger in some cases.
Originally released on Steam three years ago, The Deer God finds another home amidst the sea of indie titles that have been filling up the Nintendo Switch eShop. I spoke to this in my recent review of SteamWorld Dig 2; the resurgence of some of these indie games on the Switch eShop is fantastic. The Deer God is perhaps one that should have been put to pasture.
The tantalizing description in the eShop is sure to pique the interest of a few. Platforming is one of the most popular game genres out there. Playing as a deer is another draw. The Deer God also promises to challenge the boundaries of religion. I’d say that last one is a bit of a stretch.
Karma and reincarnation on the other hand? Common and reoccurring themes in The Deer God. The story involves a hunter who is killed on a hunting trip. In his death, he is reincarnated as that he has killed the most; the noble deer. The 2D side-scrolling commences, as day and night cycles progress with movement. Along the journey, you age as a normal deer would, only at a ridiculously accelerated pace.
Seeking the Approval of the Elders
Since the whole object of this short game is to gain the favor of the Elder Deer Gods, karma is important. Killing friendly creatures will, of course, lower your karma. Meanwhile, ridding the environment of other hunters or dangerous game has the adverse effect.
Movement is very responsive, and abilities are steadily unlocked while completing quests. The odd boss fight adds more variation into the mix, as each boss has a puzzle element to defeating them. There are a ton of puzzles and quests in The Deer God to keep you busy and add abilities. Before you know it, you’ll be shooting fireballs out of your antlers at porcupines, which has always been on my gaming bucket list.
Let’s now address the general aesthetic of the game, as this is a topic of much contention. Some have praised The Deer God’s graphics and music as two works of art that come together to set a tranquil mood. I’ll agree with the music being tranquil and enjoyable to an extent, but there’s something about the graphics in this game that just irk me. Throw a video effect called parallax into the mix and all of a sudden we have a graphical style slightly more polished than 8-bit games, yet remarkably less impressive than 16-bit graphics. The graphics have been dubbed “gorgeous,” but personally I just think that’s a typo for “egregious”.
If It’s Completely B, Fix It or Toss It
Not enjoying the graphical style in this game is a personal opinion. Still, one huge deciding factor in my distaste for The Deer God lies in the fact that it’s broken. It seems Nintendo threw quality control out the window with this one, as I often had to restart my game as my deer would jump off of a cliff and run off screen into nothing, forever. This is common in the Switch version that I was playing, but I’ve also read that similar issues arise in other versions.
If you’re looking to blow through an hour of your life as a deer, this game is for you. Personally, I consider The Deer God to be on a list of Switch games to be avoided, along with Red Game without A Great Name. Why this game has been ported to nearly every relevant gaming medium is beyond me.
Watch the official The Deer God trailer below: