Derrick The Deathfin Review [PSN]

Back in 2010, Nintendo released Kirby’s Epic Yarn on the Wii. While the game was praised across the board for it’s unique string and fabric aesthetic, it was considered by many core gamers to be too simple to be enjoyable. You couldn’t die, and the levels didn’t pose a whole lot of challenge. If you fell into the category of those who liked the idea of a game with a unique, bright and colourful look, but want more of a challenge, then the new PSN game Derrick the Deathfin might be just what you’re looking for.

The first thing you’ll notice when booting up Derrick the Deathfin is the art style. Derrick is not your everyday shark, but instead a papercraft model of one. Papercraft is the art of making models from folded paper, but unlike Origami it’s common for the models to require you to but out shapes and use glue to complete them. As an avid maker of papercraft models (having once spent two whole days making a highly detailed paper model of Fierce Deity Link), I was instantly drawn to the game’s visual style. It’s colourful, cute and conveys a lot of information and emotion with very little detail. The visuals are efficient and beautiful.

Derrick the Deathfin’s premise is simple. You’re a shark whose parents were killed by an evil human company. Because of this you don’t like humans and want to seek revenge on them. The story is pretty bare bones but that’s not what most people will be playing Derrick the Deathfin for; gameplay is king.

The main bulk of the gameplay sees you trying to get from the left hand side of a stage to the right while getting through mazes, finding collectables and most importantly keeping yourself well fed. You have a health bar that is constantly dropping during the level, and the only way to restore it and stay alive is to eat things that stand in between you and your goal. The game forces you to juggle whether you aim for collectables, focus on eating every fish you can find, or rush through the level hoping to find some food before time runs out. The game is hard, tense, and brilliant fun.

The game also features a couple of other types of levels sprinkled through the story. There are some levels where eating fish won’t raise your health and you have to just make a mad dash for the finish line, a couple of puzzle levels that are designed to push the story forward and a boss fight at the end of each of the game’s four continents. While they do a good job of breaking up the regular levels, none of these other level types felt as well paced and purposefully created as the regular levels. This is not to say that they are bad, far from it, but when playing them I found myself wanting to get back to managing my “hunger health bar”.

At the beginning of this review I compared Derrick the Deathfin to Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The key difference between these games is that they take the complete opposite approaches to difficulty. While Epic Yarn offered almost no challenge for the average gamer, Derrick the Deathfin will at times have you wanting to pull out your hair. The controls are brilliantly tuned. I always knew that if I failed a level it was my fault, not the game’s, but there were times where completing a level required huge amounts of replaying. The game is generally challenging, but these difficulty spikes were difficult to the point that I no longer found it enjoyable.

In the end Derrick the Deathfin is a game I’m really excited to have in my collection. It’s art style is unique, the levels challenging and the controls just plain work. If you’re going to give the game a go though, make sure you’re prepared for a challenge, because it will give you one.

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