Deracine has you playing as a magical faerie that exists between times like some ghost-like entity. You are able to take and give time, which basically means kill or revive items such as flowers or small animals, as well as time travel which is a key part of the story as you go back and forth in time to progress through the chapters and witness how your decisions have impacted the past.
The setting is a boarding school where you explore and interact with the 6 students and headmaster in a time-frozen state. Each chapter is a puzzle where you have to figure out what action you need to perform to get time to unfreeze and that chapter’s story to play out. These vary from finding items hidden by the students, locating lost items and giving them back to someone or finding an item to take time from to give to another. There is a quick tutorial at the start which introduces you to your red and blue ring that form the basis of how you move through the game.
You move around the boarding school and grounds with the trusted point and move mechanic using the mover controllers. When interacting with an item or a person the move controllers are your hands which offers plenty of ways to interact with characters or items. Seeing as you progress by gathering clues and items from these interactions, having a good system really helps the flow of the game and I never found myself struggling to do something. Ensuring you look round each room with the headset is key to locating items that you can interact with as it isn’t always clear that you might be able to climb that ladder or open that drawer.
The game is pretty much on-rails throughout with no danger to yourself as you progress. It is a slow paced game which is fine as it fits with the faerie you are playing and the setting in which the game plays out. FromSoftware has created a beautiful world to play in and paired it with a touching story to create a thoroughly enjoyable VR experience. The story has some surprises for you as you progress through which I doubt many will see coming, well I certainly didn’t.
Visually the setting is pleasant and the world holds up well despite the obvious drawbacks of the PSVR displays. The characters do have a shiny feel to them that makes them doll-like but as this is consistent throughout I believe this was a deliberate choice. Seeing as the majority of the game is frozen in time there are no real animation demands. The music changes throughout the game which plays a big part in building the right atmosphere for that chapter. As the mood darkens so does the world and the music which all come together to immerse you.
It is a shame that the entire grounds isn’t open up to you to explore all at once. Each chapter seems to lock or unlock spaces as you require them. Early on in the game, this is helpful in pushing you towards the right areas to complete the chapter but as you become familiar with the game it feels like you should be able to explore every room. I was also disappointed to find that what you can interact with is very limited and seems to be that only items that are in some way connected to the story have interaction options. You can’t go into the library and unload all the books onto the floor or through flower vases onto the floor which I think we can all agree is one of the joys of VR.
This lack of interaction does creep into the puzzle themes as well. You will find yourself just touching anything you can to progress the story or that character’s dialogue which in most cases does work. The only real stumbling block that slowed down my puzzle solving was realising that you would need to select an item from your inventory to see if that character wanted it rather then it is obvious that something was missing.
Playing through Deracine was a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The story will keep you second-guessing what is next and there are some twists to look out for. There is certainly room to use more of the VR platform and deepen the puzzles but none the less this is a good VR experience.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*