Déraciné is the debut VR title from Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware with help from Sony Japan Studio. If you’re a fan of their Dark Souls series, Bloodborne or have an eye on the upcoming Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice then just hearing that probably has you incredibly excited. If so, I’d advise a little caution and suggest you take a little time to find out about the game before jumping in and buying it.
Déraciné is nothing like those games mentioned above. It’s a first-person point-and-click adventure mixed with elements of a Visual Novel set in Virtual Reality. There’s no insanely difficult combat, action sequences, boss fights or endless dying. This is a slow-paced thoughtful game that has a story to tell and it makes you work for it.
The game is set in an old boarding school and players take the role of a magical faerie. The few resident children and their headmaster are initially unaware of you. They cannot see you but as the story progresses they want to believe in you and suspect your presence.
Watch the Déraciné PSVR launch trailer below:
The game begins with a short tutorial to teach you the basics of movement and control. To play you are required to use the PS Move controllers. Movement through the world is done via looking where you want to go and pressing the right Move button to teleport there. The places you can move to are all predetermined and it’s a bit like moving around invisible squares in a boardgame.
You can look all around yourself simply by turning your head. To actually turn in the world though you need to make use of the X and O buttons. I thought it felt a bit clumsy to begin with but soon got the hang of it. It’s possible to move up close to objects of interest, including people. When you do this, instead of turning, the X and O buttons allow you to orbit them. It’s also possible to crouch to investigate objects/people from a lower viewpoint.
Your ghostly hands are visible in the game world and you can reach out to touch and interact. A squeeze of either trigger allows you to grab items to inspect them. When holding an item you can then turn and rotate it to see it from any angle. For example you might pickup a scrap of paper with something written on the front and back. Only important items are interactive and essential items can be added to a basic inventory to allow you to move them to a different location.
Something Déraciné absolutely nails is your sense of presence in the world. You actually feel as though you are there and the various locations are incredibly detailed and just look stunning. I think I spent as much time marvelling at the world as I did progressing through the game.
The world and those that live in it are frozen in time. It’s eerily quiet save for the beautiful music and snippets of conversation. It’s your job to inspect every scene you come across in search of clues. Touching an item might reveal a hidden floating sparkle close to the person or object that you are inspecting. A sound effect alerts you that you’ve unlocked one and then you need to look around a little to find it. Touching these usually rewards you with a snippet of dialogue to further flesh out the story.
Most of the time you’re simply a spectator trying to work out what is happening in the moment of time you are inhabiting. The game is quite fragmented with short scenes where you need to work something out or solve a simple puzzle. It’s not always clear what is expected of you but you can refer to a pocket watch that gives you vague clues. When you have completed the current scene a sound plays and then holding the watch with both hands moves you to the next.
View some screenshots from Déraciné in our gallery:
As the characters can’t actually see you it can feel a bit strange as you observe them so closely. If you lean forward and get really close to a character their eyes move slightly to look toward you and it can be quite unnerving and creepy. When you perform some kind of interaction that makes them believe more in you I found it made me feel strangely happy. It’s like you’re forming a kind of bond with them.
What starts off simple does eventually get more complicated. Sometimes you come across memories as ghostly visions that you need to learn about. You also have access to a power that is able to drain the life from a living thing and pass it onto something else. Towards the end of the game time travel becomes important and you find yourself revisiting scenes from the past in order to change future events.
Overall I rather enjoyed my time with Déraciné. It’s a mysterious and haunting tale that I found to be utterly compelling. The slow pace is certainly not for everyone but it makes a nice change to running around fighting everything in sight. The puzzles are simple but it’s not always clear what to do and there is a lot of backtracking. If you’re looking for something a bit different and enjoy a good story then I’d suggest giving it a go.
Déraciné was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment Developer: FromSoftware, SIE Japan Studio Release Date: November 6th, 2018 Reviewed On: PS4 / PSVR