If all something needed to be considered good was a solid first impression, Crescent Moon Games' The Deer God would be one of the top games available. Unfortunately for Crescent Moon and for players, that's not the case as The Deer God quickly squanders any positive impressions after just a short amount of gameplay.
Let's begin by focusing on the good, because there are some things worth mentioning in this department.
The Deer God's premise is a major plus. In the game, you play as a deer hunter whose soul was been trapped not-so-ironically in that of a fawn. Forced to answer for your crimes against nature as a hunter, you travel through environments spanning from lush forests to arid deserts.
The game's visuals are also worth noting. The game uses a semi-3D pixel-style presentation that do a very good job at adding depth to this side-scroller. From nice lighting effects to a color palatte that brings the game's environments to life, the game simply looks quite good.
Hiding behind the game's nice presentation and story concept is, unfortunately, a game that simply fails to deliver. The game has simplistic controls (which is fine) consisting of left and right movement, jumping, and attacking. Level design seems fairly linear and the lay of the land is randomly generated. This would be fine if the player's goal was clear, but that's where things really begin to fall apart. Each level's end goal comes across as vague to the point of the player not knowing exactly what he's supposed to do or where he's supposed to go. From time to time you'll run into a friendly NPC who might give you a task (such as a fetch quest) or an enemy with which to deal, but it's just not enough. There are times where the player seems to be wandering aimlessly for ten or twenty minutes at a time. When this occurs, it's very hard to want to continue playing the game. Lengthy load screens don't help in this regard. I mean, why wait for something that you really don't have much interest in doing anymore anyway?
Another issue with this game is that it's just too darn easy. Even with the aimless wandering and lack of focus, the game gives players pretty much everything they need to not die. The in-game world seems to have almost countless ways for players to resurrect their deer and extra lives are given out like AOL disks where back in the 1990s. And it's not like you'll really need them. The game's enemies aren't too ferocious. And that's probably one of the reasons why combat seems so, well, meh like the rest of the game.
The Deer God simply has no real appeal, which is disappointing. Aesthetically the game is beautiful, but in the case of The Deer God beauty is only screen-deep as the rest of the game simply doesn't have it.
Final Score: 3 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.