As regular readers to this site will know, we have a bit of a penchant for games by FromSoftware – the developer behind the original Demon’s Souls, the Dark Souls Trilogy, Bloodborne, and Sekiro. Behind many of these successes sits Hidetaki Miyazaki, a bit of a gaming legend and genius. Getting sick of someone calling anything more difficult than LEGO Harry Potter the “Dark Souls of [Enter genre here]”? Blame him.
The game that introduced this author to the FromSoftware canon was PlayStation 4 exclusive, Bloodborne. Directed by Miyazaki (with collaboration with Sony’s Japan Studio) it has become, possibly, the most well
Because I suck.
Back to the Topic at Hand; Déraciné
Anyway, what some may not realise is that this is not the ONLY Hidetaki Miyazaki PlayStation 4 exclusive that FromSoftware has produced. It did make one other, a game that relatively few have heard of. The game is Déraciné and is only available on the Playstation VR.
Firstly, as many review outlets stated when it dropped on 6th November 2018, this isn’t Dark Souls in VR. Far from it. The game sees you explore an old boarding school as an unseen Faerie, observing a small group of children that are bound by something ‘special’. These nippers are keen for you to grant them wishes. The game is first-person and you’ll need to use the PlayStation Move motion controls to interact with the world. You move slowly around by teleportation.
Wibbly Wobbly, Timey-W
The characters themselves are not particularly animated – you see, your Faerie moves in time differently. You see moments in time and see some scenes and conversations unfold outside of time. There is no combat. This is a first person narrative and adventure game. There are light puzzles to be solved but really you are following the lives of these children.
The game has never really seemed to connect with gamers. Firstly, it is a VR title. Not only that but a PSVR exclusive AND it
Another point that may put gamers off is the lack of any substantial gameplay – a charge you couldn’t level at its more famous cousins. It is a shift from biffing monsters on the bonce (before being killed horribly), to slowly following school children around as an invisible Faerie. Now there is a sentence I never thought I’d write. At about the four-five hour mark, the game is slight. I certainly couldn’t recommend ponying up all that VR cash just to play this title.
The game received relatively mixed reviews, settling with an okay 68 Metacritic score (if that’s your bag). As a game… it just isn’t mentioned when gamers discuss FromSoftware’s recent gaming output
Want proof? FromSoft Guru/YouTuber VaatiVidya has only made two videos on it, with significantly fewer views than other FromSoftware games. He even jokes on the last video that he has a PSVR unit for sale – implying that the obligatory videos have been made.
In our opinion, this is a real shame. Déraciné is an intriguing game that eschews the gameplay mechanic heavy FromSoftware games and focuses on their very specific brand of storytelling. It is here that the FromSoftware roots run very very deep. For this player, the main reason why Bloodborne struck such a chord was environmental and audio-storytelling.
Déraciné is set in a gothic and Victorian styled boarding school and it wouldn’t feel amiss if you saw it on the streets of Yharnam. The atmosphere is heavy and oppressive. The game is largely silent except for some low-level background effects, occasionally punctuated by music.
The voice acting is notably British but has the same echoing disconnect of certain NPCs you might find in Lordran. The memories and scenes you find act like notes that you must piece together. You’ll never quite get the full picture of what is going, but the game slowly highlights that something is inherently wrong at this school.
Because, at its heart, Déraciné is a horror game through and through. The idea of being a Faerie may sound twee, but these are not the faeries you can find on Disney+. Like the Soulsborne games, the theme here is of humans messing with forces they have no right tampering with. All of which makes seeing the events through the eyes of children all the more haunting.
You see, they don’t understand what is going on. Viewing the proceedings through the eyes of these children means you can only parse the world through what they see. This builds into a slow mystery, culminating in one of the most unsettling sequences in recent gaming lore, as the children venture out of the safe confines of their beloved school.
PS4 Exclusive easter eggs
Like all good FromSoft games, there are some nice little Easter Eggs and links to Bloodborne. Apart from the setting, you can find objects such as a book with a cover depicting a noticeably Hunter-esque figure; there is a doll giving the “make contact” gesture and a strange statue that looks eerily reminiscent of the washed-up Kos (some say Kosm).
Going deeper, the characters seem based on otherworldly counterparts. There is blonde teen Marie, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain Clocktower resident. Herman, the soul with an adventuring spirit, refuses to go anywhere without his precious hat; a hat, that would not look out of place on the head of a wheelchair-bound hunter in someone else’s dream.
These are no doubt teases from Miyazaki (he went on record to suggest they teased too much) but they help to connect the game with FromSoft’s output. You see, in VR where the fast combat would make you hurl your lunch across the room, Déraciné goes heavy on the storytelling. This story and its disturbing atmosphere, are exacerbated by VR and proves that FromSoftware games don’t just rely on gameplay and difficulty to craft something memorable. Strip away the boss fights and there is still something haunting and beautiful about this game.
Which makes it all the more disappointing for Déraciné that it has become the forgotten FromSoftware PS4 Exclusive. It isn’t perfect by any stretch but if you are fans of the world-building in any Soulsborne games, do try and check this game out. It might just give you an unsettled night’s sleep.
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Rudy Manchego has been gaming since the days of the BBC Micro Computer and spreads himself thin with a love of retro, indie and mainstream gaming. He’s one half of the Jambags Comedy Gaming podcast and likes nothing better than kicking back with a nice pot of lapsang souchong, a good game and a background podcast on the intricacies of Spanish cheese making.