Derrick the Deathfin is an indie title developed by the newly founded studio, Different Tuna, exclusively for PSN. How exactly does the world’s first underwater papercraft title fare?
Derrick’s adventure begins with his parents telling him how humans are the reason the ocean is littered with tons of waste. Suddenly, a tube comes down into the ocean and sucks up Derrick’s parents, whom are then slaughtered by M.E.A.N. Corp and turned into “Fresh+Tasty Shark Fin” products. Derrick swears to get his revenge on M.E.A.N. Corp and it is here where he has to travel the world to put a stop to corporation’s reign of oceanic terror. As unfortunate as these events may seem, the game’s story is not taken too seriously and is actually a very light-hearted game. You’ll immediately realize this as you read the humorous loading screens that’ll give you a good chuckle each time.
Derrick the Deathfin is a simple, yet addictive game. It feels like a throwback for fans of the SEGA Genesis title “Ecco the Dolphin”, but with a more arcady, pickup-and-play style. Across the game’s 32 levels, you’ll have to collect the purple diamonds and jump through flaming tires suspended in the sky to clear them away. You have a health meter that’s constantly depleting throughout each level unless you collect purple diamonds or feast on whatever roams in the water with you. Controls are very straightforward and quick to pickup on with only three buttons to remember. Pressing the Circle button will allow you to do a Dash Attack, while the X button will have you just attack in place. Holding the R2 button down lets Derrick boost his way through the water and learning how to incorporate your speed while jumping out of the water to overcome obstacles is the key to success. If you’ve ever played “Ecco the Dolphin”, you’ll immediately notice how similar Derrick controls here. When in mid-air or on land, you can also press Circle to get an extra jump, giving Derrick more distance.
There are a few levels that change up the pace of game, one type which consists of bringing down M.E.A.N. Corp’s facilities. These stages serve to portray a more physics-based puzzle style but there’s no time limit or enemies to worry about here, giving you a chance to figure out what to do. These aren’t difficult at all and should only take you a minute or two to figure out. When you compete these stages, you’ll be treated to a quick storybook cutscene. During these scenes, you’ll see Derrick giving a cheesy, action movie one-liner (such as “Eat slick and die”) while destroying the facility, but it certainly works and provides Derrick with some personality. Again, he is trying to avenge his parents’ death. Another type of level consists of racing to the end of stage. Here, you won’t have to worry about eating to survive, collecting any diamonds or jumping through tires. This is just about you getting from Point A to Point B as fast as possible before the timer runs out. These two level types are nice additions that help change up the pace in between the game’s standard levels.
The game’s audio department is surprisingly effective as well. Each location has specific songs to coincide with the area and they provide for some really catchy tunes. Audio effects are what you would expect, hearing Derrick chomp his way through the ocean. The jingle that plays for Derrick at the game’s title intro, which also plays after a cutscene is shown, is quite charming as well. However, the biggest standout for this game are its visuals…which look stunning. As stated before, the game carries a “papercraft” art style and works brilliantly. Everything is literally papercrafted, including the HUD and menus. The creatures, objects and environments all have this very clean and vibrant look that just pops out. Everything animates very fluidly, all at 60fps (frames per second) and again, just looks amazing in action. Levels are nicely crafted, both in terms of layouts and backdrops, and all have a distinguishing look to them. For example, if you’re in the Americas, there’s a level where you’re in New York City and notice certain objects that make it stand out to that particular location. As you work your way around the world, every level pertains precisely to those locations.
However, there were just a few things that detracted from the game’s overall score. First off, for a game that keeps track of your scores on every level, it’s very odd that there’s no leaderboard support. While I’m personally not one for tackling leaderboards too much, this is a feature that the game is begging for. Secondly, the whole game can be experienced within a single sitting. It took me about just over an hour to complete the game’s 32 levels. I was really enjoying the game and before I knew it, it was over. Luckily, going back and achieving a gold medal in every level will extend the longevity of the game for a few more hours. The last issue I had was whenever I’d try to pass through some of the alligators’ mouths. Occasionally, Derrick would get stuck against the mouth and you’d have to quickly readjust your analog stick to squeeze through. Despite some of these shortcomings, they weren’t major problems that dramatically hurt the experience.
Derrick the Deathfin is a fresh new IP that definitely surprised me. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when jumping into this title but from the moment I started, I was hooked. While the game is incredibly short (also retails for only $7.99), it had that “just one more level” addictiveness to it and that’s always a good thing. The team over at Different Tuna are really onto something here and I hope to see more Derrick the Deathfin in the near future.
Overall Score: 7.5 out of 10 = BUY IT!
A special thank you to Different Tuna for providing us a review copy for Derrick the Deathfin!
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