Review – Deemo Reborn

I still have no idea of what’s keeping Harmonix from releasing a VR version of Rock Band for the PSVR. Rhythm games and virtual reality are a match made in heaven, as we have already seen with titles like Beat Saber and the Oculus Rift version of Rock Band. Deemo Reborn, developed by Rayark Games (the same people behind the fantastic Implosion) is the closest to a proper Rock Band/Guitar Hero game for the VR system. Especially with its excellent gameplay, great setlist, and surprisingly enough, a touching story.

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If Slenderman and Liberace had a baby.

Deemo Reborn features one of the best uses of the Move controllers I’ve seen so far. The game is both a Guitar Hero-esque rhythm extravaganza as well as a point-and-click adventure. The rhythm controls are absolutely fantastic. You use the Move controllers as hands in order to play a magic piano, with notes coming down from wherever the hell, just like in Rock Band. You need to press those notes as if you were playing a piano. It’s simple as that, and it works phenomenally well. For anyone who has ever played a Guitar Hero or Rock Band game, it will feel like second nature. I only played a couple of songs on Easy before immediately deciding to tackle them on Hard, and I love the challenge it provides.

Doing that ended up being a mistake, however. You see, Deemo Reborn has a vast array of songs, more than sixty of them, but only two difficulty settings on VR: Easy and Hard. The game also treats different difficulties as “new songs”, unlike older Guitar Hero and Rock Band titles, in which beating a song on Expert unlocked all the spoils you’d earn from beating the same tune on Beginner, Easy, Medium, and Hard. This means that if you decide to play every single song on Hard on your first try, you will still have to go back and play them on Easy in order to move on faster throughout the story. This is due to the fact that “new songs” grant you with more points on your first attempt. If you’re like me, you’ll feel borderline demotivated by going back to a song on an easier difficulty.

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There’s also a point-and-click adventure in here, and it’s not half-bad.

Besides the Guitar Hero-esque gameplay, Deemo Reborn also features a heavy emphasis on storytelling, being a point-and-click adventure as well. You’ll control a little girl making her way throughout a mystical castle of sorts. You’ll interact with everything in sight, solve a few simple puzzles, talk to a few characters, and collect new songs along the way. There is a story in here, but I won’t discuss it or spoil anything. I think it’s best enjoyed if you know nothing about it. Just trust me when I say it’s surprisingly good.

Sadly, Deemo Reborn is not exactly a fully-fledged PSVR exclusive. It can be fully played without the visor and the Move controllers. Sadly this is the moment in which a potential VR game of the year contender becomes a game as bland and annoying to play as those Guitar Hero knockoffs that were a dime a dozen back in the day, like Konami’s Rock Revolution. Instead of fantastic motion-based controls that emulate the feel of playing a piano, you get buttons on the Dualshock. Remember how not fun it was to play Guitar Hero with the PS2 controller way back then? Deemo Reborn is basically the same when playing without the visor and the wands. Maybe even worse, since there’s no “Lay Down” by Priestess to cheer you up.

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Through the Fire and the Piano Keys.

Deemo Reborn is a fantastic rhythm game that features an adorable art style, an actual story that’s well-written and worth caring about, and above anything else, a ton of songs to enjoy. It could have been yet another killer app for the PSVR if it wasn’t for the fact that it can also be played without the visor and the Move controllers, becoming a terribly bland and clunky game in the process. If you have a PSVR, Deemo Reborn is a must. If you don’t, just stick to Rock Band 4.

 

Graphics: 7.5

While Deemo Reborn‘s art style is adorable and memorable, it’s a bit too repetitive when you’re playing a song, as the backgrounds are very stale.

Gameplay: 8.0

Playing the game in virtual reality with the Move controllers is absolutely fantastic and totally devoid of sound delay. Playing the game without VR with the Dualshock isn’t fantastic at all.

Sound: 9.5

I have never heard of any of the songs included in this game’s setlist, yet I ended up liking a lot of them. The exaggerated voice acting, on the other hand, wasn’t something I enjoyed too much.

Fun Factor: 8.5

Deemo Reborn is the closest to a proper Guitar Hero/Rock Band available on the PSVR. It could have been a memorable killer app for the system if it didn’t also include normal PS4 support, which turns the game into utter rubbish.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Deemo Reborn is available now on PS4, also playable on PSVR.

Reviewed on PSVR.

A copy of Deemo Reborn was provided by the publisher.

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