Oh Captor! My Captor! Our fearful trip is nearly done.
Some games’ titles tell you absolutely nothing about the game you are about to play. And Yet it Moves, Ivy the Kiwi?, and Deer Captor are all recent examples of this phenomenon. One would think that Deer Captor is an outlier on that list, that it is a perfectly descriptive and utilitarian name for a game. The natural assumption is, of course, that the game behind the title involves the capturing of deer.
Deer Captor is about nothing less than the wholesale murder of legions of helpless animals. Your sights are primarily set on deer, but any stray birds or rabbits that may wander into your vision are simply extra points. To my genuine surprise, there is no capturing involved. I wouldn’t dwell on this peculiarity if the game had not insisted on constantly reminding me that I was “capturing” deer.
At the outset of nearly every mission, some mention of capturing is made. "Capture five bucks", "Capture X amount of deer before the time runs out", et cetera. Yet once the mission begins, you are shooting deer in the head with a hunting rifle that the game describes as, "capable of delivering decisive blows". Extra points are granted for head shots, and once you do take a deer down it crumples to the ground and disappears. Shots to the head, a.k.a. “decisive blows,” and disappearing bodies are all indicators that the last thing you are doing is capturing these deer.
Once you manage to get over the inherent paradox within Deer Captor, the mediocrity of this target shooting game cannot even hide behind the guise of non-lethal deer management. Each shooting mission takes place within a usually static and always ugly landscape. Deer will prance out before you, and it is your job to kill them using either a crossbow or hunting rifle. While there are a variety of missions, they all boil down to shooting the deer that walk in front of you. The more ambitious missions task you with moving to different areas via a menu to shoot the deer that walk in front of you across multiple environments.
It isn’t fair to expect greatness from the mission structure in a target shooter; after all, you are there primarily for the shooting action. However, Deer Captor manages to muck up even its basic shooting mechanics. Pointing at the screen and shooting works as expected, but the targeting reticule often gets in the way. While you aren’t pointing at a deer, the target is just fine, but once your crosshair intersects with an animal it explodes into a series of concentric expanding circles- making it nearly impossible to see the deer behind the reticule.
Deer Captor does feature local multiplayer and online leaderboards, but neither of these features feel fleshed-out. The online leaderboards track your progress in Instant Mode, and compare them to worldwide scores. Half of the time I have used the leaderboard function the game has prompted me to return in, “approximately five minutes,” when scores would be available. Why is it that this list is only available at set intervals?
Not wanting to ruin any relationships, I tried out the multiplayer by myself. Multiplayer mode is essentially the same as the game’s Instant Mode, meaning two to four people race to shoot all of the deer on screen in a thrilling race against the clock. Convincing a friend or family member to play this with you will kill any gaming credibility you had with them.
Grab your rifle, crank up those country tunes, and whatever you do, avoid this uninspiring target shooter.