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DEEEER Simulator review: Justice is cervid

DEEER Simulator is a game in which you fight sheep cops and kaiju koalas as you Spider-Man about with your spiky head, but is all of this wackiness fun?

3

In the first few minutes of DEEER Simulator, I crafted a human character in the character creator - one of the silliest and dumbest-looking polygonal schmucks I’ve ever put together. Then he was hit by a car and I restarted my life as a deer in the big city. DEEER Simulator is easily one of the most ridiculous things I have ever played. It has a shameless level of jank to it and while that sometimes makes it unwieldy to control, it doesn’t even feel out of place. It’s a game where you Spider-Man swing about with your stretchy deer neck and replace your antlers with an increasing amount of firearms. Take that as you will.

A deer about town

DEEER Simulator might not be as natural as the full subtitle, “Your Average Everyday Deer Game”. You won’t be wandering the forest, foraging for fruits and nuts, licking salt licks, and trying not to go the way of Bambi’s mom. Instead, you wake in an island city and are incentivized to immediately begin wreaking havoc upon it. As you wander around, you can interact with humans and make them your supporters, commit crimes that draw the attention of police animals and other factors, and commandeer (pun intended) vehicles to drive about.

Why? I don’t know. You are never presented with a noticeable goal in DEEER Simulator. However, the more you explore, the more interesting things you trip upon. You might come across a button with a cow drawn on it. Sure does seem like something one of those cows playing basketball on the other side of the island might come in handy for. With enough exploring and deer’ing about, I was able to open up a portal and that took me to a future version of the city I had been exploring, complete with its own encounters, curiosities, and rocket launcher antlers, why not.

DEEER Simulator is completely whacked out on a level that reminds me of Goat Simulator, but also Katamari Damacy. Its shameless silliness and colorful worlds work well most of the time, even if there is little direction. The experience wasn’t horribly long though. Once I knew what to do to move to the next section, each area presented probably near 30 minutes to an hour worth of content. Also, there are these minigames like Cowthello (Othello, but with moving cows) scattered about. They’re cute little timewasters, but they also reset your progress in an area if you play them, which feels like a slightly unnecessary inconvenience.

Tools of the common deer

When it comes to controlling your common, everyday, gun-toting buck in DEEER Simulator, the silliness doesn’t let up. Your regular tools include running about, attacking with your front hooves, swinging by your stretchable head, and sprinting. The sprinting deserves special recognition because, oh my goodness. You do a dodgeroll into an upright stance and trot on your back legs with your upper legs in a power stance that would make Castlevania’s Trevor Belmont weep in joy. When interacting with people, you can deerify them and make them follow you in your destructive endeavors. You can also grab ahold of pretty much most things (cars, people, cows, giant koalas, etc.) and carry them around in your sprint. I tried to slam dunk a cow on the basketball court several times and I feel that was the right thing to do.

I will say that DEEER Simulator is so jank that sometimes it makes the gameplay feel sluggish or sloppy. The grapple and swing system is very hard to control and sometimes when carrying an object, it’d get caught on something while I kept moving forward, creating all sorts of wildy stretchy textures. There’s also things like mechs made out of forest creatures that are operable and fun, but I also managed to get the thing stuck in a wall which made it unuseable pretty quickly. Don’t get me wrong. I think jank is part of DEEER Simulator’s ridiculous charm. I just also think it goes a little too overboard for even its own good sometimes.

Even so, what works in this game works well. As I drew the attention of the police with my chaotic, city-wrecking antics, they started sending larger forces at me, including a polar bear using a cop car as a shell and rabbits with laser rifles. I, in turn, destroyed them with my assembly of unwilling human pals and growing mass of antler guns that included pistols, submachine guns, those aforementioned bunny rifles, and more. My amassing posse and armaments even made me bold enough to take on a giant koala on the side of a building. It torched me to cinder with its eye-based death lasers two times before I finally took it out and showed it who was boss.

Deerly departed

DEEER Simulator is freaking ridiculous, and I say that mostly in a good way. It’s not here to give you the flashiest graphics or the most cohesive gameplay experience. You should not expect to come into it and say, “ah, that makes sense” at pretty much any point. It’s a game of ridiculously over-the-top physics, antics, and freedom. I wouldn’t say it’s an incredibly long experience (I wish there was more), and its jank can sometimes be so much that it actually detriments the game. That said, if you want something that’s just plain silly - that lets you be a deer and do crimes - DEEER Simulator might be well worth the distraction.


This review is based on a digital PS4 copy supplied by the publisher. DEEEER Simulator’s full release will launch on November 25, 2021 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

Review for
DEEEER Simulator
7
Pros
  • A silly, silly game at all turns
  • Absolutely ridiculous physics make for all sorts of fun
  • Antler armaments make for wanton destruction
  • Interesting secrets and progression to discover
Cons
  • Not a long game
  • Minigames are limited and reset your progress
  • It's sometimes too janky for its own good
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