New Game Review Virtual Reality

Review – Déraciné (PSVR)

Finally, a Souls-Like walking simulator

Déraciné [dāˌräsiˈnā]: A person who has been or feels displaced. Be it your character or that of Yuliya, the first child that you befriend, or even the fact that this is a FromSoftware game.  This was a forethought in every part of Déraciné’s direction and development.

There are few developers as deeply associated with their games as FromSoftware. You know a FromSoftware game the instant you first die. Any and all grueling and punishing games are immediately labeled as “Souls-Like”. What you do not associate them with is a casual and intriguing walking sim. Yet, this is somehow undeniable; Déraciné is absolutely a FromSoftware game.

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Interacting with objects and clues is the main gameplay.

In Déraciné, you play as a fairy in a children’s boarding school. You are unable to be seen by or to interact with the children but slowly, through interactions with the world, you befriend and begin to truly care about these children. Jumping back and forth between key moments in time, you learn more about the children and the world as you solve simple puzzles. Some of them are simple and cute, like helping a girl play a joke on her friends by spiking the soup, but soon enough they become more real, such as taking a life to help bring life to something, or someone, else.

The puzzles are never altogether difficult as long as you take the time to inspect your surroundings and your inventory, but they beautifully weave within the tale being told. Interacting with ghost echoes of the children, as well as the children themselves, you learn more about them and the world around you. Manipulating an item can give you access to new narrative dialog to help round out the characters and story. You can go about the grounds, only solving what you must to travel to the next epoch, but you can also take your time and explore each object to see what additional depth there is to this tale.

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Life for a life.

This is where Déraciné excels: its world and lore being told in such a unique and beautiful way. Growing a connection to a character that you never have any direct interactions with. Forming a bond with characters that never move. Observing snapshots of their lives, you feel a part of things. The way a photograph can cause a person to be lost in the memories of their past. You experience the good and not so good moments of each of their lives.

FromSoftware masterfully handles this change in how the game feels throughout all of its acts. Déraciné starts as you playfully make yourself known to the children. Somewhere in the middle, you begin seeing the very mature trade off of life and sacrifice. By its third act, you find the children’s lives taken down a much darker path than you would have guessed during your opening tutorial. Yet it all flows so natural, like that is the game you have been playing the entire time. The way the developers have handled the game’s ending is something to experience, and I won’t spoil that for you.

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What a strange doll.

Where Déraciné possibly stumbles is in its gameplay. It is not only nothing new, it just feels like a launch title. My very first game for PS VR was Batman: Arkham VR. A game where you investigate the world, solve puzzles and interact with echoes of the past. If the core concept sounds familiar, it is because it is. Déraciné is truly fantastic, but I couldn’t help but think that although a completely different and unique world, the mechanics were too similar to a launch title “experience”.

2018 has been a year that developers have been figuring virtual reality out. Games like Astro Bot, The Persistence, Pixel Ripped and Firewall Zero Hour were able to remold and shape their games from the ground up specifically for VR, but while holding on to what made them already amazing genres on any platform. I couldn’t help but think that while Déraciné absolutely belongs being mentioned in this group for its story telling, its 2016 gameplay mechanics keep me from placing it on the same echelon. The fresh, intriguing world we are given to explore is made less fantastical because of mechanics that don’t feel nearly as fresh.

 

Graphics: 9.0

Stunning graphics and the direction of going with several static moments in time really allow the world to engulf you.

Gameplay: 8.0

Easy to grasp mechanics that are just enough to keep the focus on the story and world. However, it is somewhat disappointing that they are so basic.

Sound: 9.0

The attention stays on the narrative and children. Both are played wonderfully.

Fun Factor: 7.5

Immersive world and fantastic story telling. Unfortunately, using the same controls from earlier PSVR “experiences” feels dated with so many exceptional titles released this year.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Déraciné is available now on PSVR.

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