The Dark Souls creator summons his more spritely side
It says a lot about Hidetaka Miyazaki’s creative clout that he’s famed for creating Dark Souls, but when he comes out with a walking sim about fairies in a traditional British boarding school, you’re all-in to see how it pans out. On the evidence of the half-hour demo we played of Miyazaki-san’s VR fairy simulator Déraciné, it’s going very beautifully indeed. At a glance, Déraciné looks like a walking sim, though hands-on it actually feels more like an old point-and-click adventure. The segment we play lets us move around a large chunk of the beautiful Victorian-era boarding school, but movement is entirely based around teleporting. This sacrifices some immersion in favour of negating motion sickness, but it also suits the largely static nature of the game.
Everything and everyone in the game world stays still until you, as the fairy, come into contact with it, unlocking little bits of dialogue and the ability to read letters, obtain objects from children, and other minor actions. Our objective in the demo was to help some of the students convince the more sceptical ones that fairies exist – by spiking one kid’s soup with knockout serum, naturally.
To persuade the students we exist, we tinker around; interacting with kids, finding things in one place then slotting them in another, then finally doing the mischievous deed. You’re not rooted to the ground, so can zap yourself under a walkway where a dog may be hiding, or up into a tree where a boy may be lazing in the shade with a hat over his eyes (which you can take off his head and give back to him to create a little moment of wonder for him). You’re a half-presence in the world, a gentle spirit, and it’s something that feels so apt for a PS VR game. Déraciné looks and sounds beautiful, combining Dark Souls’ propensity for echoing, ethereal dialogue (yet removing the tough bosses; not sure there’s a place for them here unless the school needs a maths teacher) with a dreamy, sepia tone that makes you long for half-remembered, never-ending, hot summers and the innocent days when things like fairies and Father Christmas seemed plausible. It’s shaping up to be just the kind of intimate, tactile game that VR needs more of.
Interacting with things like dried fruits can revive them, helping you convince the pupils that you exist.
The boarding school is detailed and a beautiful place to explore, with a sepia tint to everything, and dust-speckled sunlight streaming in through windows.