Review: Derrick the Deathfin
Different Tuna’s new release, Derrick the Deathfin is here! Does this shark have what it takes to measure up to the rest of this month’s long list of PSN releases? Join us below and find out!
Derrick the Deathfin starts out with a “Sunday picnic” type feel to it. The music has a nice, calm tone to it, you see Derrick and his parents swimming around the ocean, chatting about how horrible the big corporations are for polluting their home, and then his parents get turned into soup. Ok, maybe that’s not how the average Sunday picnic goes, but for Derrick, that’s life. After waking up on the ocean floor, the now orphaned Derrick plots to exact revenge on the oil corporations that killed his parents, and get himself some food. That’s about as far as the plot for Derrick the Deathfin goes, and that’s perfectly fine, because it makes it work. You’re given a reason for your actions as well as a general goal, and sent off to complete this goal. While it’s not much, the presentation is well enough to get by.
Derrick the Deathfin excels in the gameplay department. Where developers tend to incorporate different gameplay elements into each level, Derrick goes with a much simpler, less taken approach. There are three types of levels in Derrick the Deathfin: race, puzzle, and “ collectible” levels. Race levels require you to cross the finish line before time runs out, a task that is quite easy throughout the duration of this four-hour long game. Puzzle levels mildly flesh out the story by giving you a simple puzzle to solve, which typically results in that continent’s “Mean Corp.” oil rig being destroyed. I quite enjoyed these sections, they were peaceful provided a much-needed respite from the game’s hardest set of levels, the “ collectibles.”
Keeping with the story, the “collectible” levels take Derrick all over the seven seas, destroying oil rigs, and collecting tires and underwater gems that restore his health. Speaking of health, that’s something that Derrick does rather interestingly. You see, your health is managed in a little bar at the top of the screen, if you go without eating gems or other sea creatures for a prolonged period of time, your health will run out and you’ll die. Of course, this can be bypassed by simply getting to the finish line before you starve to death. In Derrick the Deathfin, the challenge doesn’t come from time limitations in the race levels, the easy puzzles, or even the enemies in the “ collectible” levels. No, the real challenges comes in the form of health management.
What starts off as a simple swim along in the ocean, collecting tires and gems, soon becomes a frantic race against time as you try to collect everything, and get to the finish line before your health runs out. At the start of the game, the task was easy, simply collect the gems, jump through the tires like a dolphin – or Ecco the Dolphin – through a hoop and race pass the finish line. When I began the second area, I noticed this once simple task was getting increasingly harder, I had to keep struggling to get to the finish line. It wasn’t long before that struggle turned the health bar itself became my worst enemy. Often times I would race past the finish line with just a bit of health left, on one occasion I sailed past the goal already dead. This difficulty is what really brings out the fun in Derrick the Deathfin. Where in other games it would be enough to make me tear what little hair I have out, Derrick motivated me, challenging me to pace out my eating habits, leave the fish alone for a quick bite or two when I needed that extra bit of health, and take a cautious approach to the game.
Gameplay aside, Derrick the Deathfin’s papercraft art style is surely one to marvel at. The developers at Different Tuna take every chance they get to make sure you see the time and care they put into making this art style really pop out. From the exuberant colors, to the way the creatures’ folds create a nice 3D illusion, giving off the illusion that they’re popping off of their 2D landscape, Different Tuna’s choice to craft this papercraft world was a step in the right direction that makes this game all the more pleasing.
Overall, Derrick the Deathfin provides a very fun experience. Different Tuna has managed to craft a fun game, with a unique art style, hilarious story, and excellent gameplay. For only $7.99, or $5 for PlayStation Plus members, you’re getting yourself a bite-sized adventure for a bite-sized price.