FromSoftware weave narrative and puzzle elements into an intriguing title.
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) didn’t have too many surprises in store for PlayStation VR fans when the company held its usual pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018 press conference this week, having made several announcements in the preceding days. However, there were a couple of juicy unveils to be had, one of which was FromSoftware’s Déraciné.
As a studio well known for its darker style role-playing games (RPG’s) like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Déraciné looks to be taking a slightly different track, whilst staying within the fantasy genre. There’s a girl, plenty of magic, and of course a protective fairy; which is you.
The early gameplay demo for PlayStation VR was set in an old fashioned – possibly Victorian style – classroom, decked out with oak panelled walls and floors, with a young girl sat in the middle at a desk. Movement was by way of point-to-point teleportation, with blue shafts of light indicating where you could move to, an easy choice to make it comfortable for all – they didn’t have time to check options unfortunately.
Not that there was much to interact with at these various locations around the room, the main points being the girl and another desk in an adjoining room. In the girls hand was a flower which could then be brought back to life by locating another plant then leaching its life force and – here’s where it gets weird – time. Once this was achieved by way of a mystical golden pocket watch, the demo ended just as confusingly as it started.
To say that FromSoftware are in the middle of creating what could be one of the most elaborate virtual reality (VR) experiences in terms of narrative is probably a bit of an understatement. Déraciné certainly has that depth and emotion Japanese storylines are synonymous for.
Complimenting the story, FromSoftware’s visuals are some of the best VRFocus has seen on PlayStation VR, looking like they’ve been lifted straight out of your favourite manga series or film. There’s a beautiful ethereal look to the experience, almost as if it were a dream being played – who knows it could well have been.
The only real downside at this stage was the amount of interactivity on display. Apart from grabbing a couple of objects most of the demo was story-based, indicating that FromSoftware was leaning away from the more traditional videogame gameplay and more towards an interactive storybook. Items could be placed in a basic inventory, yet for this introduction there wasn’t much use for it.
At this stage Déraciné evokes more questions than answers. While enthralling through its aesthetic design and narrative driven gameplay there’s a question over how linear the entire experience will eventually be and how much control you’ll actually have, as a popular option nowadays is to have a branching narrative.