FromSoftware and Hidetaka Miyazaki have a history of making memorable gaming experiences and Deracine is no exception. Put your headset on and get ready for one atmospheric and haunting tale.
Déraciné has you play as a faerie in first-person. As far as you know, it's your duty to assist the lives of a handful of children within a secluded orphanage. The thing is; time is completely still as you move around and only certain actions allow characters to animate for brief scenes. For example, if you take a book out of a child's hand, he may snap out of the stillness of time to wonder where his book went. It's a difficult to describe game, that's for sure. Plus, I don't want to give anything away story-wise because you have to experience it for yourself. For now, I'll just say that the cast of characters are sincere in their own unique ways while the gentle and occasionally sinister-sounding orchestral soundtrack and detailed visuals of the orphanage at different times of day create a superbly haunting atmosphere that'll make you want to play until the end.
So, just what the heck does Deracine's gameplay involve? As with a lot of VR games, you rotate your character and warp around the game world. Whenever you come across a large warp point, you enter an examination mode where you can rotate around an object, scene, or character in order to thoroughly inspect it. As you do, memories may pop out that you can touch to trigger some dialogue that may give you a hint or fill you in on a bit of the story. You might also discover an item that you can use to progress through the chapter which mostly entails assisting the children in various ways. For example, you'll piece together a broken object for someone, find a kid's glasses and return them to him, and such. Meanwhile, there are hollow versions of the characters which remain just as still as the real ones. These are memories that you can interact with to receive clues for what to do next. Overall, this minimal gameplay actually works to Déraciné's benefit as it helps establish its bizarre yet oddly inviting atmosphere.
I said I won't spoil Deracine's story and I will not. However, I do want to discuss the fact that it is very subtle, intricate, and told in fragments that you must piece together for yourself in order for it to make any sense. As a result, gamers who enjoy these kinds of plots will absolutely love discussing the story and sharing interpretations of it after they complete it. On the other hand, those looking for a satisfying story with a happy and resolved ending will likely be perplexed and possibly even frustrated after they finish it.
Déraciné is a rather short and confined game that can be completed within a few hours. I say "confined" because you mostly stay within the orphanage which may be a large building but the overall game world is still very small. Anyway, the campaign is quite linear as well because you merely have to perform a predefined sequence of events in order to progress. Sure, you can wander around while discovering interesting fragments of the story but there isn't much else to do. The exception is the 8 collectible coins that are hidden in very tricky places which leads me to my next point: besides these coins, there isn't any substantial replay value.
Finally, although there are hints, it's still very easy to get lost. This is especially true in the early parts of the campaign when you're not yet accustomed to how the game wants you to think. I only got stuck a few times throughout the story and found myself becoming impatient during each of those occasions to the point where I had to take breaks so if you're like me then you're bound to become annoyed more than a couple of times. If only there was an optional big yellow arrow to point you in the right direction...
Fans of first-person adventure games and obtuse plots will love their time with Deracine. Its engaging story and atmosphere will keep you hooked until the end and after it's all over, you're sure to think back on this haunting tale for years to come.
- + Immersive atmosphere, detailed environments, sincere characters, and gorgeous music
- + Minimal gameplay works to its benefit
- + Twisted plot is intriguing to untangle
- - Fairly short and very linear with only one substantial replay incentive
- - Can be frustrating not knowing what to do
- - Story may be unsatisfying for some