VR adventure with a pretty game world and a calm, slightly scary atmosphere. Doesn’t reinvent VR, but works fine as it is.

Déraciné is French and means something like uprooted. And uprooted, you really are in From Software’s VR adventure, namely from space and time. You control a disembodied ghost, which, interestingly enough, is not a ghost in the English language version, but a faerie.

What exactly you are, however, only plays a marginal role anyway, the environment in which you move is much more important. Déraciné is set in an old boarding school, at a very specific, stationary point in time. Only shadowy echoes from the past tell you what could have happened here. And you? You now haunt the boarding school and let the students know that you exist – with sometimes more, sometimes less success.

Small references to slips of paper are not uncommon in Déraciné. (Déraciné test)

As a VR title, Déraciné moves on familiar paths, although this time the developers do not give you any options to adjust the controls. So you have to rely on playing with two move controllers, whereby you can turn and teleport in the room step by step by pressing a button. Free movement is not planned, but I didn’t miss it after a short time. In fact, it doesn’t take long before you jump around the house with the jumping mechanic like a rabbit. At no point did I feel nauseous. From a playful perspective, Déraciné can best be compared to a classic point-and-click adventure. You can find a key here to open a small box there or you can use a stick to do the same with a window. So there are no new mechanics waiting for you here.

Echoes from the past mostly show key scenes in history. (Déraciné test)

It gets particularly interesting because your actions affect the characters in the game. As much as you perceive them for just one moment, the students also perceive you in this moment, for example when you take their hat off their heads. They are not particularly shocked, because for some reason they assume that there is a good-natured spirit in their boarding school. The integration of two rings, one of which you wear on each hand, is exciting. They allow living things to suck out their lifetime and to use them again in another place – for example from a piece of fruit that then rots in your hands to a flower that then blossoms again in your hands. The game uses this as an interesting image that it is in the eye of the beholder whether you are a good ghost or not. Unfortunately, this mechanism occurs far too rarely.

Dear teacher, we could urgently need bigger pots! (Déraciné test)

Now Déraciné is a From Software game, so naturally you expect hard fights and frequent deaths. But: There is none of this in Déraciné, life or mana energy. But what remains of From Software is the cryptic game world. What you experience in boarding school, or rather what the students experience in boarding school, seems strangely removed, as if it were not entirely out of this world. Over the five to six hours of playing time that you need to get to the end, one or the other connection arises, but there is no one big story with a beginning and an end, a lot is left to your imagination. For example, when you as a ghost no longer follow your own agenda, but have suddenly become the best friend of a little girl who is thinking of poisoning one of her classmates and who finds it incredibly funny.

Be a ghost and find out what happened here. (Déraciné test)

Whenever you do something that attracts the characters’ attention, a kind of glowing red ball appears near them. You can interact with this in turn, which means that you get a few thoughts from the corresponding character. Most of the time, these texts contain tips on how you can solve a certain puzzle, but you don’t need to rely on it, because theoretically you can solve everything by just trying it out. Incidentally, that was one of the reasons why I liked Déraciné: It is an extremely quiet VR game. You can lean back and comfortably explore the corners of the boarding school. Whenever you have solved a certain puzzle, other parts of the house are unlocked and others are partially locked again. Soon you will feel at home here, just as a haunted ghost should.

Déraciné is not a horror game, it doesn’t scare you, but it still has a slight, pleasant horror in the background, which is mostly because the developers add a macabre touch to their stories. As described above: Where new life arises, life has to be taken from somewhere. And if the little girl is to be made happy, her poisoned classmate has to bang the back of the head on the old wooden floor. The adventure really spreads its very own atmosphere, which is worth experiencing and which plays a lot with human needs, especially in the later course of the game – the urge to make people happy on the one hand, and your own egoism on the other.

If you suck life out of these grapes, you can use it profitably in another place. Still: it’s a shame about the grapes. (Déraciné test)

Déraciné grabbed me surprisingly quickly, and not so much because of the familiar game mechanics. Much more, because there is a lot to discover in this boarding school that has stood still in time and it didn’t bother me in the least that I had to look around a bit more for it. Sure, if you’re looking for a whole new gameplay experience, this is not for you. Déraciné is a quiet, relaxing game and that is exactly why it is so easy to soak up the crude, sometimes somewhat grotesque atmosphere of the boarding school, where you as a ghost never have the feeling that you really belong. You are, as the title suggests: uprooted.

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