By Karoline Castillo-Troncoso
It’s not easy, but sometimes, a game helps. As one traverses through life and the consistent battle to remain afloat, you can get caught up in the chaos and clamor infiltrating the chill ambiance. How does one attempt to remain tenacious despite oncoming obstacles which often hold no bounds? While doing so, why not also appreciate life’s delicacies and value since life in itself is temporary and fleeting. Playing Deer Journey gave me a different perspective on how one should view life in general.
Deer Journey is a third-person walking simulator game developed and published by Pablo Picazo. In this game, you play as a most white baby fawn with a little brown on his coat. The fawn seems to have been rejected by other deer. Rejected, he’s compelled to wander into the deep forest in search of somewhere to live. The objective: survive.
At the beginning of the game, the fawn is spawned near various fields of berries. Although some fields contain rotten berries, others contain fresh ones. One would naturally steer towards the fields containing the fresher berries, but…there’s company. It seems as though there are other deer around, accompanied by what I’d assume is mother/father deer. Nonetheless, as one goes to get a taste of mother nature’s edible jewels, they’re attacked by the adult deer-weapon of choice: antlers to the face. To put it quite frankly, I took this attack personally. I would continue eating in the fresh fields, awaiting the chase of the adult deer in an attempt to outrun it, only to fall to my death after being beaten by its ravaging blows.
Despite my unsuccessful efforts to come out a victor in this battle, I hold no hatred in my heart over this matter. But all jokes aside, numerous aspects of this game captivated my heart, including its intricate design and storyline. As I traveled through the forest, each level became a continuation of the last, presenting a threat at nearly every corner. When playing Deer Journey, its narrative reminds me of the mindless rollercoaster that is life. We traverse through life’s affliction and tribulation, habitually in a restless manner. The fawn was left to its own devices due to being outcast by other deer, so there’s the urgency to continue moving forward because there was no other option but to survive.
In the distance, just as we are about to lose hope, we’ve reached the light; or maybe, it’s reached us. While one makes their way through the thick trees, the night brings about the fear of the unknown – of what can’t be seen. That is until the deer is accompanied by a light posse of fireflies. The night sky was aglow with the light of the nocturnal creatures. They light up the path that one is meant to follow. Suddenly, I reached a forest brimmed with fireflies – a sight which truly left me in awe. Not too far from this area was a place for the fawn to sleep-as if it were a sign, that suffering doesn’t last forever. Your journey doesn’t end here; you’re only making a pit-stop, taking a rest.
The detailed artwork and high-quality animation made my experience playing Deer Journey that much more enjoyable. Its realistic nature and calming music truly made me want to explore all the paths that this trek has to offer. Deer Journey contains a delicacy, a light touch that I believe many games in today’s day and age lack, certainly the AAA ones. It balances realism. You’re presented with the truth concerning how the human race struggles to maintain sustainability regarding our treatment of the environment (an example of this is when forest fires took control of the forest towards the end of the game), while also portraying nature’s brutal essence of “it’s every man for themselves” or perhaps in this case, it’s every animal for themselves.” I’d highly recommend Deer Journey to anyone in search of a dainty, yet raw, look at the life of this beautiful creature, but also to anyone who is just as much of a sucker as I am for happy endings.
Karoline Castillo-Troncoso is one of our newest New York Videogame Critics Circle interns and she’s from the Bronx.