When you mix The Punisher, Joe Danger, Odell Down Under, and wrap them all up in a nice bundle of arts and crafts, what do you get? Why, you get Derrick The Deathfin of course – The product of a two-man indie team collaboration, Different Tuna. Now available on the PlayStation Network, Derrick The Deathfin tells the story of a little shark on a journey of revenge and destruction – all told through the creative art styling of papercraft. With so many large AAA titles hitting retail at this time, it is easy to miss some of the downloadable titles that hit our gaming systems. Will Derrick The Deathfin be the catch of the day? Or will it sink before it can even swim?
Humans have drawn the last straw for the little shark Derrick. If it wasn’t enough that they were destroying nature – Earth’s natural environments – they went and killed the little shark’s mother and father too! Now nothing will get in his way for revenge! This is the premise of Derrick the Deathfin – an orphaned shark who has nothing to lose and will eat anything and anyone who gets in his way from exacting revenge on the ones who took it all away from him, humans. While the story isn’t of central importance to the game, it gives reason to the actions you play out in Derrick the Deathfin. Opening with a brief papercraft cutscene of the demise of Derrick’s parents, the story progresses as you move through different levels of the game taking out key targets that Derrick has his sight set on. The story isn’t a strong focus of the game and it really doesn’t need to be; After all, does a shark really need an excuse to chomp down on stuff?
The meat and potatoes of the game comes in with the gameplay. The game’s controls are simple enough for a child to understand but the levels are challenging enough for a seasoned gamer to punch a wall. The game is divided into four different areas depicted by the continents of the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Arctic. On each of these continents, there are a number of levels that you will have to go through to progress in the game. In addition, there are three different types of levels. Each level presents a number of underwater stages where you have to eat, swim, and jump your way through obstacles, fish, and those pesky humans! The majority of the levels are on a hunger timer of sorts. You have a life-bar that progressively goes down with time and is only refilled when you eat something. Eating is key to survival and earning points in this mode and it’s not always so easy. Levels are crafted in ways where you really have to hone in your skills to get to the finish line. I admit, there were a good number of times I wanted to throw my controller at the screen because of the difficulty of the levels. There is only one difficulty mode for the game, so there’s no going to easy mode if you are having a hard time. Instead, you’ll have to tough it out, try, try, and try again until you succeed. At the end of each continent there is also a boss sea-creature that you have to destroy. I happened to skip the first boss (which I was not made aware of until the end of the game), so when I came upon the second one, I was a little confused as to what I was supposed to do. There was no finish line in sight, the big sting-ray killed me every time I touched it, and all the fish in the level were already eaten up! Maybe I’m just a little slow in the brain (I like to think I’m not) but it did take me several retries before I figured out that I was indeed supposed to destroy the sting-ray and how to do it. So now that you’re reading this, here’s a hint: Kill everything!
Another level type is a race completely against time. In this mode, you will not get extra time if you eat something. Once the clock starts ticking, you better get moving. Once again, you have the environments to navigate and fish both edible and some dangerous are there to slow you down. I think one of the most challenging parts of the game was getting a hang of high jumps out of the water and over walls or through tires. The levels that require these challenges may take some patience. Otherwise, most levels are pretty direct and fairly easy to navigate. The key is control of the character which admittedly can take a bit of getting used to at first.
The last mode is a fairly simple puzzle/skill mode. Here you approach pivotal “bases” of human operation that you intend to destroy. The puzzles are easy to figure out and the levels are pretty short. Each continent contains about one of these puzzle-type levels and they contribute to the “story,” if you want to call it that, of Derrick’s revenge on the humans and the “Mean” company. While I thought the puzzle were fairly amusing, I do wish they were a bit more challenging and longer. Not that I should complain though, there were plenty challenges to go through on normal levels.
There is also a bit of replay value packed in with Derrick the Deathfin. Each level has a number of collectibles for you to grab to progress to the next area. However, not all are needed to finish the game, so if you miss some, you can always go back to try to find them and collect them all. What’s more, each level keeps score; The faster you swim, the more things you eat, etc. the higher you score can be. The higher your score is, then you can earn cute little papercraft medals ranging from bronze to gold. There’s a nifty little “score” section on the main menu of the game where you can keep track of all your progress and accomplishments.
Overall, I found the gameplay to be fairly fun and challenging. For someone who is addicted to collecting items in games, like myself, you’ll find the game hard to put down until you have picked up every item and jumped through every tire you can in the level. For others, the game may be a nice pick-up and play game to pass some time. I feel that while the game was made for a home console, it may have been better suited for a handheld system, like the Vita. Of course, as an indie team who has been hard at work on this version, that was not in the cards at the time but it is possible for the future. If that does happen, I would gladly pick up Derrick the Deathfin for some more challenges on the go.
We have spoken about story and gameplay, however one of the most attractive parts of this game is the unique papercraft style that it is made in. The game has crisp, vibrant, and colorful levels full of papercraft goodness. It almost makes me want to go out and buy an arts and crafts book – almost. The character models and levels are a testament to the skill and time put into the game of this small team of artists and developers. From each unique level design down to their background and even the music which brings a bit of that urban flavor to the underwater scene. It’s a well-rounded package.
Credit where it’s due – Derrick the Deathfin is a fun and challenging pickup and play game. What’s more, this is one shark that I have no problem watching on the television for a good amount of time; I’m looking at you Shark Week (I’ll never swim in the ocean again)! The combination of unique visuals and challenging levels makes this game worth the time, especially for the bargain-bin price that it starts out at. If you’re a gamer who likes indie titles, art, challenges, and something fresh and unique, download Derrick the Deathfin for some fun.
[Note: Thanks to Different Tuna, who provided GamerXChange with a free voucher for this game for review.]