Review: Déraciné – Past Reality

Déraciné is the latest addition to the Playstation VR library. It is also the latest title from From Software, the well-known developers of Dark Souls and Bloodborne. However, Déraciné is a very different kind of game than you are used to from this developer.

From Software's VR title is set in a large mansion that serves as an orphanage of sorts. There are some children in this orphanage and everything is a bit sketchy. Time is constantly standing still and only you can make time run a little further through various interactions. You play a kind of ghost where you have the ability to interact with past memories. These memories then tell you what happened at that moment or what was going through the mind of the person whose memory you activated.
Not only memories, but also interaction with objects is possible in this game and each one will serve as a puzzle piece for the very big puzzle you are solving in Déraciné. The memories generally serve more as a hint of things to think about, or give you a better idea of the situation.

A little blurry

The whole game remains very vague during the fairly short playthrough and will only reveal what the clue is towards the end. I won't reveal this, so I'm staying vague. As if the story itself isn't vague enough. Towards the end you only see what is going on, but on the one hand that is not so bad. Why that is not so bad, you just have to experience for yourself.
The game does not last very long, but is mainly stretched by moments when you have no idea what is expected of you. In each chapter, your first goal is to get a grip on the situation. Then the puzzling starts and it is usually the case that your observations provide a good idea of what the intention is. If not, you haven't observed enough, and you need to observe while puzzling.
However, the puzzles are not very easy. Although a good observation is half the battle, there are times when you have to look beyond your nose. You have an inventory with a number of places. You will loot items that serve as puzzle pieces, but you will encounter items that are less useful. Fortunately, you won't have to juggle these items. You will rarely end up in a situation where you are short of space. So pick up everything and what is superfluous will disappear as soon as you enter the next chapter.

Creepy, but friendly

The game generally has a pretty creepy setting, although there's really nothing scary about it. You will not suffer from jump scares, strange monsters or poltergeists. You are like some kind of fairy and I'm not talking about those happy fairies from Disney movies. No, Fairies in Déraciné are sort of magical forms that can have different sources of existence, with less glitz and glamour. Again I remain very vague because I absolutely do not want to reveal too much. However, there are good, but also less good fairies and luckily you are on the side of the good fairies in this game.
There are two special powers you have, well, actually three. On the one hand you can take life and give it. To give life you must first take a similar life. You can absorb a living plant or flower to bring a dead plant or flower to life. You can use an animal's life to bring a dead animal to life, but you cannot bring a dead flower to life with an animal's life.

Your other superpower is time travel. It is important to know that the game is completely linear. You will not be able to travel until after you have passed the chapter. The result of this is that the game builds up very slowly and only very late, shows what is really going on. If you could travel freely through time to solve puzzles and complete the whole story, the game would be a lot more challenging and longer. Of course, this would not completely fit into the current story and some adjustments would have to be made. Still, I think this would have worked out better than the way the game plays out now, namely in subsequent chapters. You occasionally go back to an earlier point, but again this is only towards the end of the game.
Your third superpower is your fear of cats.

Verdict

Déraciné is a very strange VR game and perhaps not the title for everyone. If you like mysterious puzzle games with a grim atmosphere, this is for you. If not, Déraciné will probably leave you quite cold. The game is strongly story-driven, so even if this isn't your thing, don't get your hands dirty. If the vagueness arouses your interest, get started with Déraciné as soon as possible for a few nice, vague hours.
From Software is known for delivering quality, but it is also known that their games are not for everyone. This is no different for Déraciné. You either love it or you don't care.


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