Developer: Gibier Games
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Also Available For: PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox
I suppose it was only a matter of time before Goat Simulator started getting direct imitators. In all honesty I’m surprised it’s taken this long, given the degree of success Goat Simulator enjoyed. Nevertheless, DEEEER Simulator: Your Average Everyday Deer Game is a new title as of November 2021, after spending a little less than two years in early access, and its inspiration could not be more clear. However, if you want a great new title in the genre of “rubbery animal does weird, physically impossible things” then you may have to wait a little longer, because DEEEER Simulator isn’t exactly what I’d call great.
The Basics: in DEEEEER Simulator, the player takes control of a not-so-average-or-everyday deer and is dropped into a small sandbox world to do whatever in. As it turns out, “whatever” in this case is actually a fairly small set of things, as the game is limited in the number of interactions it has. There are a couple of very silly, one-note joke minigames, a handful of NPCs scattered around the map who you can have limited interactions with – you can say hello, do a very simple and kind of lame dance with them, or “deerify” them to build up a herd of humans with antlers following you around – and some extremely simple puzzles, but the main thing to do is cause havoc and fight the cops when they show up to stop you.
As you destroy parts of the environment (trees, buildings, cars, etc.) two things happen: you build up a collection of the weapons dropped by the structures, turning your deer into less of an ungulate and more of a collection of guns and explosives, and raise your “Deersaster Level”. The Deersaster Level starts at rank E and goes up to A, and each time you reach a new rank another, slightly harder but still pretty easy wave of police animals is summoned. They are all easily dispatched, including the boss at rank A, and combat is both underwhelming and obnoxious due to the music that plays during. Once you defeat the boss, you can open a portal to a second map (which is remarkably similar to the first one aside from the coat of paint it has) and do it all again to fight the final boss and reach one of two “endings”. Once I did that, my reaction was mostly just “what, that’s it?” because it did not take long to apparently exhaust the game’s entertainment value.
DEEEEER Simulator feels like a game that shouldn’t be leaving early access yet. For a physics-based wacky animal game, nearly every aspect of the game’s physics feels half-baked at best. The deer’s neck can extend to use its head/antlers as a grappling hook, swinging itself around and launching itself to new heights – but unlike other video game grapples in recent years, it doesn’t feel like something which will reward you for developing skill with it. In fact, every time I used the function it felt like I was actively struggling against it to get it to do what I wanted, thanks to the stuttery way the player moves at any given moment. For that matter, the stutter confounds any form of movement, from the various methods of flight being extremely slow and unresponsive to the cars you can hijack being extremely fast and unresponsive to even the basic walking and running leading to the player getting stuck on nothing immediately apparent. It honestly feels like these problems were a result of the devs assuming they didn’t need to fix them because they though their players would think it was part of the charm, but in actuality they way overshot the degree of jankiness which adds to a game like this so instead it works to the game’s detriment. The same can be said for the game’s graphics, which rather than feeling like a charming and intentional use of low-poly models make it feel even more like a tech demo.
I think the worst flaw of all, though, is that the game just isn’t funny, and many of its attempts at humor come off more obnoxious than anything else, like the way making your deer run produces a constant, maddening drumroll sound effect. I stated at the beginning that DEEEEER Simulator is a clear imitator of Goat Simulator, and while that’s not an inherently bad thing to be this game imitates without any original ideas of its own. The result is a nearly-broken mess of a game which wears out its welcome even faster than it runs out of things to show the player.
DEEEEER Simulator is a one-trick ungulate where the one trick isn't very good.