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Déraciné Review (PSVR)

Offering a change of pace from the usual action, horror and arcade PSVR titles is this charming casual adventure game, which casts you as a mischievous but helpful fairy in a secluded boarding school. Here’s our full Déraciné review on PS4.

As an avid fan of the adventure game genre, I was most interested to step into Déraciné’s virtual reality world and see what a PSVR title could really accomplish. After all, games such as the Tex Murphy series, Obduction and The Painscreek Killings have shown that adventure titles work really well in an open environment, where you’re free to fully explore your surroundings.

In Déraciné you’re transplanted into the form of a friendly spirit, who makes friends with a small group of children in a rather odd boarding school. I’d suggest not thinking too hard about why just a handful of kids are drifting around in this massive school, with no adults except for the headmaster to supervise them and actually teach lessons. It’s one of those games where you just go with the flow.

Your first task is to convince these kids that you actually exist and then help them out in various situations. For example, one section has you figuring out a way to open up the music hall, so they can get inside and practice.

Note that to play Déraciné you’ll not only need the PSVR visor and camera, but also the PS Move controllers. Each controller acts as one of your hands, allowing you to interact with the environment. You can pick up and examine items by twisting them around, and occasionally you can even suck the life out of things and displace this energy to something of a similar size.

You also have a handy stopwatch which reminds you of your current objective (usually delivering zeppelin-sized hints), and can on rare occasions transport you through time to alter events. I was hoping that this would form a greater part of the game, much like the life energy displacement, but large stretches of Déraciné don’t feature these mechanics at all.

On the whole, the gameplay is best described as casual. Anyone looking for a proper challenge will be disappointed by the heavy hints supplied by characters. The only time I found myself stumped was when I struggled to find a lock to fit a key, not realising that the offending locked object was a chest which I’d already previously opened.

All the same, I found myself drawn back to Déraciné again and again. A large reason for that was the gorgeous presentation; the school grounds are packed with detail and exploring those empty halls and rooms stirs up a strangely melancholic feeling, which contrasts with the charming interactions you have with the tiny cast. You don’t get to see them walking about and getting on with their day, sadly. Instead, you see only snapshots of their reality, and occasionally ghostly memories of moments that have already happened. Check out a trailer and you’ll see what I mean.

As well as the main story, there are also a number of hidden coins to track down. Again, I would have liked more of this treasure hunt stuff, which is really well suited to a VR game. Seeking out each of those elusive coins became a personal mission, one I was determined to complete.

If I had any complaint about the environments, it would be the lack of interactivity. Only a handful of hotspots are spread around the ground, which seems like a missed opportunity. All the same, the immersive and atmospheric world that the developers have built shows the true abilities of the PSVR, and while it’s limited as a game, Déraciné is a marvellous showcase of the system as a whole.

With its charming nature and slick presentation, we’d recommend Déraciné to anyone after a casual VR experience. If you want a challenge however, you should look elsewhere.

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