The indie game boom has been one of the best things to happen to the medium: an unequivocal win for the artistry of video games and a strong statement to an industry with a lot of problems. For every title like Celeste or Before Your Eyes, though, there’s a Goat Simulator; and for every Goat Simulator, there’s a DEEEER Simulator. 

Goat Simulator became the hot joke of 2014, gaining notoriety for its inherently insane concept and hilariously gimped gameplay. It was in no way what anyone would consider a good game, but fans argued that this was kind of the point — cleverly meta rather than unquestionably crap. As with most crazes, the game spawned several similarly designed clones, and now, seven years later, we have DEEEER Simulator: Your Average Everyday Deer Game: an experience unapologetic in its mimicking of the original concept, and just as ridiculously bad in a briefly entertaining sort of way.

DEEEER Simulator: Your Average Everyday Deer Game, Deer tiger suit

The game starts, surprisingly, with an in-depth character creation screen, and I suppose this is where the joke begins. After meticulously dialing in your human character's eyebrow diameter and cheekbone height, they’re mowed down by a truck in their attempts to save an oblivious deer from certain death. In what I hope not to be the reality of life’s biggest question, we’re then given the option to either stay down for good or to reincarnate into the animal we selflessly saved. 

The player is then plonked into a world evocative of a child’s drawing coming to life. It’s a city where anthropomorphic animals seem to run the show, where gigantic whales float through the sky and a herd of sheep makes up the bulk of the police force. You’ll have plenty of time to get acquainted with the cops, of course, as the entire premise of the game revolves around destroying everything in sight. 

In what can only be explained as some genetic phenomenon related to the fact you play as a human in a deer’s body, you’re able to run at high speed on two legs, strap an arsenal of high calibre firearms to your body, and use your neck to grapple buildings and Spider-Man yourself through the city. In true homage to the “genre”, none of this controls very well. You’ll be lucky if the grapple mechanic actually gets you where you want to be, and the floaty nature of the movement as a whole leaves a lot to be desired.

DEEEER Simulator: Your Average Everyday Deer Game, Deer city scape

The above was particularly irritating during the game’s boss battles. Many of these require you to fire at specific weak points or use your neck grapple to reach a vantage point, but it's hit and miss, to say the least. Compounded by the fact that dying returns you to the beginning of the game, the gameplay loop takes some getting used to. This is a short game, though, and for so long at least, you’ll feel compelled to return for another run. The more damage you do to the city— be that through kicking down buildings, ramming down pedestrians in vehicles, or “deerifying” them to fight for you— the higher your notoriety with the police.

The police force gets more and more powerful until eventually, you need to fight a boss. The process is repeated several times and about halfway through, you can actually save your game: this is the point where the cityscape changes visual design before the big finale at the end. It’s a game that hinges on a constant escalation of insanity, and while you may at first groan at the basic design and glitchy controls, you’ll still find curiosity in just how much more absurd this thing can get. It kept me entertained for an hour but that’s about it, which is roughly how long the game lasts anyway. 

Ironically, DEEEER Simulator’s greatest strength is also its biggest weakness. It’s entertaining to see what bizarre boss concept is up next, but when the whole game hinges on surprise there’s nothing to come back for. It’s a laugh for a bit, but the asking price is ultimately way too steep for what’s on offer.

Linden Garcia,
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): Playism, Active Gaming Media
Developer(s): Gibier Games
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Adventure, Shooter
Release Date: 2021-11-25

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