Derrick The Deathfin is currently available through the Playstation Store, a review copy was provided.

Derrick is a very misunderstood shark (or Deathfin) who, after seeing his family taken and turned into food, decides to go on a maniacal murderous quest for vengeance, eating everything in his way, collecting gems, destroying floating tyres, as well just happening to destroy the Earth’s eco system on his travels… as you do!

Derrick has style in spades. From the creative ‘Paper Craft’ art style, to the upbeat funky soundtrack, it’s hard not to smile at the guy. The gameplay essentially boils down to a mix of Nights (Into Dreams) and Ecco The Dolphin, all wrapped in a style reminiscent of the Katamari series, which somehow ends up working really quite well. For those unfamiliar with the references, it’s a side scrolling game with free movement in all directions, often encouraging smooth movement and manoeuvres to achieve the best experience. As it’s based entirely underwater, the backdrops are incredibly colourful and varied, as is often the above water areas when you’ll jump through the air to both collect the gems, and diminish the seagull population.

It’s very fast paced, as the constantly ticking timer keeps you moving forward through the levels, encouraging replay value to achieve the best score and time, though there’s little incentive to do so as it lacks online leaderboards. Multiplayer could have been a fun addition, as a single play through may only last you a few hours, but it’s fun enough to hop back into, once you’ve learnt and adapted to Derrick’s various quirks.

Primary among these is the lack of true up and down movement of Derrick. The 2D sidescrolling allows you to smoothly navigate the open nautical environments, but when in tight spaces, the inability to swim straight up or down can become frustrating, especially if the timer is near zero and you’ve got to make it to a food source before it’s game over. This feature of a timer can also cause you to fail right at the end of a mission if you’re not careful, and while various food is well spaced (ranging from fish to people), you might occasionally find yourself panicking at the last second to locate sustenance. Perhaps a feature where jumping out of the water refilled the timer to halfway could have helped to alleviate this potential annoyance. Still, the levels are short and playing through a second time allows you to fine tune your route, so you’ll never have to replay huge chunks.

Achieving the gold medals will require some tactical thinking, as you’ll have to use the power ups scattered around the level to effectively maximise your score potential, for instance hitting the Vortex power near a group of enemies could multiply your score tenfold. In fact, time has nothing to do with the medals, so sometimes taking your time and carefully planning out your meals can easily net you the gold. Learning to jump out of the water is key, as a number of the objectives are located above sea level, though sometimes the jumping can be a little fiddly, especially as the game initially throws you in at the deep end during the tutorial, leaving you to experiment on your feet.

Often more entertaining are the levels outside of the core gameplay. The race missions let you weave and dash through obstacle filled environments, and the puzzle/boss levels introduce some quite fun mechanics, though the odd one may cause frustration due to the fact that it’s hard to work out what you’re doing wrong. These levels revolve around your hatred of the destructive nature of the humans on the environment through use of drilling and underwater excavations, though Derrick’s results usually entail causing even more havoc on the Earth’s fragile eco-system.

Throughout each of the game’s 32 levels, you’ll encounter many unique environments through America, Africa, Asia and Antartica, with both new power ups and interesting level design being added you proceed. It’s hard to knock the presentation in any regard, as Derrick’s charm is pretty irrefutable. The world map/level select itself is a little clumsy however, and it’s sometimes confusing to switch between particular levels, though never to the stage of actually being annoying, as the funky background beats keep you nodding along.

Overall, Derrick The Deathfin is very much worth a look. While it may not last you long, the glowing personality of the development team shines through, and even with the quirky design decisions, it’s a very enjoyable experience. Every corner of the game is filled with humour, from Internet memes to most likely developer in-jokes, a smile is never far away. Multiplayer often feels like a sore miss, as does the online leaderboards, so there’s certainly potential for a sequel. If the developers can continue their creative streak in future titles, they have a very bright future ahead of them, as it often can be hard to stand out from the crowd.

For more on Derrick, check out the official website here


James Steel
James Steel

James likes games! So much so, his collection spans 19 formats and near 2500 games. Keen to progress in both video games journalism and video production, he often finds himself tracking down games of all formats in the local charity shops.